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News : Telemarketers Protest Sales Ban
Feb 3, 2014 -- Tens of thousands of telemarketers are moving to take collective action against a recent government ban on sales of financial products through telemarketing.
The Korea Contact Center Association (KCCA), which represents some 120,000 telemarketers, said on Monday that it will hold a massive protest rally in front of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) in Yeouido, Seoul, on Thursday.
A number of telemarketers are on the brink of losing their jobs after the regulator banned financial firms last week from selling their products by telephone, text messages and emails until the end of March as part of measures to prevent possible financial scams using stolen consumer data. The three firms which suffered the latest data leakage, KB Kookmin Card, Lotte Card and NH NongHyup Bank, have been slapped with a longer ban until May.
"The telemarketing ban is wreaking havoc on telemarketers, who are already working under poor conditions," the association said in a statement. "They have nothing to do with the recent data leaks, but are suffering the damage due to the government’s measures. The government should come up with measures to protect them."
According to the association, most telemarketers are paid very little. However, many of them have been told by their firms to go on leave until the temporary ban is lifted. There are also reports that some firms are planning to cut the quota for telemarketers.
"The ban is threatening our jobs. We can’t accept this situation," said Hwang Kyu-man, a KCCA spokesman.
Hwang said the biggest problem is that the government is regarding telemarketers who belong to financial firms as potential criminals.
"The telemarketing ban reflects concerns that the stolen consumer data could be misused by scammers. However, telemarketers are not scammers," Hwang said.
The Financial Services Commission (FSC), however, said it will crack down on illegal telemarketing activities.
"We received reports that some telemarketers are using phones registered under false names or internet-based phones to continue selling products," Ko Seung-beom, a senior FSC official, said Monday. "These sales activities will be strictly banned, and violators will be subject to punishment. The temporary ban is necessary to prevent possible financial crimes resulting from the data leaks. We need cooperation from financial firms."
At the same time, Ko asked firms to ensure the job security of telemarketers. "We’ve told firms not to cut jobs for telemarketers or give them disadvantages due to the sales ban," Ko said.
The FSC plans to examine consumer data management systems at all credit card firms in Korea beginning this week. Based on the inspection, the regulator will determine the levels of punishment for firms that are "deemed vulnerable" to data theft and their executives.
FSC officials said this is to set up a data-theft monitoring system that encompasses all card issuers as well as their subcontractors and sales agents. The FSC will focus on data sharing between the card firms and their subcontractors. Some firms have outsourced their telemarketing and data processing work to save labor costs.
KB, Lotte and NH have all been banned from signing up new customers and selling new products for three months, and their CEOs have all offered to resign to take responsibility for the data leaks.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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