Virgin Media email recycling practice could lead to privacy breach

A recent report has highlighted an email recycling practice currently being used by Virgin Media which could potentially lead to breaches of security.

The report discovered that Virgin Media have been handing out the email addresses of previous customer to new Virgin Media and broadband customers.

Issues could arise in relation to customer privacy should the new owner of the email attempt to register on a website where the former owner of the email address had previously used as the site will inform the new Virgin Media customer that the email is already registered, and will forward password information to the email account.

This means there is the potential for new Virgin Media customers to gain access to former customers’ personal information, such as bank account details in a worst case scenario.

In their defence, Virgin Media say that all customers who leave the company are informed that they will lose their email, and that they should disable any automatic links from the email to other sites they are affiliated with. Furthermore, for three months after the customer leaves, Virgin Media retain the address to ensure all personal links are removed before the email is recycled to a new Virgin Media user.

However experts have warned that in extreme circumstances, there is the potential for companies to be in breach of the Data Protection Act as a result of the email recycling practice currently being employed by Virgin Media.

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