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Plusnet System Upgrade Leads to Data Leaks

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A planned upgrade to billing systems by budget broadband provider Plusnet over the weekend was plagued with bugs, leading to some accounts being shown the names and addresses of other customers.

The botched migration of customer information to a new billing system saw both current and former customers being sent incorrect billing notices or payment requests. Extended outage meant that many consumers were unable to access their accounts to clarify and customers service advisors were similarly unable to handle queries and complaints.

Old and existing Plusnet customers took to Twitter to vent frustrations. One said that over the weekend he’d been sent bills for Plusnet services long after he’d switched to Sky Broadband, while a current Plusnet customer said he’d received a text notifying him he hadn’t paid his monthly bill when he had. Others received emails saying they owned higher sums than they’d anticipated and that their online accounts showed.

The ISP had notified consumers that the upgrade, classed as “routine maintenance,” would require accounts to be inaccessible between 8pm on Friday, 31 August and 7am on Saturday, 1 September, but outages continued throughout the weekend and into Monday morning.

Plusnet said that during the upgrade, a “handful” of customers were shown incorrect account information, including names and addresses of other account holders, but that “full billing details were not visible.” However, it did not clarify how many accounts were affected.

A spokesperson for Plusnet said: “We’d like to reassure all our customers that we immediately prevented access to the My Account section of the website and we quickly fixed the problem.

“We take the protection of our customers’ data extremely seriously, and have informed the relevant authorities,” the Information Commissioners Office.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) is able to levy fines on companies for the leaking of customers’ personal data. It’s not yet known whether they will in the case of the Plusnet leak, which was internal, but may have extended to more than the “handful” of accounts Plusnet identified.

Plusnet said the migration to the new billing system was "one of the biggest projects the company has undertaken in its 21-year history.”

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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