MuchMusic has warned Web-site contest entrants that their personal information may have been stolen and used by hackers.
The station sent out a mass security advisory e-mail Wednesday night to all entrants saying its contest databases may have been compromised as early as May.
The contests are open to people under the age of 18, and require that entrants provide a street or e-mail address, phone number and age.
Ed Arditti, a father from Windsor, Ont., is upset that MuchMusic didn't post a message on its Web site about the security breach.
"With all the scares about viruses and Trojans and hackers and things, and especially because they're dealing with kids, I would have thought that they would have a pretty secure system in place," Mr. Arditti said. His children, who are in their 20s, had entered contests.
MuchMusic received a complaint in May from viewers who were being contacted by a person claiming to be a station employee, globeandmail.com learned yesterday. In all, 12 to 15 people have complained of prank calls.
The contacts then stopped until slightly more than a week ago, when another viewer received a strange phone call.
Sarah Crawford, vice-president of public affairs for CHUM TV, MuchMusic's parent, said they were quick to look into the problem. "At the time we treated the calls for what they were: nuisance calls."
She said the station determined almost immediately that the prank calls were not coming from an employee. It has hired forensic computer specialists to investigate.
The advisory says that contest entrants have received "prank" phone calls from people pretending to be MuchMusic employees.
"In the first case, someone was calling them at a very strange time of day," Ms. Crawford said. "Either very late at night or very, very early in the morning which made the person suspicious."
People under 18 can enter the contests -- MuchMusic is advertising 10 contests now -- and has published the names of recent winners on-line.
"The issue here is that the Internet is still very much a medium in process and issues of security are always of concern, and people should be very careful about circumstances in which they offer personal information," said Al MacKay, chairman of Media Awareness Network.
He said the best way for parents to Internet-proof children is to establish clear rules and then make sure they understand the nature of what they are dealing with.
"If you receive a call from anyone telling you they are from MuchMusic and they ask you to do anything other than to dial our headquarters, hang up," the station said.