Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Form of Identity Theft!!

I recently had a disturbing encounter with Identity Theft and thought I would share what happened and how you can prevent it!!!

Two months in a row my phone bill had been $15 higher than before. The first month I ignored it because I was too busy to delve into it and assumed I had a promotional rate on my Internet that had expired. So the second month I took the time to look over my bill. The only strange thing was a new entry called Enhanced Services Billing, Inc. I thought what the heck new service is this, I did not sign up for anything.

So, I called AT&T (ignoring the number under the charge). I was told that I had authorized some kind of charge from an outside company to piggy back on my phone bill. I was surprised to hear this. Basically I can have other services bill me on my phone bill instead of sending their own bill. Well, I knew this had not happened and explained this to the agent. I was told that I would have to call the number I had ignored to fix the problem.

I called the number and after entering in all my phone number I was transferred to the company where the bill originated. It was an e-mail service. I explained that I had not signed up for a service. They informed me that I had or who ever did assured them they had authorization from me to do it. They had signed up from one of those Internet surveys where you can get a gift card if you fill out the survey and then subscribe to one or more services. I explained to her that my husband and I view those like we do viruses - we don't touch them!! She offered to refund only the last months charge. I said fine. I was sent a confirmation e-mail.

After reading it I was irritated to a whole new level. The only thing they asked for was my name, phone number, and birthday. This is all available on the Internet, easy, easy to find. When you call AT&T you have to have a Social, so why are they not getting more information? I checked the location of the IP address - somewhere in North Carolina. Why didn't they check? So I called back and talked to a supervisor who refunded me the other months charge as well.

They said the refunds could take up to 2 billing cycles - so I am still waiting to see. Once I have the refunds I will then call AT&T and tell them to mark my account as not accepting of outside bills on my account.
So - call your phone company and make sure your account is protected!

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