BEDMINSTER, NJ — Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Bill Nelson of Florida proposed legislation in the U.S. Senate today to make it a crime for someone to obtain cell phone customer calling or billing information under false pretenses or for a wireless company employee to sell such customer information. Verizon Wireless issued the following statement from Steve Zipperstein, vice president of legal & external affairs, in response to the filing:
"As the first wireless company in the U.S. to take legal action to protect cell phone customers' private account information from so-called online data brokers, Verizon Wireless applauds the efforts of Sens. Schumer, Specter and Nelson to protect our customers' privacy from the crooks and predators who we've been hauling into civil court. The criminal penalties in this bill will provide another powerful weapon in the legal arsenal that the private sector and the government can use to protect consumers. We believe this legislation will give federal prosecutors and others in law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on this despicable practice and help defend the privacy of U.S. cell phone customers."
Verizon Wireless' record of aggressively protecting customer privacy has put the company at the forefront of the U.S. wireless industry.
- On September 15, 2005, Verizon Wireless secured a permanent injunction against Source Resources Inc, a Tennessee-based company, to halt its illegal practice of obtaining and selling confidential customer telephone records. Verizon Wireless brought the lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind, after one of its customers reported that his confidential wireless phone records had been secured without his permission by Source Resources. http://www.verizonwireless.com/news/article/2005/09/pr2005-09-15.html
- On November 9, 2005, Verizon Wireless obtained an immediate injunction against Global Information Group (GIG) of Temple Terrace, FL after the company made "thousands of attempts" to gather confidential information without proper authorization and used various fraudulent "schemes" to do so, including impersonating Verizon Wireless employees and posing as Verizon Wireless customers. The suit is pending. http://www.verizonwireless.com/news/article/2005/11/pr2005-11-09a.html
In other actions to protect customer privacy:
- Verizon Wireless won permanent injunctions to stop two telemarketing firms - Intelligent Alternatives of San Diego, CA, and Resort Marketing Trends of Coral Springs, FL, - from making calls to Verizon Wireless customers by using auto-dialers and recorded messages. Federal consumer protection law prohibits use of auto-dialers or pre-recorded messages in calls to cell phones - http://www.verizonwireless.com/news/article/2005/12/pr2005-12-09.html
- Verizon Wireless filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against Passport Holidays of Ormond Beach, FL, for violating federal and state laws after it sent more than 98,000 unsolicited short text messages to Verizon Wireless customers informing them they supposedly had won a cruise to the Bahamas and asking them to call to claim their prize - http://www.verizonwireless.com/news/article/2005/11/pr2005-11-23.html
- In August 2004, Verizon Wireless obtained an injunction against Rhode Island resident Jacob Brown, a known spammer who had been sending numerous text message solicitations to Verizon Wireless customers - http://www.verizonwireless.com/news/article/2004/08/pr2004-08-30.html
- In June 2004, Verizon Wireless broke with the wireless industry by becoming the first to announce it would protect customer privacy by refusing to participate in a national wireless phone directory - http://www.verizonwireless.com/news/article/2004/06/pr2004-06-21.html
About Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 49.3 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.####