This really just happened

I once told a customer service representative from Verizon that I understood why they were the most hated company in America. ‘No,’ she said. ‘We’re actually the second most hated company in America.’

AT&T must be number one.

Y’all know I have memory issues and that if a bill has been paid late, I am the usual suspect. However, when a caller identifies themselves as a bill collector and then asks if I am still living at an address that is not and never has been mine, I figure I’m talking to a scammer.

The third time I received a similar call I dug a little deeper. They said they were calling on behalf of AT&T. Never for a minute did I assume that the bill was not mine but rather explained that given that the address was wrong, there was no way I could have known I’d had an outstanding bill. And could they please send a paper copy.

Which they did. When it came it had no identifying features other than the AT&T logo and the outstanding amount of $155.25, which I promptly paid. But then I also called AT&T to make certain the delinquent payment would not show up on my credit record, as I had not been receiving notices.

Well, at this point in time it became clear that not only was the address associated with the account not mine, nor was the email address or even the phone number. WTH? Multiple phone calls (‘due to unusually high call volume our wait times are longer than usual’) later I was put in touch with the fraud department where a very unpleasant customer service representative ascertained that my identity had been stolen, that it was too bad I’d paid the collection agency, and that they, AT&T were not responsible for any of my troubles. But that they’d go ahead and launch a fraud investigation.

When I got off the phone I called the collection agency and asked them to reverse the charges on my card (they did not). I then called the bank to ask them to stop charges–it was pending and according to them, too late.

Several days later I’d not heard a peep from AT&T so called them this morning (twice, another hour wasted). I learned that A. rather than launching a fraud investigation, my account had been closed due to fraud and B. even if they did refund my $155.25, it would go to the 20 Chester St address and to the person whose bill I already paid. So I am not only out my money, I have a black mark on my credit.

I have filed a formal complaint with the attorney general’s office and will likely seek out a reporter interested in consumer issues as well. But what a freaking mess. AT&T, you suck.

5 responses to “This really just happened

  1. You did not do your due diligence

    • I suppose not. But it never occurred to me that it was anyone’s bill but mine so I guess I suffer from a lack of imagination.

      xo Linnea

  2. It is getting easier and easier to get scammed. I don’t blame Linnea one bit. I arrogantly take pride in my ability to sniff out BS artists, all the way from people just making excuses for things all the way to outright scammers, but the other day someone “from National Grid” called the shop and said we hadn’t paid our bill in two months and we needed to make a payment of $998.01 immediately because there was an order for a shut off. It was a Saturday and I said “are you all even working today? what if I make the payment Monday?” He said that they are actually working today but there are no offices open so I’d have to make a payment at an “authorized payment center” and the closest one was Dollar General. They didn’t say “wire transfer”, they didn’t say “Western Union”, they just said “make a payment at the authorized location, get the authorization number and call us back”. The whole time they’re saying this I’m thinking this is legit. I’ve made payments before at “authorized centers” before. I’ve been told I have to pay with money order unless I come in during the week and so on… and it was all totally legit. Combine this with the fact that last year we had forgotten to make a couple payments and something similar occurred, and I *had* heard of some people’s utilities being $500 per month this summer because of the heat waves. So combine all of this and it all seemed totally possible. The ONLY thing that tripped it for me was when they asked for my cell number. I don’t know why, it was just the little thing that didn’t make sense. Why do they need my cell number? They have the shop number, the bill is for the shop. I told them that there are many of us here who can make the payment so giving out a cell number doesn’t even make sense. They accepted that statement and told me to just make the payment and let them know and they will stop the work order to turn off service. I hung up and called National Grid and they told me it was a scam.

  3. Girl, switch to Ting. I can even give you a discount code!

  4. I ASSUME every request for money is a scam. I have warned my children not to click on anything that remotely looks suspicious. Only once or twice has a request been legitimate. My 18 year old neighbor’s identity has already been stolen. 18!

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