T-Mobile is once more being accused of failing to guard sensitive consumer data after an worker at considered one of its retail stores stole nude images from a customer’s phone when she got here to trade in an old device, in response to a lawsuit filed Friday.
The incident is analogous to at the least eight others levied against T-Mobile previously, in response to court records and news reports. The lawsuit comes as wireless corporations and other tech giants face increasing pressure from lawmakers to do more to guard customer data.
The suit, filed in Washington state court, accuses T-Mobile of failing to properly train its retail staff and “turning a blind eye” when employees use their access to steal customer data under the guise they’re helping them with repairs and data transfers.
“For nearly a decade, T-Mobile customers across the USA have frequently reported, evidenced by news stories and lawsuits, instances of retail store employees stealing their intimate videos, explicit photos, and bank accounts,” the suit charges. “Nevertheless, T-Mobile has didn’t implement any common sense security hardware or software to guard consumers from their data and privacy being exploited during peculiar transactions on the T-Mobile store.”
In a press release, a T-Mobile spokesperson said: “This was an worker of a third-party authorized retailer, and he was terminated. While we’re unable to comment on the specifics of this pending case, we would like to underscore that we take customer protection and issues like this very seriously. We have now policies and procedures in place to guard customer information and expect them to be followed.”
The victim, who is simply known as “Jane Doe” within the criticism, states she went to a T-Mobile store on the Columbia Center Mall, about 200 miles southeast of Seattle, last October to upgrade her iPhone XS Max to an iPhone 14 Pro Max. While there, she handed the old device off to an worker so he could transfer her data to the brand new device.
While the employee had the phone, he found nude images of the victim and a video of her having sex together with her partner on the camera roll of the XS Max and sent it to himself on Snapchat, the lawsuit states.
Once the transaction was finished, Jane assumed her data was wiped from the old phone until later that evening, when she checked her Snapchat and saw that the pictures had been sent to an unknown account, which police later traced back to the T-Mobile worker.
“Anxious and anxious, Jane unexpectedly returned to the T-Mobile store together with her mother to talk to the shop manager,” the lawsuit states. “During this time, while Jane was in search of assistance on the T-Mobile store, the unauthorized person continued to log into her social media accounts on the iPhone XS Max.”
At first, staff claimed there had been no trade-ins that day, but with help from mall security and native police, Jane’s old phone was present in the back room.
“Reasonably than helping Jane out within the face of the sexual privacy crime, the T-Mobile manager said if Jane wanted access back to the old device that had been weaponized against her, Jane would want to pay them the quantity that they’d discounted her for the trade-in,” the lawsuit states. “Jane’s mother on Jane’s behalf surrendered and paid the quantity.”
The worker was later charged with first degree computer trespass, a felony, and disclosing intimate images, which is a criminal offense in most states, in response to the lawsuit. He pleaded guilty last month, the suit says.
The lawsuit was filed by Carrie Goldberg and Laura Hecht-Felella on the Latest York-based C.A. Goldberg firm and Emma Aubrey from the Washington-based Redmond Law Firm.
Goldberg, who regularly takes on tech giants for failing to guard consumers, called her latest suit a “classic case of a gargantuan company” chalking off customer injury as a price of doing business.
“T-Mobile has long known that its negligent hiring and absent consumer safety policies will end in at the least a few of its customers becoming sexually exploited,” Goldberg told CNBC.
“T-Mobile has big incentive programs to induce customers to upgrade their devices and switch of their old ones. However the ugly truth is that T-Mobile knows that employees sometimes steal customers’ most intimate images and videos from the old devices they relinquish,” Goldberg added. “This case shows that no one should feel their privacy is secure at T-Mobile.”