NASHVILLE - Tennesseans know the drill: Call a company's customer-service line and, often, you end up speaking with someone in another country.
It may be an inconvenience because of languages and accents, but there are also more serious concerns, according to a new report from the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson says that, not only do U.S. communities suffer economic damage when jobs are shipped overseas, there's a documented risk of fraud related to employees in overseas call centers.
"There's a basic lack of security protections for your data when it's housed overseas. I think that Americans would be outraged if every American knew that their data is that open to identity theft."
The report says the U.S. government should strongly encourage other countries to pass data privacy laws.
Larson supports proposed bipartisan legislation known as the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act. The bill would take steps to make corporations that send U.S. call-center jobs overseas ineligible for direct or indirect federal loans and grants for five years. It would also give consumers some new basic rights.
"A foreign, overseas call center must notify a U.S. consumer where they are located."
In addition, companies that off-shore their call centers would be put on a list available to the public.
Larson says he hopes the report and legislation will encourage companies to take another look at their outsourcing decisions and consider bringing those jobs back, especially at a time when this country is focused on job creation.
The CWA report is at bit.ly/zwflu4.