Verizon announced last week that they accidentally sold over 12,500 private addresses and phone numbers to a phone book company in West Virginia. “We certainly apologize to those customers whose numbers were published. … We’re taking accountability for that,” said a Verizon spokesman. Translation: they’re calling customers to let them know what happened, offering to change their phone numbers for free, and offering to pay the fee to have an unlisted number ($1.98 a month) for a year. Since this is the second time Verizon has made this mistake in the past four years, we wonder if “accountability” can also include taking steps to find out how the numbers keep getting offered up for sale.
Julie Kruger, sales manager for Ogden Directories Inc., said the company bought listings for inclusion in the phone book from Verizon without knowing unlisted numbers were involved.
“(Verizon) is never to pass on unlisted numbers,” Kruger said. “Verizon is at fault.”
The phone books containing the unlisted numbers were delivered across Washington County, according to Kruger, who said she thought the mistake was limited to Washington County.
Ogden asked the postal service to stop delivering the books, but a majority already had been delivered, Kruger said. Phone books that hadn’t gone to print will be corrected, she said.
Yvette Singh, a U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman, said post offices stopped distributing the book Friday.
Aside from general privacy issues related to telemarketing and spam, the listings could impact the safety of domestic violence victims, the Herald-Mail points out.
“Phone directory has about 13,000 unlisted numbers” [Herald-Mail.com] (Thanks to Adam!)
“Unlisted Verizon Numbers Made Public” [Washington Post]
“Verizon Admits Selling 12,500 Unlisted and Unpublished Numbers in Washington County” [Leo P. Hylan, P.A.]