Protect U.S. from identity theft by foreign call centers

I work at a major insurance agency in Indiana. On July 24, 2014, I phoned a major insurance company in Indiana to tell them that one of our clients had died and to request that the automatic bank draft for premium be cancelled.

It was while working on this task that I learned that the insurance company had moved much of its customer service call center to Jamaica. The Philippines and India are used for call centers by many U.S. companies.

This is bad for Americans and especially for senior citizens. Allowing people in other countries to view and use sensitive private information about Americans can easily lead to identity theft crimes in which U. S. law enforcement officials are unable to track and arrest the guilty parties. Foreign governments could even frustrate an investigation to protect their citizens who conspire to perpetrate identity theft against Americans.

This is not a new issue.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) released a report in December 2011 titled “Why Shipping Call Center Jobs Overseas Hurts Us Back Home.” The CWA report noted:

Offshored call center jobs pose a serious threat to consumers’ personal data, according to an updated report released by CWA.

Building on the December 2011 report, which examined how offshoring call center jobs hurts the US economy and workers, CWA has established a disturbing pattern of fraudulent and criminal activity targeting U.S. customers being serviced by overseas call centers.

Key findings include a recent investigation by The Sunday Times, which discovered that call centers in India are gathering personal financial data from several UK banks and peddling the information on the black market. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission uncovered a telemarketing scam this year, in which call center employees in India impersonated debt collectors and defrauded Americans out of more than $5 million.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to such crimes because their identity information is routinely shared by phone and over the internet in order to process medical claims.

Laws and regulations to stop the use of foreigners for call centers or other such services in foreign countries in which sensitive personal information is shared should be enacted at the federal and state levels immediately. Such protective laws and regulations would have the additional benefit of forcing major banking and insurance companies to hire Americans in America for these services.