Oops! Verizon Sells 12,500 Unlisted Phone Numbers And Addresses

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“Verizon Admits Selling 12,500 Unlisted and Unpublished Numbers in Washington County” [Leo P. Hylan, P.A.]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ViperBorg says:

    With the note on the safety of domestic violence victims, I think this qualifies as a little more than an “Oops” for Verizon. Obviously they haven’t learned from their previous mistakes.

  2. tripnman says:

    This just in: The Consumerist publishes the unlisted home and office numbers for Verizon’s top executives in 3…2…1…

  3. axiomatic says:

    Yeah this “oops” is in the same light as when you tell your best friend “Oops, I slipped and my penis fell repeatedly in and out of your sister” type of “oops.”

  4. homerjay says:

    @tripnman: OOOOHHH SNAP!

  5. ViperBorg says:

    @axiomatic: Yeah, like… “She tripped and fell right on it man, over and over again… it felt good, but, there was nothing I could do.”

  6. thekicker says:

    I hate that I have to pay Verizojn 2.50 a month for an unlisted number. How is this even acceptable anymore? It’s almost like we should be able to check a box like signing up for some other service – “Please do not make my information available to 3rd parties.”

    Every other respectable service offers something like that these days.

  7. Pro-Pain says:


  8. P_Smith says:

    And how about the cost of calls to your friends to tell them you have a new number? Are the Verimorons going to pay for that cost too?

    Somehow, I doubt it.

  9. rmz says:

    @tripnman: Count it!

  10. @axiomatic: Best LOL I’ve had in a couple days… thanks.

  11. kc2idf says:

    @P_Smith: Add to that the cost of someone who now has to move because their address is now in the hands of their abuser?

  12. ninjatoddler says:

    Well they already give all their info to the government and the government’s always leaking info to various 3rd parties somehow or the other. Makes no difference IMO.

  13. fostina1 says:

    this business in reselling of personal information should be illegal. no if ands or buts just illegal. its just lame.

  14. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    Whatever money was made from selling all that information should be given back to EACH victim. As in the total amount to each victim.

    That’s the only way companies will learn. Hit ’em in the wallet.

  15. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @tripnman: I would personally run or fly over and hug Ben if that happened.

  16. Veeber says:

    I remember hearing that the Police department in that area has private numbers for all their officers as a safety matter and this release could compromise them as well.

  17. Gev says:

    @thekicker: Bellsouth (now AT&T) charges almost $5 for the privilege of not being listed in the directory.

    And yeah, the business of selling personal information should be illegal.

  18. Pipes says:

    @Veeber: Yes, my father works for the state prison system, so my parents’ number / address can’t be published. It’s the same concept with the police: someone gets out of jail with a grudge, looks you up in the phone book…my dad actually keeps in touch with a lot of the guys, but it’s a nice protection to have just in case.

  19. MPHinPgh says:

    Since you have to PAY for an unlisted number, wouldn’t this be some sort of breach of contract? In which case, there should be a monetary damage associated with the “oops”, and by that I mean something greater than the $23.76 they’re willing to “cover” to show thah they’re “taking it seriously”.

    BTW, Axiomatic…love the “fell on your sister” line. Classic!

  20. axiomatic says:

    Thanks for the kind words MPHinPgh and heavylee-again. Every now and then I rip a good funny. Glad you were here to witness one.