Telstra faces privacy breach investigation

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Botched mailout to 220,000 customers.

The Australian Privacy Commissioner will investigate a botched Telstra mailout that saw 220,000 letters containing personal information sent to the wrong customers.

The letters were incorrectly addressed so recipients opened mail that "contained the name, phone number and telephone plan of other customers", according to a statement issued by the Commissioner and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Telstra had informed both of the matter.

"While I welcome Telstra’s prompt advice that this incident occurred and that it has taken steps to contact affected customers, I am concerned about the amount of personal information that has been disclosed which includes potentially sensitive information such as silent numbers," Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said.

"Customers expect their personal data to be protected by organisations and incidents such as this are very serious.

"For this reason my Office will be opening an investigation into the matter today."

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said the communications watchdog would join the investigation.

"The ACMA’s main priority initially is to limit the damage to consumers caught up in this mail out and where possible to ensure remedies are quickly implemented," Chapman said.

"I have spoken with Telstra and they have assured us they will fully co-operate with the ACMA and other regulatory agencies to minimise the fall out for customers."

Telstra has established a hotline for its affected customers on 1800 307 987.

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