Sprint Keeps Sending Mysterious Security-Related Text Messages, But Doesn't Know Why

Chelsea wants to know why she keeps receiving these cryptic text messages from 9099. The messages alternate between telling her new phantom services have been added to her account, and sending her an account PIN and security answer. We thought it was someone trying to gain access to her account, but the PIN and security answer aren’t hers, and the services never show up on her bill.

I’ve had a Sprint account for a little over three months now. The very first SMS I received was from a Sprint number, 9099. It was a notification that my “request to add service features” to my Sprint account was complete. I received two more of the same message that day. I went online to check out my selected features and everything appeared to be in order, so I went about my day.

Two days later, I received another text message from 9099, Sprint’s auto messaging number. This time the message read: “SpringFreeMsg. As requested on 20080712, your Account PIN = xxxxxx. Security Answer = xxxx.” I didn’t recognize the PIN or security answer, figured it was a fluke, and again went about my day.

I’ve since received the security information text message 7 times and the service features message 6 times. My bill continues to be correct each month with no services features added or removed, and the security information that they send me is always the same, and is always not mine.

I finally decided to call them today to figure out what was going on. Not surprisingly, they had very little to say about the situation. The CSR’s best guess was that someone was requesting their security information, and the system was redirecting it to my phone rather than theirs. She suggested that perhaps it was the person who had my phone number before me, which makes little sense to me. To the CSR’s benefit, she was very kind, but explained all this to me as if it was no big deal. I expressed to her my concern that if someone’s information was getting sent to me, my information could be sent to someone else. She said she understood, but offered nothing in the way of comfort or assurance that my information was secure.

She told me that she put a note on my account about our conversation and that if anything suspicious (I assume she meant other than the text messages) happened, to give them a call.

I’m not sure if I should/can move forward with this as I have received no negative repercussions related to the messages.

Chelsea, we’re gonna go with the CSR and say it’s probably some frustrated Sprint customer out there who can’t figure out why his/her security-related text messages aren’t coming through, and that it won’t affect your account at all. What’s troubling about that, though, is the obvious security breach of sending that info to someone else (you). Luckily, in this case you seem to be safe.

Still, you may want to keep pushing Sprint to correctly separate the two accounts, just to be on the safe side in case something big happens to the mystery account and the Sprint system decides to think that it’s yours.

(Photo: Maulleigh)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. gatewaytoheaven says:

    Security concerns aside, I’d just be glad they’re screwing someone else’s account and not mine.

  2. dahlberg123 says:

    I kept getting strange messages two weeks ago or so and then they credited my account $10 for the inconvenience.

  3. ViperBorg says:

    Eh, I’d ditch Sprint if I were you. Unless they are the only provider with decent service out there.

    And if that’s the case; my condolences.

  4. snoop-blog says:

    Sprint is by far the most reasonable mega-corp that I’ve ever had to deal with. If regular customer service couldn’t help, the sprint consumerist hotline has always been very helpful. I’m just surprised that more corporations don’t have a similar hotline. The people at the sprint consumerist hotline actually have a brain and know how to get things done. I’ve never talked to anyone from any other large corporation that I’ve felt the same way about.

  5. kamrom says:

    This has been happening to me too, actually, except I’ve been with spring for years and theyve only been happening as long as they have for OP. Its the exact same language on them too, telling me stuff has been added to my account and the like, when I clearly never did.

  6. kamrom says:

    This same thing has been happening to me, only I’ve been with sprint for several years. I started getting the messages around the same time as OP, with pretty much identical language. I could never really get a straight answer out of the customer service line, unsurprisingly, but wanted to let you know it does happen to others. (This is likely a double post due to weirdness)

  7. BrianDaBrain says:

    Call again; if you get the same answer, move on up the ladder. Speak to a supervisor. It’s probably not a huge deal, like the first CSR said, but it really can’t hurt just to make sure that the accounts are separated correctly. You never know when that might come back and bite you.

  8. Sockatume says:

    You can bet your ass that there’s somebody somewhere who’s not getting their service messages from Sprint, or worse, is getting Chelsea’s.

  9. Canino says:

    From my experiences with Sprint, I can tell you that if your bill is actuall correct every month you should do NOTHING. Do not call them, do not change anything, do not look at your phone crosseyed. Anything you do could upset the delicate balance and you would be in for months or maybe even years of billing hell.

    • fett387 says:

      @Canino: I couldn’t agree with you more.
      I signed up with a special Sprint promotion. The promotion was to last as long as I remained a customer. A year later I called to inquire about something. Next month I discovered the promotion was removed and my bill was an extra $40. They said the CSR that assisted me determined on their own that I shouldn’t have that promotion and removed it. The 2nd CSR I talked to said they couldn’t add the promotion back because the computer wouldn’t let them. They also said I couldn’t cancel service for another year w/o paying the ETF.

      It’s like dealing with the Mafia!
      Lay low and hope they don’t notice you!

  10. kitykat70 says:

    I get multiple emails every month through Verizon about every change & payment that several different accounts make. I tried to get them to stop it but since I don’t know anything but the last 4 digits of the account numbers they can’t fix it for me.

  11. Mr_Human says:

    I would go over to the Sprint Users forum:

    [www.sprintusers.com]

    There’s a very active community over there that includes Sprint CSRs, and someone might be able to help you out.

  12. emis says:

    It might be my fault…

    There is some poor Sprint sucker out there that chose the same username that I normally use for everything else… this person must get false PW reset requests at least 6-7x per year from me forgetting the my Sprint username is different…

    I have the same issue w/ VZW

    I’ve got service w/ VZW for phone… Sprint for high-speed card… AT&T for Blackberry… I need a fourth device so I can get T-Mobile and complete the quad-fecta

  13. kmiles says:

    I’ve had Sprint since 2003 and have had relatively few problems and good experiences resolving those problems. I just switched to their new system so I could get the data plan, and I’ve gotten a few of those texts too. The weird thing about it is that sometimes I’ll call someone and when they pick up they ask me who I am – my calls sometimes show in caller ID as not my number – usually the last 4 digits are different. It’s not all the time though, so it’s hard to call them about it.

  14. snoop-blog says:

    I’ve been a Sprint customer for about 10 years, and at this rate, I’ll probably be one for 10 more years as I’ve never had a problem I couldn’t get promptly resolved. I truely do believe that some people just aren’t familiar with escalating at a corporation, and therefore get bad service experiences, but it wouldn’t matter what corporation they were dealing with. Reading the consumerist regularly will give you an edge when you do need csr help.

    But Sprint is the only phone provider I know of that has a number set up for Consumerist readers. That right there alone adds lots of value to their service.

  15. LintySoul says:

    The employees at the local Sprint store and I have a basic understanding. They are there to fleece me of money, I am there to try to dodge the bullets.
    And on a glorious April day 2009 I may be released of their evil grasp, only to stumble into the palm of some other cell phone company and continue the cycle. Alas.

    • TracyHamandEggs says:

      @LintySoul: I think thats why I deal with Verizon still. I’ve figured out all the problems that can come up, and how to deal with them, so its not worth starting over elsewhere.

      I actually managed to get them to pay me $50 to take a new phone last year between credits from the 1800, website and store.

  16. Roudi says:

    Preface: I’m a former Sprint CSR, current Sprint SME (Subject Matter Expert).

    Sprint recently (as in, last June) built notification of changes into the same system that routes your security information to you if you forget it or change it. The system works like this: you specify whether you want it received as a letter, email, or SMS, and in the case of the latter two, you specify the recipient. For SMS messages, the system doesn’t make you choose a phone number on the account – it makes you type in the number manually. What it sounds like is that someone else’s account has this woman’s cell number set up as the recipient of these notifications. This could have been a mistake on the customer’s end or a CSR, depending on whether it was set up over the phone or online. It could also be that the OP’s phone number used to belong to another customer, whose account still has that number set up for notifications.

    The messages obviously aren’t forwarding any information with them to identify the account they are being sent from, so it’ll be impossible for this woman or anyone else to identify the source of the problem. Hopefully the affected customer wises up and checks on his/her notification method to see why they’re not being received.

    This situation does expose a pretty big flaw in the security notification system, however. Hopefully this gets addressed in our next system update.

  17. austinchu says:

    I get messages that is dated in the future. Freaky. and it’s always unknown. Another thing, when text message don’t get sent, and it doesn’t get received, where the hell does it go? Is is just in space somewhere?

  18. JohnOB1 says:

    I got the same one, saying, “We see you have incurred unusual charges.” And I didn’t. When I called, they had no idea what it was about. Ahhh Sprint… WTF?

    • Roudi says:

      @JohnOB1: I’ve had folks call after having received SMS or email messages like that. Always chocked them up to phishing scams, except they never seemed to actually phish.

      We don’t have a system to alert customers of unusual charges (but we do have a high balance team that is sort of hit or miss on flagging accounts with unusually high bills)

      @brandymb: That’s right, you’ll get dinged for having an SMS sent to you, unless it’s from Sprint (official Sprint messages should not charge customers, though I’ve seen cases where it looked like they did. Again, hit or miss). If you don’t want to be charged for receiving SMS messages, get on a plan for them or call and ask SMS to be blocked (official notifications, like the ones received by the OP, will still get through).

  19. eirrom says:

    This is just further evidence that my decision to go with Sprint was the right one. Sprint can seem to do no right. Someone just by the company and put the Sprint name out of its misery. The damage is done, no way to fix it. It is the “Enron” of the wireless phone market, at least reputation-wise.

  20. brandymb says:

    20 cents a message billed to your account, whether you want the messages or not.. watch the bill.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      @brandymb: The courtesy notifications messages are not billed, so she won’t have to worry about that.

      Having worked for Sprint for awhile, I’ve never seen this before. I would say it is just a glitch in their systems.

  21. 4ster says:

    I have had more problems with Sprint than I can count. Most recently, I was billed for $45 in “overage” text messages, and twice, it took a few phone calls before Sprint understood what the problem was.

    This week, I made some changes to my account. Early the next morning, they sent me confirmations of the changes. I received 14 test messages in less than 4 minutes, all confirming these changes.

    Still, all of this is child’s play compared to other problems I have had with them.

    Honestly, the only reason Sprint didn’t win that “Worst Company in America” contest is because they’ve lost so many customers, there is hardly anyone left to vote for them.

  22. SweetBearCub says:

    All I knw is that I have a SERO account with them, with way more daytime/peak minutes than I need, and everything else unlimited that I only pay $38.33/month for, AFTER taxes. I will probably keep my account until the end of time since it is absolutely dirt cheap! For the record, the service itself (signal, dropped calls, device issues, etc..) has been absolutely stellar, and my experience with their customer service has been “middle of the road”, but not terrible. In my book, this still equates to a keeper.