January 13, 2006- Federal Agencies Respond to Inquiry on Fraudulent Phone Records Sales

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) Ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, released responses from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to his inquiry into reports of the commercial availability of consumer telephone records by companies like www.celltolls.com and other web-based companies that sell private cell phone records for as low as $89.95. 

“High-tech hucksters are using the Internet to sell illegally-obtained consumer telephone records and I urge the FTC and FCC to step up their enforcement efforts already underway to ensure that consumer telephone records do not become commodities in a cyberspace bazaar,” said Rep. Markey.

In November, Rep. Markey called on the FTC and FCC to investigate this violation of private consumer information and ascertain what steps they were taking to protect consumers.  According to many carriers, consumer telephone records are disclosed inadvertently when “pre-text” callers impersonate consumers to illicitly obtain the calling records. 

Today Rep. Markey received a response from the Chairman of the FCC indicating that the agency has an investigation underway at this time and is looking into whether telephone companies are taking adequate steps to protect consumer phone records.  In addition the FCC and the FTC are coordinating efforts to combat this rising fraud.  The Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission wrote Rep. Markey that the FTC has the power to immediately “bring a law enforcement action against a pretexter of telephone records if it has reason to believe such pretexter’s activities constitute an unfair and deceptive business practice under Section 5 of the FTC Act.”

Markey added: “The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission must use their legal enforcement authority to prosecute individuals who illegally access phone records and to otherwise use their regulatory authority to put an end to these unacceptable violations of consumer privacy.”

For more information on Rep. Markey’s work to protect consumer privacy and for a copy of the letter sent to the FTC and FCC check out: http://www.house.gov/markey

Copy of FTC Response Letter, January 13, 2006
Copy of FCC Response Letter, January 13, 2006
Link to Rep. Markey Letter to FTC and FCC, November 14, 2005

For Immediate Release
January 13, 2006

 CONTACT: Tara McGuinness
Colin Crowell