Thursday, February 19, 2009
One Wedgie-Headlock Comin' Right Up
(image from google)
Take a walk through our county seat on a warm summer day, and you might be treated to the smell of Butterscotch or Cherry Dum-Dums being cooked. But trust me, when I get suckered, I don't feel much like taking the trolley tour of Spangler's Candy Company!
I've had some suspicious looking charges on my phone bill for the past 4 months. I thought it looked a little higher than should be, but it wasn't an extravagant amount, so I let it slide. Finally this morning I sat down to sort out last year's bills, receipts and other junk needed for taxes, and decided to deal with the problem of the extra $13.86 for Emergency Voicemail that's been lounging on my Embarq bill.
Can ya'll see the steam rising over Ohio??!?
Phillip at EBSI didn't act the least bit concerned that a John King (OK, thief! Can't you at least be original?) claimed authority online to charge my phone bill for a 1-800 number. No, Phillip can't tell me who this person is. Yes, he can trace the IP address, but I will have to file a police report and let them contact EBSI to gain access to that address. He will refund my phone bill a total of $51.80. He wasn't interested in chatting with me for long, for some reason.
My phone call to Spencer at Embarq was much more productive, although just as disheartening. I wasn't happy with his answers, but he did say I wouldn't be held responsible for the charges. He was happy to enlighten me on how this happens, though.
It appears that there are 3 companies in particular that are allowed to 3rd-party bill through an Embarq customer's phone bill. They are the above-mentioned EBSI, and two more: UBSI, and IDL. Upon Googling these 3 miscreants, it seems that's exactly what they are - up to no good!
A ne'er-do-well boonswaggler randomly picks a non-suspecting phone number owner and signs up for various phone services online using that person's number. In my case, the twit only needed an Emergency 1-800 number, but I found other victims who had been charged hundreds of dollars for who-knows-what. Had I been hit with exorbitant bills, I would have investigated sooner; fortunately I was only being taken for 14 bucks a month - but by golly, that's a couple gallons of milk and a loaf of bread!
This problem can be avoided by having a 3rd-party block put on the phone account. Except that will mean no one can call our number collect. That could be a problem. Hmmm, Spencer, what can we do to fix this? (Placed on hold...again...) The solution to this was to place a block on each of those three companies individually, keeping the possibility of collect calls open. However, should more companies pop into existence, there's nothing stopping them from stealing from me, until I figure out what they're doing and have a block put on them as well. "Um, with all our technology, you can't fix this problem?"
"Unfortunately, Ma'am, that's the way our program works."
(Ever heard of firing your techs and hiring some real computer whizzes, then?) - No, I didn't say it....grumble...grumble...wish I wasn't trying to obey the Biblical book of James right about now...)
But my biggest question, which Spencer had no decent answer for, was this: When I call Embarq for ANYthing regarding my phone account, I have to verify address, phone number, and security word. They will not discuss my account with me if I don't know what the answer is to my security question. So how in the world could Mr. John King sign up online for ANYthing regarding my phone account???!!!????
Where's the Homeland Security when you actually need it? HA!
Bottom line? Watch your phone bills for weird charges. Better yet, call your phone company and tell them you want blocks on the 3 companies I mentioned. And if, on your way to StuffMart tomorrow to spend your extra $13.00 President Obama just gave you, you just HAPPEN to rear-end a car being driven by a Mr. John King, please remember his address for me - 'cause I'm gonna kick his butt!!!
(Googled Dum Dums Taste Better!)