Cellphone provider under scrutiny by Indiana attorney general

TerraCom accused of mishandling customers' info

INDIANAPOLIS - A company that provides cellphones to low income families is at the center of an investigation from the Indiana Attorney General’s office.

"TerraCom needs to take full responsibility," said state Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Oklahoma-based TerraCom is one of 10 telecommunications companies that are allowed to offer the Lifeline program in Indiana.

TerraCom provides a phone with 250 free minutes every month to eligible families.

A Scripps National Investigation found that personal information many of those families gave TerraCom to apply for the service was available online.

The investigation uncovered records dating back to last summer from people in 26 states.

Zoeller told Call 6 Investigator Rafael Sanchez, "I think Scripps has done a public service."

The records involved customer information that was no longer private, from birth dates to social security numbers -- everything an identity thief would need.

About 17,000 Hoosier applications were put at risk.

"There's a lot of money being made by people like TerraCom, frankly they need to spend little more money protecting the security of that data file and not leave it to consumers,” said Zoeller.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office sent the company a letter demanding to know when the breach occurred and why.

TerraCom accused Scripps of accessing the records illegally.

Scripps has denied the charge and offered to share a video it produced demonstrating how the reporter found the documents.

Zoeller said "There is no pointing fingers. I think, frankly, TerraCom has done itself a disservice by trying to shift the blame, because I am looking for people to recognize their responsibility."

A spokesperson for TerraCom emailed RTV6 a statement. 

Read the full statement here -- http://media.theindychannel.com/docs/terracom-ceo-statement.pdf

In the statement, TerraCom says only 270 applications were available online, not 170,000 as initially reported.

The company wants people to know that it implemented security measures to prevent any future unauthorized access.

TerraCom also says it is providing credit monitoring and identity theft assistance to customers whose private information was made public.

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