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900,000 Virgin Media customers affected by data breach

900,000 Virgin Media customers affected by data breach

Virgin Media has apologised after a database containing personal details of 900,000 customers was accessed without permission due to being "incorrectly configured".

The database was used for marketing purposes and held customer contact details, including names, phone numbers, home and email addresses and, in some cases, dates of birth.

Virgin says the database didn't contain any passwords or financial details.

The firm says it has now shut down access to the database, which had been left unsecured as a result of an error rather than a hack or cyber attack, but it confirmed it had been accessed at least once without permission.

The incident has been reported to the Information Commissioner's Office, and Virgin has launched an investigation into what happened.

It says it has contacted all affected customers with advice on what to do next – and we've full safety tips below.

See our 30+ Ways to Stop Scams guide for information on keeping your data safe.

I'm affected by the breach – what can I do?

Virgin Media says it doesn't yet know the extent to which the database was accessed, or whether any of the information has been used.

It has stressed that no financial details such as credit card information or bank account numbers was included in the database – though as always, it's worth staying vigilant by regularly checking your bank and credit card transactions, and contacting your bank if you spot anything unusual or unfamiliar.

There's a chance personal information from the database could be used by criminals to carry out phishing attacks or attempts at identity fraud, so it's important to be aware of the risks. For example:

  • Be cautious of clicking on links in text messages or emails. 
  • Remember that no genuine organisation will contact you out of the blue to ask for details such as your PIN or banking password. Virgin Media has also reiterated that it will never call or email customers asking for bank account details.

See our 30+ Ways to Stop Scams guide for full help on protecting yourself from fraud.

The ICO says it's "making enquiries" after being informed of the incident by Virgin Media – but in the meantime, if you're affected and unhappy with the service you've received from Virgin, you can make a complaint using Virgin's live chat or online form, or by calling 0345 454 1111.

What does Virgin Media say?

Lutz Schüler, chief executive of Virgin Media, said: "We recently became aware that one of our marketing databases was incorrectly configured, which allowed unauthorised access.

"We immediately solved the issue by shutting down access to this database, which contained some contact details of approximately 900,000 people, including fixed-line customers representing approximately 15% of that customer base.

"Protecting our customers' data is a top priority and we sincerely apologise."