Scripps Howard News Service recently found that TerraCom Inc. and its affiliate YourTel America Inc., both of which provide discounted phone service to low-income families through the federal Lifeline program, had mistakenly made more than 170,000 customers' records available online.

The records, which the Scripps reporters say they found through a simple Google search, were for customers in at least 26 different states, and included Social Security numbers and birthdates. The news service reports that 343 of the records had been accessed by unknown individuals.

According to the Scripps report, TerraCom uses a company called Call Centers India, also known as Vcare Corp., to review applications and store data. Following the discovery of the breach, TerraCom told Scripps that Vcare began an "intensive investigation of its system."

And in an odd twist, Dale Schmick, COO for both TerraCom and YourTel, is now alleging that Scripps put "applicants' personal data files at risk when they downloaded the records," adding, "This is a very serious matter and we are actively investigating the full extent of any security breach."

TerraCom and YourTel customers who are concerned about the security of their personal information are advised to contact 855-297-0243.