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Security & privacy

Privacy warning: Verizon leaked customers’ personal info

How much personal data do you typically share with customer support agents? If you’ve spoken with Verizon by chat recently, you might want to double-check what you’ve shared — because your private chats may have already been leaked.

When data leaks occur, it’s not always the fault of hackers. Sometimes, it’s simple human error or negligence that leads to password resets, stolen identities and drained bank accounts. Tap or click here to see how bad it can get when payment information is leaked online.

If you need customer support from Verizon, you should call by phone for the time being. Not only has personal information been found in the leak, but the data is also showing up in other customers’ chat windows!

A weirdly specific glitch with potentially dangerous consequences

Verizon customers using online chat support to get more information about Fios services may see some unusual activity in their chat window thanks to a bizarre glitch discovered by Ars Technica.

The issue appears to be caused by a software glitch related to chat histories. It’s only affecting customers who ask for FiOS availability in their area and comes in the form of addresses, phone numbers and sometimes account numbers belonging to other customers.

To make matters worse, the chat agents interacting with customers appear to have no idea what’s going on. Ars Technica reported its findings to Verizon, and the company released a statement to warn customers about the risks they face.

We’re looking into an issue involving our online chat system that assists individuals who are checking on the availability of Fios services. We believe a small number of users may have seen a name, phone number, and/or a home or building address from an unrelated individual who had previously used this chat system to enter that information. Since the issue was brought to our attention, we’ve identified and isolated the problem and are working to have it resolved as quickly as possible.

Verizon

It’s not clear how long the leak has been happening. Screenshots show dates spanning several months. There are also reports that the issue is still occurring for some customers, but the number of incidents appears to have decreased.

Tap or click here to find out more about another dangerous leak affecting one of the most popular chat apps for Android.

I used the Verizon chat feature. What should I do?

If you’ve only used Verizon’s online chat for technical support, you’re probably safe. For now, the issue only appears to be affecting customers asking about FiOS service in their area.

That said, anyone who did use the chat feature to inquire about FiOS should take precautions to protect their data. Follow these steps to be as safe as possible:

  • Contact Verizon and let them know your data may have been leaked because of the chat glitch. Ask the agent to help you change your account password to prevent any prying eyes from finding more information.
  • Screen any incoming calls carefully. Scammers love data leaks because it gives them plenty of fresh phone numbers and email addresses to attack. Any unsolicited calls coming after this leak may be spam or worse.
  • For now, stick to calling Verizon for support or questions instead of using the chat feature.

We’ll be updating this story should Verizon announce that the leak has been fixed or if we learn even more about the full scope of what happened. This may be a small-time glitch for now, but we may not be as lucky next time.

Tap or click here to see a website that will show you if your data is included in a data breach.

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