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Personal data complaints spike following Optus breach

Personal data complaints spike following Optus breach

The issue received five times more complaints than it did a quarter ago within a week.

Cynthia Gebert (Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman)

Cynthia Gebert (Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman)

Credit: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Optus’ data breach has caused a major spike in mobile complaints about unauthorised disclosures of personal information in the first quarter of this financial year.

According to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) quarterly report for the quarter ending 30 September 2022, 498 complaints were recorded relating to customers' personal data. 

As the breach took place in late September, this sudden rise in unauthorised disclosures took place over the course of a single week and generated five times the level of complaints seen in the quarter prior, the body claimed.

This shot the issue up to fifth place in the top 5 issues for mobile services during the quarter, which is a first for the complaint category, according to TIO Cynthia Gebert.

“This is an evolving situation and the issues related to the data breach will continue to emerge in the following quarters,” she said

“It’s really scary to have your personal information exposed. We’ve established a dedicated team to look at these complaints specifically and we’re working closely with Optus and the relevant parties so that we can resolve complaints as efficiently and effectively as possible during an already stressful time for consumers.”

In addition, grievances about termination fees were also up, rising by 28.5 per cent to ninth place in the top 10 rankings, coming in at 361 complaints.

Overall complaints were down to 16,310 however, a decrease of 8.6 per cent in the previous quarter and 23.9 per cent in the same period last year.

Mobile issues were the most complained about, making up 47 per cent of all gripes and increasing by 2 per cent quarter-on-quarter, while internet, landline and multiple service provider complaints were down by 17 per cent, 22 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.

“It’s great to see overall complaints decline this quarter. There also continues to be some really good improvements from the industry, with many telcos recording decreases in complaint numbers,” Gebert added.

The quarter decline in overall complaints to the TIO aligns with data released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority last month, which stated that complaints per 10,000 services to the country’s top telcos declined from 2021 to 2022.


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