What is CPNI? Did you get the AT&T email? Could you opt-out? #privacy #PRfail

May 21, 2012

in Mobility, VoIP

What is CPNI? Who writes the AT&T garbage AND UNDECIPHERABLE e-mails that end up TELLING me about my account and then when I read very carefully are broken when I try to do something about it? Like opt-out?

According to AT&T CPNI is important information about the privacy of my customer information. You read the info below as ask yourself.

  1. Is it clear and easy to read?
  2. What and why are they asking for this in plain English that my mother could understand.
  3. Why did I receive it? I’m a mobile customer. What does that have to do with VoIP? Or Internet Protocol. I just make phone calls don’t I and have a data plan for the internet? To my knowledge I don’t purchase VoIP services from AT&T currently. So what is this really for?
  4. Basically they want to share my data – to what end I have no idea. However, there is not suggestion of a benefit for me.
  5. Where do I opt out? Oh really hidden text . By this point I figure that 90% of the people will have ignored it as too complex to understand thinking – what’s the risk.
  6. Click the link. Try to opt out. It failed for me. Doesn’t recognize my account. Then says use the account at the top of the email. I don’t use that account number – guess I could log in and try and find it. AT&T makes it hard because my account works with them using my phone number! That’s what they have trained me to use.
  7. So as I can’t log-in and opting out might take hours to resolve AT&T will just start using my CPNI. SUCKS.
  8. What is CPNI – Well as they say it is my “Customer Proprietary Network Information”. See Wikipedia.
  9. AT&T doesn’t bother to sign the e-mail. There is no person that executed this – just various numbers. No one department seems to take responsiblity. Who worries about communications? Obviously not at the top.
  10. I’m the customer – it’s obvious that AT&T isn’t really on my side. It’s reinforced over and over. They are also similar to any of the other mobile operators. So it’s almost pointless to complain. However, complain we all should. It’s getting more serious by the day.

I’d have to be a lawyer and an expert to actually know what’s going on. Just be certain that notes like these are never really for your benefit. Still AT&T how many times till I can opt-out as easily as I can from any other spam email?

Note from AT&T below.

An important message about the privacy of your customer information (Customer Proprietary Network Information or CPNI)

Regarding Your Account: xxxxxxxxx4444
The protection of our customers’ privacy is of utmost importance to the employees and management of the AT&T family of companies (AT&T)*.  Please take a moment to read the following important message about the privacy of your customer information.

AT&T companies that provide telecommunications and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service (which permits VoIP customers to both send and receive calls to/from customers with traditional telephone/telecommunications service) would like to share your customer proprietary network information within the AT&T family of companies for our own marketing purposes, including using that information to offer you additional products and services.

What is CPNI? Your CPNI includes the types of telecommunications and interconnected VoIP services you currently purchase, how you use them and the related billing for those services. CPNI does not include your telephone number, your name or your address. Protecting the confidentiality of your CPNI is your right and our duty under federal law.

As an AT&T customer, you can restrict the use of your CPNI even within the AT&T family of companies. To allow AT&T to use your CPNI, no further action is required. AT&T will not use your CPNI to offer you other products and services until at least 33 days after this notice was mailed to you. AT&T and our authorized agents will not sell, trade or share your CPNI with anyone other than those who are in the AT&T family of companies or are AT&T authorized agents, unless required by law.

If at any time you would prefer that AT&T not use your CPNI to offer you additional products and services, you may:

        - Click


      to submit your request electronically
        - Call


       24 hours a day, 7 days a week and follow the prompts
        - Call


       and speak to a service representative

Your decision to permit or restrict the use of CPNI will remain in effect until you decide to change it – which you can do at any time without charge. Restricting our use of your CPNI will not affect the provision of any AT&T products or services to which you currently subscribe, nor will it eliminate other types of marketing contacts.

Thank you for choosing AT&T. We appreciate your business. *The AT&T family of companies are those AT&T companies that provide communications-related products and/or services, including the AT&T local and long distance companies, AT&T Corp., AT&T Long Distance, AT&T Internet Services, AT&T Mobility, and other subsidiaries or affiliates of AT&T Inc. that provide, design, market or sell these products and/or services. Thank you,AT&T Online Serviceswww.att.com 

PS. I tried calling as well. They want the account number – not my phone number and don’t recognize that I’m calling in on my AT&T mobile phone. In other words this whole process is made extremely difficult and it was designed purposely like this by AT&T to make sure the fewest number opt-out. To add insult to injury they suggest on the phone that I can just look at my bill. Well it is an online bill and yes I do know where to find this account number – I think.

  • Jay

    You have tried to make this sound complicated and it’s not. They made this very clear and easy to understand. I don’t support this and I have chosen to opt out. I clicked the link, entered my account number, zip code, and checked the box. Relax, there’s more important things in this world to spend your time complaining about.

  • Paul C

    Sounds to me like you opt out and ask questions later. If given the choice, I always opt out first, then let the company attempt to re-justify why they need more from me. My 2 cents.

  • Ruby Forrest

    Also notice the whole thing is ridiculous. I also have nothing to do with Voip. It might be a scam. It doesn’t even make any sense. They say they want to share your CPNI with whoever, for marketing purposes, including using the information to sell you products and services BUT further on it says the CPNI does NOT include your address or phone number… SO.. how do they contact you to sell you the products and services??? DUH

  • James

    This exact thing is happening to me right now. It’s ridiculous. I’ve input my information on the form to opt out, but it gives me an unspecified error and tells me to call in. This is basically just AT&T’s way of making more money off of your personal information with giving you the absolute minimum amount of control required by law. Shoddy implementation, shoddy instructions, and shoddy customer service. In that sense, nothing new from this company.

  • Rob

    I too use a different account number to pay my bill than the one on my wireless account. They claimed in their email that I could use the account number in the email.. unfortunately, that number is partially masked, like so : “XXX XXX 703″ … which is definitely not the number on my bill, but also useless in their system. I called the rep, and after going around and listening to a misleading description of what CPNI is (“it just let’s us talk to you, sir”) I finally got what I think the right number is out of her. Though she spent quite a bit of time obfuscating. They are playing mind games, so AT&T must be punishing customer service reps based on the number of people they let opt out. Because they would never directly tell these folks to lie. When anyone is watching.

  • Terrie

    It looks like a new “Amazon-Like” affilaite progam being offered by ATT- more profit for them as they use their customer list to sell to “Affiliates”
    OPT OUT unless you want to be bombarded
    Check out the link from the ATT Website

  • Li

    They didn’t make it hard to process a cancellation but they left a ton of room for blundering the process. I did this in under 1 minute by logging into my account, on the front page is your account number which is all you need along with your zip code. I can see some people using the wrong number, entering the wrong number, not paying attention and not clicking the restricted box. This is a really scummy move because it doesn’t benefit the user at all. Keep giving me more reasons to leave AT&T. For those who don’t think it’s a big deal don’t see the big picture or care about privacy invasion.

  • Carll

    Yeah Jay, your right, freedom isn’t important. Just relax and watch all my privacy float away. I was on the phone for a half hour till I hung up, they would not allow me to opt out, period. Unreal.

  • Dan Ellis

    I just got this. Clicking the link in the message (using the gmail web interface) didn’t even take me to the right page, just took me to the generic at&t account login. Only when I extracted the final target URL from the click-tracing URL did I actually get to enter my account number & zip.

    What interests me is that they even bothered to ask: I take this as evidence that there is some legal requirement that they offer me opt-out rather than just using my personal information for marketing. If so, it should *definitely* be a violation of that law that they have “complied” in such a blatantly insincere and ineffective way, clearly designed to discourage and disrupt people from completing the opt-out. If it isn’t, then the law is a sham.

  • Lauren

    This is irritating. I tried to do it by phone and it said the account number would be on my email, as pointed out above, it isn’t. Only the last few digits are. So i tried going to the “click here” link and got redirected to att.com front page. so I have to hunt down this page myself to opt out. They don’t make it easy to find. here is the link if anyone wants it.


  • Michael

    here’s the direct link to opt-out: http://www.att.com/ecpnioptout

    Just have your at&t wireless account ready (which will be on your bill or on the front page of at&t.com when you log in) and your zip code.

    Took 1 minute

  • http://www.henshall.com Stuart

    I still fail to understand why when I log-in with my phone number and password and visit this page that my account number is not presented to me. AT&T has all my information including my zip code. It’s purposely broken or difficult and that was the point of my original post. Little point in again complaining about the lack of plain english.

    I note that this post still appears after searching google for CPNI. I suspect that won’t happen much longer.

  • Harry

    Here’s information from FCC.gov (http://www.fcc.gov/guides/protecting-your-telephone-calling-records) about CPNI. I’m not an expert on the topic, but sharing information about which numbers are called by the user seems scary….

    Information that Your Telephone Company Collects

    Your local, long distance and wireless telephone companies, as well as your Voice over Internet Provider (VoIP), collect information such as the numbers you call and when you call them, as well as the particular services you use, such as call forwarding or voice mail. These companies collect this customer information, also called Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) so they can provide the services you have requested and send you bills for them.

    Protecting Your Customer Information

    Both Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) impose requirements on telephone companies and VoIP providers about how they can use this personal information and what they must do to protect it from disclosure. Both Congress and the FCC have strengthened their rules to combat a practice known as “pretexting,” or posing as the actual customer or a law enforcement official to obtain telephone calling records. In some cases, data brokers offer calling records for sale on the Internet. Congress has passed a law making it a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment of up to 10 years to obtain calling records from a telephone company or VoIP provider by: making false or fraudulent statements, providing fraudulent documents, or accessing customer records without prior authorization through the Internet or fraudulent computer-related activities. The law also prohibits the unauthorized sale or transfer of confidential phone records or the purchase or receipt of such information with knowledge that it was obtained fraudulently or without authorization.


  • Wu

    I tried to opt out at the website they provided as well as using the phone, but they have purposely blocked it. I think we should all look for other providers. How about Verizon? How is it treating its customers?

  • Wu

    Does anyone know what kind of customer protective services are out there to protect us from such a scam?

  • suzy

    I tried to opt out on-line can’t find form. Called the number on letter, given another number to call, said they couldn’t find my account, given another number to call, ended up with small business accounts, hung up. Of course all this was recordings, not a person. Back to square one!

  • Burgess

    Stuart you’re exactly right. This is sleazy.

    Got the same email (by the way, how can I distinguish this from a phishing attack?). Got the same problem–unspecified error message. Where do you find your account number–certainly not in the email that their web site says IS SUPPOSED TO contain your account number. And not on my current bill–they recently changed account numbers.

    The language in the email is clearly intended to hide their legal obligation. Their legal obligation is to get your permission to use your private information before using it. Pretty sleazy to use an opt-OUT program, which means they ASSUME your permission unless you figure out how to disagree.

    And finally, their description of CPNI is wildly misleading:

    “Your CPNI includes the types of telecommunications and interconnected VoIP services you currently purchase, how you use them and the related billing for those services. CPNI does not include your telephone number, your name or your address.”

    Obviously, by “including” VOIP, it misleads people into thinking that it doesn’t apply to them if they’re not using VOIP. But of course it ALSO applies to cell phones and analog land lines. And while the CPNI may not include your phone number or name, it still includes your account number and other information that identifies you! CPNI allows them to look you up–so they can contact you to try to sell you additional services–that’s the whole point of this campaign.

    Very misleading.

  • Devra

    It worked for me, but then I’m not with ATT for my cell service, however I do have them for my UVerse/Wireless service and home phone. I was able to opt out from my cell phone with my Sprint Sevice no problem…

  • Dave

    This is outrageous. It says to enter account, but it didn’t give me my full account number. It The first 5 digits are XXXXX. I have no idea what account this is. I haven’t had AT&T for the longest time. Online service representatives have limited hours so I can’t call. So frustrating, no wonder I left AT&T. Horrible customer service, poorly worded documentation, it is a joke.

  • amy

    Oh yeah, real easy. This’ll make the third time I’ve opted out. No doubt as soon as I get my account number tattooed on my hand for easy access, they’ll change their opt-out game.

    Note that they’re saying you can call to *request* to have your name removed. Not that they will do it.

  • Ryan

    I got this notice via snail mail. I’ve been on hold now for 30 minutes trying to opt-out. I’m starting to wonder if anyone’s there or if it’s just a hold line that goes on and on until I hang up.

  • chet

    So I am not a current AT&T customer. I was a AT&T but I moved to a different wireless provider. So I tried calling the number but they required that I have my account number. Well I know what my cell phone number was when I was with AT&T but they can only do the opt-out with my account number, which I no longer have. If they can send me a letter to my address and include the last four digits of my old account number then they certainly can reference my cell phone number in their records.

    I don’t know how this complies with the CPNI compliance rules. Has anyone raised this with the FCC?

  • matinik

    this is really a scam..about this CPNI,they said i have an account?no idea what they are talking about.well they can bill me as much as they want,collect as much as they want from me,it might just be good that way…hope my bill will build as high as amountain,in that way when time comes i can sue them.they can not make any money from me,but i can coz they will lose.

  • Tom

    ATT is among the worst-run companies with respect to customer service that I have ever had the misfortune to deal with. This latest CPNI email is entirely consistent with all my previous experience with them. How any modern company could believe it appropriate to send out an email saying “regarding your account xxxx2345″ when in fact, that “2345″ is just a filler and has nothing to do with your real account number is beyond me. If our government were not so corrupt and so totally in the pocket of companies like AT&T, all this “information sharing” would be strictly on an “opt-in” basis in the first place.

  • Debra

    I was so tired of AT&T’s run-around that I researched the way to file a complaint about their CPNI Opt-Out practices.

    Make a formal complaint to the FCC with this online complaint form: http://www.fcc.gov/complaints


    You can also file a complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaint using an online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

    Federal Communications Commission
    Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
    Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
    445 12th Street, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20554

    More information can be found here: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/protecting-your-telephone-calling-records

  • Debra

    Offered here is a link to an AT&T Customer Service Forum; your communication will be sent to a CS Rep: http://forums.att.com/t5/notes/privatenotespage/tab/compose

  • http://davelinabury.com/ Dave Linabury

    The bullshit part of this is that opting out doesn’t do much. Look at their copy:

    “† Restricting our use of your CPNI will not eliminate other types of marketing contacts from AT&T, nor will it eliminate our use of your CPNI to offer additional services of the type you already purchase from AT&T.”

  • Michael Anderson

    This is all mandated by the FCC. You can review their orders 97-398 and 07-22. Not the carriers’ fault.

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