Your personal details end up with raddiwalas

Published: Nov 28, 2011, 07:38 IST | Shashank Rao |

A resident of South Mumbai discovers Airtel forms containing confidential information in the hands of a roadside food vendor, who acquired them from a raddiwala

A resident of South Mumbai discovers Airtel forms containing confidential information in the hands of a roadside food vendor, who acquired them from a raddiwala

Your phone company knows where you live, your PAN, your employer and even your monthly salary. But wouldn't you be shocked to find that the details that you provide so trustingly will find its way to a food stall vendor and, from him, to anyone who cares to stop for a bite?

Digest this: The bhelwala, Rajesh Gupta, said he had bought the papers
from a raddiwala and added that he only cared what was served in them,
not what was printed on them

Around three weeks ago, Dhiren Jhaveri, a resident of South Mumbai, had decided to stop for chaat at a bhelwala in Tardeo. He was shocked to find a bunch of Airtel customer relationship forms with the vendor, who was using it to pack his eatables. "I asked him the source of the bundle of papers. Initially, he refused to say anything but later he hesitantly told me that he bought them from a nearby raddiwala," said Jhaveri.

When Jhaveri tried to take the bundle of forms from the vendor, he resisted, saying that the papers were his and he used them to pack food. "I, however, got hold of three forms. The documents contained important and highly personal information right from the name to the PAN to the person's employer  details and the
SIM number," added Jhaveri.

The paper trail
Shocked at the leak of such important details, Jhaveri e-mailed the acquired forms to MiD DAY. MiD DAY contacted the customers whose forms were sent by Jhaveri and all of them were shocked at the fact that their personal details had landed up in the hands of a bhelwala. "This is a very serious issue. We have contacted Airtel and asked them to explain this lapse in security," said a security officer of a private company.

A form of Airtel customer Amrita Mhatre (details blurred to protect privacy).
Pic/Satyajit Desai

A resident of Virar, Amrita Mhatre, was left speechless, as she could not fathom how her form had found its way to a raddiwala and ultimately to a bhelwala.

Her husband Anil fumed, "This situation is very dangerous. I will check with the person who gave me the connection."

Mahesh Soni, the dealer from whom Mhatre had acquired the connection said that he was left stunned at the information finding its way to a bhelwala. "These forms are sent to the Airtel office as part of the procedure. We are trying to figure out how these forms landed up with the bhelwala," said Soni.

'Don't know'
Meanwhile, Rajesh Gupta, the bhelwala who was found in possession of the forms, claimed innocence. "I have been working here for the last 40 years and use several papers to pack the food. I am not concerned with what is printed on these papers. People come here to enjoy chaat and that is my sole concern."

The other side
Officials at Airtel claimed that everyday thousands of such forms are filled and that there is no loophole and that the forms must have ended up with the scrap dealer from the customers' end who might have given a photocopy. An official statement from Airtel read, "We are committed to protecting our customer's personal information and as a policy we adopt stringent security practices along with security control measures which comply with the government directions and guidelines. This is in order to protect our customer's personal information from unauthorised access, or disclosure while it is under our control".

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