TECHNOLOGY

iPhone 4 Pre-Sale MELTDOWN: Orders Exposed Private Info, Charged iPhone To Wrong Users

06/16/2010 11:06 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

UPDATE More hiccups with the iPhone 4 pre-sale: the iPhone 4's arrival has been delayed.

The Apple Store has updated the iPhone pre-order page with a new, later "ship by" date. Pre-order the iPhone 4 and it will arrive by July 14th--not June 24th, as originally listed.

The pre-sale problems don't seem to have slowed orders of the iPhone 4. Apple said over 600,000 iPhones (a new record) were pre-ordered on the first day.

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UPDATE

AT&T suspended iPhone 4 pre-orders in the wake of reports that a glitch may have mistakenly exposed users' private account information.

Boy Genius Report received a memo from AT&T saying that pre-orders for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS had been "temporarily suspended." It read:

Effective close of business on June 15, 2010, the ability to place pre-orders (new activations, upgrades and exchanges) has been temporarily suspended. There is a special team that will be manually working all pre-orders from June 15th that were held in a pending status. Under no circumstances should new pre-orders be attempted in the system.

Citing emails from Apple customers who attempted to buy the new phone, Gizmodo writes that orders for the new iPhone have not only given users access to other people's accounts, but, in some cases, iPhone purchases been charged to the wrong users.

Gizmodo writes:

Not only AT&T has exposed credit card and shipping address information through their servers and the Apple Store, but it may be very possible that many people have used this wrong information to place the order. This could result in people placing an order with their credit cards, and other people receiving the iPhone 4.

A revamp of AT&T's software may be to blame for the pre-order issues. Engadget cites an "insider source" who suggested that the problems may stem from "a major fraud prevention overhaul of AT&T's software last weekend, which was followed by 'absolutely no testing' prior to the iPhone 4's launch."

If you were going to buy an iPhone 4, do these pre-order issues make you think twice? Will you still get one?

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple and AT&T faced two major problems taking orders for the newest iPhone model just a week before it hits stores: Buyers reported problems registering their orders and an apparent glitch in AT&T's website was steering some customers into strangers' accounts.

Troubles in meeting demand for the iPhone aren't new.

But the latest apparent breach and other recent security foul-ups by AT&T could lead to identity theft � and have consequences for both companies. Customers have called for Apple to allow other carriers to serve the iPhone in the U.S., and the latest problems offer another argument.

The computer systems at Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone, or AT&T Inc., its exclusive U.S. carrier, have had various problems every year since the first iPhone launched in 2007.

Some customers who tried to buy an iPhone 4 on Tuesday said they were met with error messages on the company websites, and lines formed in stores as clerks tried to get orders into their systems.

Despite the problems, orders for launch-day shipments of the iPhone 4 sold out. On Wednesday morning, AT&T's site was no longer accepting orders. Apple's site was accepting orders only for black models, and would only guarantee shipment by July 2. That sets the scene for long lines at stores on June 24, when the phone is released.

The iPhone 4 costs $199 or $299, depending on the memory capacity. It will feature a higher-resolution screen, longer battery life and thinner design than last year's model.

Japanese phone company Softbank started taking orders earlier in the day, and was also flooded with requests. Softbank spokesman Furuya Katsuhide said that the better-than-expected demand had stressed the company's systems, which slowed both its website and the reservation process at stores.

On Gizmodo.com, a technology website, several readers posted stories of trying to log into their AT&T accounts to upgrade to the newest iPhone and being sent instead into strangers' accounts. That could set the stage for identity theft scams such as ordering other products under that person's name.

AT&T said it received reports of customers seeing the wrong account information but wasn't able to replicate the problem and was investigating. But the company said the personal information users were seeing in one another's accounts didn't include Social Security numbers, credit card information or detailed call logs.

Just last week, AT&T plugged an embarrassing security hole on its website that exposed the e-mail addresses of people who had bought another new Apple product, the iPad.

And in January, AT&T acknowledged to The Associated Press that a problem in its network was causing some wireless customers to land in strangers' Facebook accounts when they tried to check their own accounts using their smart phones. AT&T said it was fixing that glitch.

It doesn't happen often, but the Internet can forget who is who when multiple people log onto a site at the same time.

AT&T blamed a "misdirected cookie" for at least one of the problems in January. A cookie is a file websites place on users' computers to identify them. If the Internet provider fumbles a cookie and sends it to the wrong computer, the person using that computer will see a Web page he or she wasn't expecting.

Apple representatives didn't immediately respond to requests for comment late Tuesday.

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Associated Press Writers Tomoko A. Hosaka contributed from Tokyo. Svensson reported from New York.

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