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Employees Snooping in Personal Files of Customers

Your Two Cents: Do Snooping Workers Surprise You?

An employment case involving Milwaukee-based WE Energies highlights the common practice of employees accessing confidential information, especially prevalent in the utilities, telecommunications, and accounting industries. So what type of poking around are they talking about? In this case it involved a woman compulsively checking her ex-boyfriend's account, a landlord snooping on his tenants' finances, and a woman using the files to track down the father of her child to serve him court papers. The issue of employees sticking their noses where they shouldn't surfaced in 2004, when one employee leaked to the media that a mayoral candidate was often behind in paying his heating bills. Are you surprised that employees are browsing through and misusing information?


Join The Conversation
mandy_frost mandy_frost 9 years
I said "other." I don't know if it is surprising, but it is definitely scary. My social security number is on file at my utility companies. I have great credit, but what if one of their workers didn't? Frightening!
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I can definitely see this in a call center envrionment when I first moved back to Portland I worked for the power company and I looked up my friends or people I knew all the time. I never did anything with it, I just wanted to see if I could find them.
bransugar79 bransugar79 9 years
I worked in a credit call center and we had access to all kinds of personal information. I actually had to make calls to several people I knew and it was a very uncomfortable feeling. Luckily most of them "weren't home" so I never had to confront it. The information in those places is available as long as you have a computer you can see what people buy and how late they are and once you're at higher levels you can do background traces on anyone you want. I never really used any info to get back at anyone but as magickal put it there's nothing else to do. They won't let you read or talk sometimes. You can't do anything other than wait for the next beep.
DreaAST DreaAST 9 years
My previous employer used to monitor internet use and it was not allowed at all. Now, I can do what I want. I think as long as you get your work done, why shouldn't you be allowed to use the internet?
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
I am not surprised at all. Unfortunately some people just dont know when to leave well enough alone. I have had the feeling several times that this was done to me, and it really is a serious violation of your rights in the workplace.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
This happens A LOT in hospitals also! People reading through charts being nosey.
tee0206 tee0206 9 years
I can't say I haven't been tempted to look into files of celebrities, but I'd never actually do it.
counterdeuce counterdeuce 9 years
Nothing bugs me more at work than someone all up in your bidness...
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
It doesn't surprise me. I worked for a credit card company before and saw co-workers snoop at consumer info that was not vital to their job. It's completely wrong and I was happy that the company whenever they saw this activity occurring would fire the employees and work to secure customer info better. It's wholly unethical and shows a lack of scruples on the part of the snooping worker.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Magickal described it pretty well. Cubicle farm, discouraged from really participating in the company other than just the same mindless tasks you do every day. I worked somewhere like that during college, and I did look up some celebrity info. It was very interesting, but I would never ever share that info with even my closest family members. I can't imagine doing anything like that now, but luckily I haven't had to work at a place like that since! I can only imagine the million ways that people running these places will try to prevent this by taking away even more freedom and crushing the souls of their employees.
magickalrealism magickalrealism 9 years
Having worked for companies where scads of data is before me, I can tell you exactly what happens most of the time: You're in corporate America, on the lowest rung - customer service. You are empowered to do nothing, and your job is to placate people, collect their money, and make them go away. Said corporation has gone on one of its insane "efficiency binges" and you are allowed ONLY to sit and answer phone calls, even with 20 minutes between each call, despite plenty of evidence that retention goes up, absenteeism goes down, and more creative solutions come forth from employees allowed to apply their own creativity somehow. You may certainly not surf the Internet. You may not knit. You better not be caught reading - and heaven help you if you're caught reading something that might further your career or show any sign that your life's ambition is not to someday be the big man on the phone banks. So, in order to fill the yawning and mentally painful void before having to take verbal abuse or having to ineffectually fumble through helping a customer not get help at all, you do something that looks like work: you pull up accounts. You read them. You do end up getting familiar with the software, with the notes... and after enough digging, you start looking up celebrities. Ex-boyfriends. Mean girls in schools. And if you're psychologically beaten enough from the daily verbal bashing both from employers and call-ins, you start taking acts of revenge that eventually escalate. I never got to the point of identity theft. I had the sense to quit after one day, in an out-of-body moment, I heard myself tell a woman who was complaining about the amount of paper a store generated for receipts and demanding I personally take action about it, "Yes ma'am. The trees will rise up and attack us someday."
kaenai kaenai 9 years
Doesn't shock me at all. People are nosy, plain and simple. Call it curiosity if you like, but I'd prefer to break it down a little further. Nosy people are everywhere. Period.
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