Telephone giant AT&T confirmed subscriber personal information was accessed in a data breach that took place sometime from April 9 to 21. AT&T reported the incident in a California regulatory filing, confirming three employees working with a partner vendor accessed the information. It is believed they were trying to unlock devices for re-sale, and accessed Social Security numbers and birth dates along the way.
If a smartphone is unlocked, the device can be easily re-sold by AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers, and the phone can be used on most mobile phone networks outside of the country. Many lost smartphones are quickly available on international markets, outside of the United States.
"Employees of one of our service providers violated our strict privacy and security guidelines by accessing your account without authorization," AT&T warned customers in a letter. "AT&T believes the employees accessed your account as part of an effort to request codes from AT&T that are used to unlock AT&T mobile phones in the secondary mobile phone market."