Telstra and identity theft

Posted on: August 17, 2009

I have just been rung by Telstra about a billing problem – for some reason it turns out that my bills have been going to Ballarat, a lovely town but one I haven’t been to for at least 20 years, and certainly not a place where I have a post office box, so of course the bills have been going unpaid.  

It was one of those annoying inexplicable mishaps of modern life that takes a while to sort out.  But what I wanted to write about is Telstra’s ridiculous practice of ringing you up and then asking you to confirm your name and your date of birth.  In a world where we are told identity theft is an ever present danger, and that we should not give personal information out unless we are completely and utterly sure of who we are speaking to, it is Telstra’s normal practice to ring people and ask them to give out their name and their date of birth to someone who could be absolute anyone.

You wouldn’t have to be a particularly clever identity thief to realise that all you have to do is look someone in the phonebook and ring them claiming to be Telstra, and bingo, you’ve got their date of birth and you’re on your way.  Thanks for grooming everyone Telstra.

I’ve written a letter and had no reply, I bring it up with them every time they ring me, but the only thing that happens it that they get miffed that I am suggesting that they might not be Telstra.  Even though they have just suggested to me that I’m might not be me.

(About the unpaid bills by the way, the fourth person I was put through to at Telstra, after I  rang them back of course, was very helpful, and I think that’s all resolved.  And she even agreed with me about the date of birth thing and said she’d bring it up with her manager.  Thanks Hannah!


  1. Betty slocombe , says:

    Hello Judy: small world no 997; I just saw a photo of you at the Duck’s opening: you look fab.

  2. beneb , says:

    comment testing!

  3. Caitlin O'Connor , says:

    VERY good point! I won’t have “fly buy” cards because I feel there is already too much data tracking on individuals (I know that makes me sound like a nutcase, I’m not…) and I find Telstra an especially difficult mob to deal with because I don’t want to reveal personal details!

  4. judy , says:

    How funny, it never even occurred to me not to use the number they gave me. And here I was feeling so streetwise. Although in Telstra’s case, the man just gave me the general recorded number so I was on fairly safe ground. Helpfully he didn’t give me any hints about what option I should choose, so I did the rounds a bit, which made it pretty clear it was Telstra.

    It’s really shocking that banks and credit card companies do it too, I’ve never had that. So on the one hand they’re sending out emails and letters saying ‘Never give your personal details on email or on the internet unless you are really sure who you are communicating with’ and on the other hand, they’re ringing people up and insisting on personal details. So stupid.

    It’s fine from my point of view, I can be bolshie, but I worry for more vulnerable people, which is why I try to make a point about it. I was so chuffed when today Hannah of Telstra actually agreed with me and thought it was a good point – that’s never happened before.

  5. David , says:

    I get this all the time, most ridiculously from the banks and credit card companies.

    I’m apologetic, but firm in not supplying the information, and offer to call them back so I know who I’m talking to. They often helpfully suggest a number to call, which I ignore, and I go look up the bill and call back on the number printed there.

    I find that the Asian call centres are particularly miffed at not getting my personal information when they call me – I suspect it goes to their call resolution performance. Stupid.



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