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October 23, 2013

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Courier firm staff under suspicion of huge-scale customer data theft

STAFF at a leading Shanghai courier firm are suspected of selling millions of pieces of personal information on customers to online traders.

These details are then sold to online store owners to forge transaction records.

YTO Express said it was investigating the case and promised to crack down on the information theft, a spokesperson said yesterday.

Personal information taken includes customer names, addresses, phone numbers and the serial numbers from the express company.

Armed with this, unscrupulous online store owners can forge records.

Meanwhile, other businesses can use the information to contact potential customers.

Some 3,000 traders are selling courier numbers and customer information on, the country’s largest online shopping platform.

Much of the information appears to come from YTO.

“I can assure you all the information is real and can give you one free at first,” a seller using the name “Flower Beauty” told Shanghai Daily.

Each piece of information costs 1 yuan (16 US cent) and discounts are offered if 1,000 pieces are bought.

The piece of free information showed details of a YTO delivery from Shanghai to Guangzhou in the southern Guangdong Province, entered into the official company system just two minutes earlier.

“I obtained the information from YTO directly and you can check on its official website to prove it’s genuine,” she said.

It is likely that most of the details are stolen by company staff, said a IT expert surnamed Tang, who has been involved in designing security systems for local courier firms.

An industry selling personal information to online store owners has developed in major Chinese cities among some delivery staff, Xinhua news agency has reported.

“Most of the private information comes from staff with major courier firms, including STO, YTO and Yunda,” one online seller of personal data told Xinhua.

Some online owners buy batches of 10,000 to forge transactions on a grand scale.

Personal information may also be used in scams, extortion and theft.

Shanghai police recently uncovered two large cases of personal information being sold. A total of 18 people were held and 6 million pieces of information found, police said.

To better protect personal information, local courier STO Express has been working with security organizations to destroy customer delivery forms and stop the information falling into the hands of criminals.

STO Express says it will hand over customer dockets every six months for independent security firms to destroy.



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