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They Know Your Every Call

Add cell-phone companies to the group of businesses that have lost control over customer data. Outfits known as data brokers sell customer cell-phone records on the Web, in some cases allegedly posing as customers to get the information from cell-phone companies.

Cingular is suing Data Find Solutions and 1st Source Information Specialists, companies it says are associated with Locatecell.com and Celltolls.com, and on Jan. 13 got a temporary court order preventing them from selling Cingular phone records.

Celltolls last week offered this "special": $89.95 for records of all outgoing calls made from a business or personal cell phone during a given billing period. Both sites stated they couldn't process Cingular records at this time.

Verizon Wireless last year got a temporary injunction against Global Information Group for selling customer records--which it obtained by allegedly posing as Verizon workers to get them--and a permanent injunction as part of a settlement with data broker Source Resources Inc.

The FCC said last week it's investigating illegal data-brokering practices and will take action against any cellular company that breaks laws protecting confidential customer data. U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer, Arlen Specter, and Bill Nelson have proposed legislation that would make it a crime to falsely obtain cell-phone records.

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