Hacked LivingSocial unplugs the phones as call-center support frozen

Hacked online deals site LivingSocial has temporarily frozen its customer phone support, blaming extremes of call volume from security-worried users. The daily promotions site, in which Amazon is an investor, admitted on Friday that its database had been compromised, with names, email address, some dates of birth, and encrypted passwords of in excess of 50 million users taken. LivingSocial is now working with authorities to investigate the breach, the company said in an email to users, but in the meantime has shut down its telephone support line.

That decision to shift solely to web-based support is one of resources, according to LivingSocial CEO Tim O'Shaughnessy, who argues that a contact-form system will actually result in fewer frustrated customers.

"Because we anticipate a high call volume and may not be able to answer or return all calls in a responsible fashion, we are likely to temporarily suspend consumer phone-based servicing," O'Shaughnessy told Marketwatch. We will be devoting all available resources to our Web-based servicing."

Password and payment safety is always a cause of concern after a site is hacked, but LivingSocial moved quickly to reassure users that their data is, for the most part, safe. The passwords taken were hashed and salted – in short, encrypted – according to the company's FAQ on the data theft, and no credit card information was taken.

Meanwhile, those who signed into LivingSocial using Facebook Connect have not been compromised, with no impact on their Facebook accounts. However, if they ever had cause to create a separate password on the deals site, that must now be changed.

The exact nature of the hack is yet to be detailed, though LivingSocial is actively investigating it. For the moment, the advice is to change your passwords for any other site using the same login credentials as you might have registered on LivingSocial, and keep an eye out for potential spam or phishing attempts that land in your inbox.