The US Federal Communications Commission has asked AT&T how private investigators for Hewlett-Packard managed to obtain private phone records of board members and journalists, a government official, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.
The report said the letter of inquiry, the first step in an FCC investigation, was sent last week, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe was still under way.
HP chairwoman Patricia Dunn is under scrutiny in a California state criminal investigation regarding her efforts to plug a media leak, according to the report.
Investigators hired by the company obtained the personal phone records of company directors and at least nine reporters in an attempt to find out who was leaking company information to the press, the report said.
Investigators reportedly used Social Security numbers of the people involved to trick phone companies into turning over telephone records, or a practice known as "pretexting."
In February, the FCC opened a proceeding to examine the practice, particularly as it pertained to data brokers who obtained private telephone information and sold it, the report further said.