CHOICE membership

Telstra needing truly excessive personal info demands

Today I tried to renew my 2 owned mobile phone data and calls contract. It’s paid monthly from a credit card I authorised some time ago and I needed a slight plan change as I have been paying for vastly more data than I use. Due to previous issues with Telstra incompetence and also credit card hacking used to pay other peoples Telstra bills, we only have the mobile phones and not landline or internet. So in order to arrange to continue a monthly deduction of $90 from a valid credit card the Telstra call centre operator demanded in addition to my full name, address, full date of birth, and the mobile phone numbers they insisted I supply my drivers licence number, the land line number and my email address, whether we own our home or not ( SERIOUSLY), and whether I have a job, or if I’m on the pension or live off superannuation ( NO I’M NOT JOKING). With all of that , the incessant reading out of terms and conditions, the trying to sell me other things I said in advance, it took 40 minutes on the phone to get to the point where the operator would put it into the system but didn’t know if my new contract would proceed without all the private info. Surely this is unjustified or illegal, and who are they selling it all to?

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sorry, they were trying to sell me internet and land line I told them in advance I did not want. The privacy issues however are much more serious.

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This is metadata required to be collected by all telcos and is mandated by legislation…and reflective of the modern era we live. Such data can be made available to law enforcement agencies if and when requested…

https://www.telstra.com.au/privacy/customer-access

If you are entering a post-pay agreement, you are a creditor to the phone company. Many businesses, inc. phone and utility companies, determine credit risks (whether bills will be paid) before approving an individual as a creditor. Such questions allow them to determine their risk.

Companies are in the business of making money. The products they sell, the more cash flow they generate.

As most call centre interactions are recorded, it is likely that the call centre employee is required to offer these services as part of their work instructions. If caught/not doing so may result in disciplinary action by the employer.

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Not just Telstra call centres. I received a call checking if I am on the right plan - had to give full name, date of birth. They directed me to the local Telstra shop as they may be able to offer a better deal. I called in and was asked for all that, plus my drivers licence. They recommended a plan which worked out about the same as what I was presently paying but all calls were going to be “free”. I went home to do the maths and decided to change on-line.

I have been a Telstra landline customer for decades with a good credit history. I was taken aback at the amount of data they wanted off me, just to change a landline plan. Approval to undertake credit history checks, D/L, home ownership, income type, employment, address etc. All for $55/month. You’d think it was $500 a week. I was on the verge of saying “stuff it” but I had gone too far down the road and turning back meant re-applying with the same round of data. I just assumed it would be a simple matter of a different amount on the bill. Then my pre-paid mobile went off the network the same day. Really don’t ever want to change plan again!

I wasn’t sold any other services as my mobile was with them, my NBN is via Satellite (Telstra do not offer any plans) and that was it. I agree, it seems an awful lot of data that’s not needed.

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They need your full name, address, and DOB to authenticate you as ‘owning’ the account before making changes. They may even ask for your email address for correspondence.

I can see how the credit check is relevant, but if going on to a similar or lower cost plan and you have been a reliable creditor, then the rest seems superfluous.

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I suspect they have a script to follow, and with the high technology our leading companies are accustomed to there are no branch or conditional statements in them. They are scripted for the worst case, so they start asking with #1 and go to ‘n’ in order displayed to the CSO without skipping any. Asking and recording the answers is possibly the CSO’s entire job responsibility excepting for something about signing up more expensive or additional products and services.

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That is why I enjoy inserting conditional ‘if’ statments and pointing out logic loops. Totally flumoxes them. :crazy_face:

I’ve been a bad boy…

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I noted in the OP’s post that due to a CC hack “also credit card hacking used to pay other peoples Telstra bills” & “arrange to continue a monthly deduction of $90 from a valid credit card” that Telstra perhaps was ensuring that they were talking to the real owner of the account/plan and not another person trying to steal the account or some larger identity theft. They may acquire the extra data eg income stream to carry out credit checks as others noted. Much of the data they collected as pointed out above is now required by Govt legislation including Anti Terrorism laws we have here. Telstra may be largely not to blame for the intrusiveness of the questions, and I will say somewhat tongue in cheek that it is voters who supported these intrusive laws that are to blame.

If you are on a Pension you may be entitled to a fee reduction for using your CC with Telstra so that also may be a reason to ask if you had pension income.

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It amazes me how compliant and unquestioning the replies are "its required Govt Legislation " . I guess its not worth mentioning Fascism and how this and other Dictatorial Regimes have never had so much information and 24/7 surveillance powers on their citizens until now. Don’t question the Power just go along with it. Choice should be leading the charge against this.

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A relevant point. If the person is too offended by the intrusive questions, the option is open to take up a prepaid plan. You are then no credit risk to the company and they don’t need to ask about your sources of income, your assets etc.

Another aspect of this is that in many cases it is the credit card company that is on the hook if you default, so the credit card company may impose checking requirements as part of the merchant agreement.

A further aspect of this is that some companies will insure the credit risk (particularly if you are not paying by credit card), and in order to meet the conditions for getting that insurance, the company is obliged to carry out due diligence, which may be fairly limited for a mere $50 a month but also may not be able to be waived. So it’s a bit tick-a-box.

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All this is why I do not do postpaid plans. If I can get my unlimited calls and a minimum of data (because I have used maybe 3GB in the last twelve months) for $10 a month, with auto-recharge, why on earth would I pay 3-4 times as much… or more, if its Telstra.

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There are quite a few other posts in these fora discussing legislative over-reach, for instance regarding metadata retention. While personal privacy is definitely relevant to this particular thread, I think most of us recognise that in certain circumstances there is a need to absolutely, definitely, positively confirm that the person is who they say they are and that they have the capacity to meet their contractual obligations.

Going through the OP’s details of what Telstra demanded:

  • full name - definitely needed to prove who you are.
  • address - also assists in proving who you are (how many John Smiths use Telstra?).
  • full date of birth - another point of identity checking.
  • mobile phone numbers - so far, all the listed items can be looked up by someone looking to steal your accounts. Mobile phone numbers are included in this.
  • drivers licence number - a little harder for a n’e’r-do-well to get.
  • land line number - easy for a hacker to find out.
  • email address - easy for a hacker to find.
  • whether we own our home or not - credit check.
  • whether I have a job, or if I’m on the pension or live off superannuation - credit check.

So the last two items on this list are probably over-reach. The others could be simplified, but I would prefer to hand over this much data than have my mobile phone account - and subsequently a dozen other accounts that rely upon little else but a text message to reset a password - hacked.

Obviously, Telstra was trying to up-sell @yoda1 and some of the listed information should not have been necessary. Probably the email address and the land line number, for instance - and definitely the ‘credit check’ items.

It is possible to get Telstra to set a password on your account so nothing happens to it without them checking that you know the password - but most of their staff don’t know about this feature so it’s pretty much useless (their systems don’t require that the password be entered in order to access/change your account details).

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so after i created this topic around a month ago and putting in a complaint to Telstra the same day, they have finally replied. So while conceding I have been a customer for 25 years in their answer, and also knowing I have not missed one payment in 25 years, and in distant days the payments were far greater, they now need all this very detailed house ownership and employment status and superannuation status because they care so much they don’t want me to take on crippling debt by continuing to pay my $90 per month, which they will cancel the first time I don’t pay. and if you believe that, pigs fly, the moon is made of cream cheese, and the martians caused the bushfires. Whatever motive they have in accruing very personal financial information , it is NOT so I won’t go bankrupt in a month for a $90 bill!

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This is complicated though.

For a postpaid plan it is reasonable that they know who you are. If you default on a $5000 phone bill for one month and do a runner, they reasonably may wish to take action against you to recover the amount owing or at the very least ensure that your failure to pay is accurately recorded against your credit history.

For a prepaid plan it is very unreasonable. There is no business justification. The requirement comes directly from the aforementioned government overreach. (That overreach applies equally to the postpaid plan, but for the postpaid plan the provider would want to know who you are anyway.)

In a sense though both of these arise from the same underlying problem.

  1. There are bad people who do bad things.
  2. All the remaining good people suffer as a consequence.

because, for example, in reality the majority of customers will not rack up a $5000 phone bill and will not default on paying their bill whatever the much smaller amount is.

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