The country’s business process outsourcing industry defended itself after a BBC sting alleged misuse of confidential credit-card information of British customers by a Delhi-based person with links to a call centre.
The operation, the third significant incident of its kind in a decade of the IT-BPO boom involving lakhs of employees, came like an unwanted headache for the industry, reeling under a global demand slump. The details were not clear but one Saurabh Sachar was said to be peddling credit- and debit-card details to two undercover reporters from London at a Delhi coffee shop.
“We don’t stand for fraud and misuse of information,” said Raman Roy, chairman, Quattro BPO Solutions. “But it’s almost vindictive, unless all facts are in place and his identity and linkage to a call centre is established.” Roy, who earlier ran Wipro Spectramind and is a pioneer of the outsourced services industry, said India accounted for a minuscule percentage of the overall fraud amounting to $6 billion. “Linking the fraud to India is stretching it a bit too far,” he said.
Indian call-centre operations face criticism on data privacy, but its opponents say the country is also targeted by those who do not like the loss of BPO jobs in developed economies.Sachar apparently agreed to supply the undercover reporters hundreds of credit- and debit-card details each week at $10 dollars a card. “He claimed some of the numbers had been obtained from call centres handling mobile phone sales or phone bill payments,” the BBC report said.
Nearly all the names, addresses and post codes sold to the reporters were valid but not the numbers, which were often wrong by a single digit, BBC said.
The National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) was apparently trying to get in touch with anti-virus software firm Symantec Corporation whose three customers’ interests have been compromised.
Nasscom officially offered no comment. “We are trying to get in touch with Symantec Corporation in order to establish the facts,” said a Nasscom spokesperson.
In 2005, former employees of MphasiS BPO were arrested for stealing $350,000 from four Citibank customers served by the Pune office. They were accused of enticing customers to part with their passwords. In the same year, operations by British and Australian media revealed financial customer data leakage from a Gurgaon call centre. After these incidents, Nasscom moved to strengthen privacy-related procedures in the industry.