Verizon customers who normally use the company’s online chat system to sort out issues with their service might want to stop for the time being. A glitch is leaking personal information—addresses, phone numbers, and sometimes accounts numbers—in other customers’ chat windows.
Ars Technica discovered the leak on Monday, Nov. 30, and alerted Verizon. As of this publication, the leak has yet to be completely fixed, but the number of instances of it occurring seems to have dropped.
The leak also seems to only be affecting those who chat with a Verizon representative to find out if Fios services are available in their area. For this process, customers would normally have to give their full and complete address to Verizon representatives, and in some cases their account number. According to Ars: “When the chat window opens, it contains transcripts of conversations that other customers, either prospective or current, have had.”
It’s not clear how long the leak has been occurring, as some of the screenshots provided by Ars date back several months.
In a statement to Ars, Verizon said:
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.
This is the latest in a long, long line of mistakes—big ones—that Verizon has made this year. In February, Verizon, along with the other major cell carriers, was fined just $48 million for illegally sharing the location data of its customers. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said at the time that Verizon sold access to their customers’ information to companies who aggregate that kind of data. In July, the National Advertising Division (NAD) said Version should stop misleading its customers with claims that its 5G coverage was available nationwide. The telecom also throttled Santa Clara County Fire Department’s supposedly “unlimited” data plan while firefighters were trying to put out the Mendocino Complex Fire in 2018. Not a good look.
We will update this article once Verizon has fixed the glitch.