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Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
'Vetting needed' to stop ID scams
Criminals are increasingly looking towards identity scams
A technology security expert has warned that call centre staff can be working with key personal information after only a few days training.

It comes after Strathclyde Police raised concerns that criminals had infiltrated the industry.

Jamie Gallagher, from Netintelligence, called for greater efforts to vet employees and protect systems.

The Customer Contact Association said systems were available to vet staff and share information between operators.

Strathclyde Police said that up to one in 10 of the financial centres in Glasgow had been infiltrated by gangs.

Sometimes with as little as two days training they're allowed access to the core systems
Jamie Gallagher

Detectives from the fraud squad said customers' financial information was being stolen and then used to make tens of thousands of pounds of profit.

Mr Gallagher said the figure represented a significant problem.

He said: "These are the frontline employees of organisations and sometimes with as little as two days training they're allowed access to the core systems of organisation which hold our important details.

"Any transactional operation that you have with a call centre - being it paying your gas bill or booking a holiday - it doesn't have to be a banking call centre to get hold of key financial information."

Mr Gallagher called for more rigorous systems to protect data, to record whether data is being downloaded and to ensure that employees are who they claim to be.

Staff checks

Customer Contact Association chief executive Anne Marie Forsyth said the industry was being targeted but stressed that there were measures to combat fraud.

She said: "Just because somebody has a fraudulent intent, and may even get a job in a call centre, doesn't mean to say they can actually make anything happen.

Do not use your mother's maiden name or place of birth as a security password
Check your credit record annually
If you move, make sure you let your bank know
Shred or rip-up post before throwing it in the bin
Never use the same password for all your accounts
Do not carry address details in your wallet
Source: Which?

"It's no different from a till situation or any point of transaction situation, the difference of course with a contact centre is that it deals with so many transactions."

Ms Forsyth said that organisations should focus on the industry standards for their processes and recruitment, using resources such as criminal records body Disclosure Scotland.

"Traditionally set up for vulnerable children, it's now very much a querying service for business, so for a very small fee, organisations can get information on potential employees," she said.

The association also stresses other factors, such as sharing of information between financial organisations and efforts which can be made by consumers to protect their personal information.

These include not using the same password for everything, destroying key documents before throwing them out and not giving out information over the phone unless you have called the institution or can verify who you are speaking to.

Do you work in a call centre and have a story to tell? Have you been a victim of identity crime? Contact newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk

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