Cingular shuts down feature due to security concerns

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Cingular Wireless took down an online system for customers to retrieve account information after the feature sparked security concerns.

Cingular last week started a trial run of a new feature that allowed customers to input their wireless number and zip code to retrieve account balance, minutes available, and access a link to a pay bill option, said Patrick Foarde, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based company.

The pay bill link had an option that would allow a customer who previously paid a Cingular bill online with a credit card to reuse the card, which could potentially allow someone else to make payments on the customer's account with the customer's credit card, he said.

Cingular took down the feature last week after receiving calls from some customers concerned about the level of access the feature allowed, he said. The company also removed similar functionality in its interactive phone system.

Now, customers need passwords to retrieve account information, which how Cingular's account management system previously worked. The new feature was a way to test out streamlined access to customers, Foarde said.

"People like streamlined capabilities but we don't want to do that at the expense of customer security," he added.



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