Late yesterday, July 31, Altus Police Department revealed they are conducting an investigation on fraudulently obtained personal cell phone records. The phone records were for a personal cell phone, not a work-provided phone. Asst. Police Chief Mike Turner gave the following release regarding the crime:
“On July 12, 2012 the Altus Police Department received a complaint from victim, (recently reinstated City Electrical Superintendent) Dan Scott. Scott reported that a person or persons obtained his personal cell phone records without his consent and disseminated them to various people within the city. The Altus Police Department is currently conducting an investigation into this offense, and is in the process of obtaining subpoenas in an attempt to identify the persons responsible for this felony crime. The results of this investigation will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for the consideration of criminal charges being filed against them.”
How easily could someone obtain cell phone records for any of us? It’s not that easy, according to leading cell phone companies.
On the U.S. Cellular web site, “www.uscellular.com/privacy#cpni”, their company states, “Access to call detail or text message detail is available only by registering for online access to billing information through MyAccount, calling and requesting a copy to be sent to the customers billing address or obtaining a copy by visiting one of our company owned retail stores.” They stipulate that “You or your Authorized user will be asked to present a valid government issued photo ID when requesting information.”If the person obtained the records through an online process, the web site also states, “U.S. Cellular automatically collects information on those (customers) visiting the web site.” The information they collect includes “domain type, IP address and clickstream information”.
Verizon collects even more information on their online visitors, even about those who do not have accounts with their company. According to their privacy page, “www22.verizon.com/about/privacy/policy/#infosecurity”, they state, “When you browse Verizon websites, information is collected about your device and your visit. We also collect data about your browsing, searching and buying activity as you interact with our sites. We may collect and use your IP address, mobile telephone or device number, account information, web addresses of the sites you come from and go to next and information about your connection, including your device’s browser, operating system, platform type and Internet connection speed. We use this information for operational and performance measurement purposes including monitoring statistics such as how many people visit our websites; which pages people visit on our sites; how much time is spent on each page or; which browsers are used to visit our sites.”
With these policies in force by major companies, it would appear that if cell phone records are fraudulently procured online, the carrier company has a good lead on how they were accessed. If someone attempts to obtain our phone records in the retail store, they will have to be designated as an authorized user and present a government issues photo ID.