Two major phone companies are paying millions after a federal investigation found they posted the personal information of 300,000 people online.
The companies involved, TerraCom and YourTel America, are part of a government program called Lifeline. Lifeline subsidizes phone service for low income customers.
Federal regulators required all companies to collect personal information, social security numbers, drivers licenses and home addresses to crack down on fraudulent claims.
The FCC says that data should have been destroyed as soon as the companies verified someone qualified for financial assistance. Instead, the data was stored in a format accessible to the Internet from September 2012 through April 2013.
Both TerraCom and YourTel America were so careless with the files that a reporter with the Scripps Howard News Service found them during a simple web search.
An executive with the company says the companies have increased their data security efforts, and says it will work with the FCC to resolve the issue.
What's worse is even after learning the information could be found online, FCC Investigators say both companies did not notify all the customers.
Both TerraCom and YourTel America are only facing a $10 million fine. It's a relatively small penalty when you factor in the price some of these people could pay for having their information posted on the web.