Verizon Sent My Billing Info To Some Other Guy

When Matt ordered his phone from Verizon, he expected a confirmation email. What he got instead was a phone call from a stranger who got his email by accident. The message contained loads of personal information. Matt, freaked out about the privacy violation, is going to use the free month of service Verizon offered to make up for the lapse to reduce his early termination fee.

He writes:

I just wanted to share this info, figured it’d be relevant for security and cell phones.

I’m a Verizon customer and ordered a phone online (jumping into that smart phone herd), well the rep at the store setup my email incorrectly. The confirmation email goes to some random guy, who calls me and says, “i got this weird email that has your phone number, postage tracking number, address, full name, and last 4 digits of your credit card number.” So obviously, I have no clue what he’s talking about.

I call Verizon, spoke with a rep, she didn’t even know what to say or do so told me to wait for a supervisor call back. Wait…..no response so I call Verizon. I call Verizon again and ask for a sup and tell Zach that this is not my fault, their rep incorrectly entered my email addy and now random dude has it all. I work for Parole, so i’m well aware of fraud/forgery and what it’s like to have your privacy compromised, and how easy it is for someone to use your info, thanks to Verizon. The sup said, “no big deal, they can’t do much with that info anyways.” I told him there was a UPS tracking number, they know exact date/time my phone is coming in. They can call Verizon and easily get around an inexperienced rep to have all my info switched them, minus the bill. So he doesn’t say much, and offers 1mo free service.

I figure who cares, call retention to opt out of my contract. They will make me pay the ETF (despite the fact they messed up and sent all my account info) and all they can offer me for the slip up is 1mo free service. So I say give me the month (so i can save the $60), then opting out on 9/8. I asked them, all talking puppet stuff aside, what’s your policy when you compromise a customer’s billing info? The retention rep (Myesha) honestly said, “we don’t have anything in place so I wouldn’t know”.

So I highly recommend all Verizon customers to speak with Verizon to see what they have in place when they give out your billing information to other people. Otherwise, you’ll end up getting random phone calls letting you know you’re billing info is out there.

It’s alarmingly common to get others’ paper bills in your mailbox, but not as much with e-bills. Has a mix-up like this ever happened to you?

Comments

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  1. TBGBoodler says:

    I got flight information from American Airlines for someone else. I think she entered the email address wrong, but we clearly share the same name. I called her home (both home and cell numbers were in the email) and explained to her husband and he gave me her correct email address so I could forward the email and wash my hands of it.

  2. axhandler1 says:

    A few weeks ago I got an email from the Texas DMV containing their response someone else’s Driver’s License Renewal application. The guy’s last name was one letter off from mine, and it had all his info. SSN, name, address, DL number, etc. I emailed the DMV to let them know I got it, and then deleted it. This stuff just happenes sometimes, human error being what it is. Still though, the guy was lucky I’m not a scammer.

  3. winnabago says:

    I don’t see why this is cause to want to cancel. Is the OP not pleased with the phone? Why not ask them to change your account number or something to remediate the security flaw?

    • junip says:

      I think after this mix-up happening with his account, and seeing that they don’t seem to think it’s important and have no measures in place to handle a compromise of security, that the OP just doesn’t trust Verizon to handle his information responsibly in the future. Can’t say I blame him for wanting to cancel, although I would have pushed more to get the ETF waived.

  4. BadgerPudding says:

    It doesn’t sound like all that much info was compromised.

  5. ChemicalFyre says:

    Look into the early termination clauses in the contract. You did read it, right?

    There’s usually a 14 to 30 day window when service first starts that you can return the device without paying the ETF. Since you haven’t received your phone yet, you haven’t activated it — and thus have not activated service and are not considered under contract yet.

    If the phone CSRs give you any hassle just go into a verizon store and cancel everything before your phone arrives, if that is your intention.

    As for your information being released – well that isn’t good but it sounds like an honest mistake and nothing malicious. At least the guy who got your info notified you. thats a good sign.

    • DarthCoven says:

      The OP seems to be upgrading from a feature phone to a smart phone. He’s likely already under contract with VZW.

      • heyhowareyou says:

        He upgraded to a smartphone, but he has 30 days to return it (he’ll still have to pay for the services he used that month and perhaps a restocking fee) but he’ll get his money back on the cost of the smartphone. The contract should than go back to how it was before his upgrade, which if he was going month-to-month, he could than cancel without an ETF.

        I think.

  6. ttw1 says:

    So he’s got your name, address and phone number. You can get that info on hundreds of millions of people if you want. As far as your tracking number and last four digits of your cc, what’s he gonna do with that? Seems like a gross overreaction for a clerical error. Verizon’s free month offer sounds more than fair.

    • Marshmelly says:

      Agreed. And perhaps I’m too trusting of a person, but if the guy who wrongly received the information called to let him know he received it, he seems honest and I doubt he’s the type of person to try and use that info against him somehow.

  7. It'sRexManningDay! says:

    I just started getting emails from Comcast that were intended for another customer who has a name similar to mine. I contacted Comcast; they say it’s due to a “glitch in the system” and that I should just delete the emails. Day after I alert them, I get another email. Thankfully for this other guy, there’s no important identifying info, just his name and the email confirmation that his equipment has shipped. Comcast didn’t really seem to care all that much about the mixup though. If I received anything with enough identifying information that I could contact this other customer, I’d definitely alert him so he could follow up with Comcast, too.

  8. Karita says:

    Whew. That post was really really hard to follow and understand.

    I haven’t heard of this happening too much. It’s not much comfort for the OP, but at least he knows how it happened. It’s not a widespread security breach. It’s not a company printing SSNs on the outside of the envelope. His accounts weren’t hacked. But typos do occur, so it’s not surprising that it happens once in a while.

    (In fact, although I don’t think I’ve ever blamed the OP before, I can’t see how it was anyone’s fault but his – when you order online, you put in your own email address. I know this because I just set up my own business and personal accounts with Verizon and placed both orders online without ever getting a rep involved. But that’s beside the point… Maybe the OP mis-typed when he said he placed his order online.)

    • scoosdad says:

      Yeah, I didn’t get the part where he said, “I’m a Verizon customer and ordered a phone online…, well the rep at the store setup my email incorrectly.”

      So was this some kind of process where you start the order process online, but have to go into the store to do the final paperwork?

      • Gramin says:

        I’ve been a Verizon customer for a long time and have never started a process online and finished it in the store. I think the OP mistyped his email address and is now blaming the error on someone at the store who transposed the information to another system (which is a process that doesn’t happen). I think the OP is at fault here.

  9. demona667 says:

    I once got an email magazine renewal notice for someone else. I nearly clicked on “Renew Now” as I was a subscriber. Only at the last moment did I see someone else’s name in the notice. A quick call to their CS line cleared it right up.

  10. Andy S. says:

    There is someone out there who has the same first and last name as I do, and who presumably has a Gmail address that is similar to mine. I regularly get emails for this person… hotel reservation confirmations, purchase receipts, even emails from his friends and family. I respond to those that I can informing them that they have the wrong email address, but it doesn’t seem to stem the flow of misdirected mail. I have yet to ascertain the email address that they are trying to reach so that I can let the person know that they are possibly misinforming people of their email address, or that they at least need to be vigilant about confirming that people have the correct address.

    On the flipside, it makes me wonder if this person is receiving any email intended for me, and if they are ever kind enough to correct the sender.

    • JemimaSheep says:

      Yeah, this happens to me all the time too, I think for 3 or 4 different people, judging by the first names.

      It’s annoying,but i guess not a major inconvenience – ijust get so irritated with people who can’t even remember their own email adress!

  11. notovny says:

    An astonishing number of people will give businesses incorrect email addresses, and there’s often no confirmation that the person who gives out the email address is the one who actually owns it, even where monetary transactions occur. Netflix, for instance, will allow a sign-up without confirming the email address.

    Personally, I infrequently get notifications, account signups, correspondence, and financial details intended for a person who, even after five years, intermittently gives out my email address instead of his own, and judging from the misdirected messages from before I started trashing them all, either is a computer programmer, or manages them.

  12. Gramin says:

    This sounds like it’s the OP’s fault. True, the VZ rep mistyped his email address when he originally activated service with VZ. However, has he never been into his account since then? Did he not verify all of his information when he placed the order?

    This is really a non-issue. And I don’t see how this is a breach of privacy/security. Have them change your account information and the issue is fixed. OP overreacted quite a bit here.

    • coren says:

      …they sent the confirmation email when the order was placed. I guess it’s his fault that he is not Wally West, and that his computer does not respond with similar speed, to correct the email’s path.

      • Gramin says:

        He placed the order online, per his post. That means he was able to verify his email address before hitting submit.

      • HannahK says:

        I just got a new Verizon contract last month in the store, and I was given a small paper receipt, not just a confirmation email. The receipt had my email address on it, so I could verify that the Verizon rep typed it correctly (I wrote down the email address for him, so it would have been pretty ridiculous if he messed it up).

        I would assume the OP also had this opportunity and overlooked the mistake himself, so it seems like he is overreacting about a genuine mistake that anyone could make.

  13. Gramin says:

    One more thing Phil… please explain the loads of personal information that was exposed? Did it contain his credit card information? No. Social security number? No. Date of birth? No. Age? No. Weight? No. Mother’s maiden name? No. Eye color? No. Hair color? No.

    They did get his name and address, all information that is publicly available.

    Again, non-issue.

    • coren says:

      Maybe his phone number is unlisted. His last 4 of his credit card certainly aren’t public knowledge. And the UPS tracking number could easily allow me to intercept that package. Plus Verizon basically gave this random person all the info they need to take over the OP’s account (or several accounts)

      • Gramin says:

        Have you ever shipped via UPS? You can’t intercept the package just by knowing the tracking number.

        Second, would you like to know the last four of my credit card: 6111. Good luck using that information for anything malicious.

        OP simply overreacted. If he’s worried about his account, have them change it.

        • coren says:

          If the tracking number says where it’s going (and some do some don’t) it wouldn’t be too hard to go there during the day and grab it. Or call and find out the destination.

    • kjs87 says:

      I have had a capital one rep who accepted my identity based on my phone number, address verification, and knowing the last four digits of my CC because that’s all I had (it was on a receipt). If the phone was linked to his CC account (new phone, but same number) and someone else intercepts it, he might be able to do some harm. Say, call and say he’s lost his card, he doesn’t remember all of the information (he’s in the process of moving, and so everything’s packed away in boxes!), and can they replace the card, and oh by the way, can they send it to the new address? It might not work with a rep who knows what they’re doing, but it might with someone who is inexperienced.

      I’m not saying it’s a likely scenario, just that in my own experience, it’s possible. Capital One also sent me an activated card instead of one you need to call to activate, once. I complained and got a gift card.

  14. Grabraham says:

    phone number, postage tracking number, address, full name, and last 4 digits of your credit card number.

    None of those items alone or together would be categorized as private data under any state or federal reg.other than the tracking number and the 4 digits the rest is in the phone book

  15. coren says:

    I Am pretty sure that since you just got the phone/don’t have it yet you may still be able to opt out of the contract (and send the phone back). You should if you’re willing to pay the ETF

  16. rooben says:

    So…did he order online (following the herd) and enter his own email address wrong, or did he go to the store, and the clerk mistyped it?
    In any case, this doesn’t seem to be a huge deal…what does ANY company have in place if someone enters wrong customer information? Correct it, give the customer a make-happy, and move on…..

  17. Ninjanice says:

    If he was out of contract, or starting new service, the OP may be able to return the equipment and call customer care to have them remove the new contract (or contract extension). Depending on how long he has left, it may save more money to switch to the lowest plan and pay for it for a couple of months rather than get charged an ETF.

  18. Corinthos says:

    On one of my emails I get an email telling me my bill is ready for viewing at ATT Wireless. Its got another guys name and his account number. I called and they couldn’t do anything about it because I had no other information on the account. I even asked could you at least call the guy and have him update his email address and they said no. It doesn’t say the guys phone number or I’d call him and ask him and I tried googling him and couldn’t find any contact info.
    Now it just goes to my spam folder once a month.They site also requires you to log in to stop getting emails from coming.I also get offers that I can’t stop because they require me to log into his account also.

  19. psm321 says:

    I had a web hosting company start sending me customer service replies for a different customer. It took me quite a while to convince the semi-robot CSRs that there was a problem

  20. Griking says:

    b, c, d, e, g, p, t, v, and z all have something in common. They all sound alike. Throw in a person with an accent or for whatever reason just doesn’t speak clearly and I’m surprised that this doesn’t happen much more often than it does.

  21. Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

    I have been getting a monthly billing statement for a Verizon customer for over a year. The info is just obscured enough that I can’t contact the guy, but detailed enough that I know his info. I contacted Verizon and they 1) won;t try to access the real account holders info because it’s not me. 2) told me to contact the account holder (who I do not know) to have them update the contact info or 3) just ignore the email.

    One more reason I stick with ATT. That and I really like dropped calls.

  22. vicarp says:

    Yes. I got someones verizon bill (Sanz full phone number or cc info…Just the “Your bill for $–.– Is due. Please log on to…..). I got it for MONTHS. I called and verizon basically said there was nothing they could do, since i couldn’t give them any information on the account to CHANGE the email address. I just had to wait until the person figured out for themselves that they weren’t getting email.

  23. jeepguy57 says:

    The guy could get far worse sorting through your trash. This is just another example of a customer over-reaction. I am so glad I don’t work in customer service. Steven Slater has the right idea these days.

    • kjs87 says:

      Mm I don’t know. I do work in customer service, and while it has its downsides, I would feel horrible if I was responsible for giving out this information to someone else. We have a policy to be extremely vigilant of the signed receipts and they even get counted to make sure there’s no would-be identity theft by employees, and those only have the last four digits and the names. It’s extremely unlikely, but even that (along with an address, which employees have access to through our rewards program database…food for thought) can be used to get more information.

  24. scotchguard says:

    I work at a company that manages networks for retailers. We are a 3rd party not affiliated with the retailer. No matter how many times we tell Verizon during provisioning that the billing address is different from the service address, we routinely gets calls from the location saying they received our Verizon bill and of course it’s full of account information that they could use to get other information (CC data) about us.

    When’s Verizon gonna learn that just because you pay for service at a location doesn’t mean everyone at the location is to be trusted?

  25. Kitteridge says:

    Same thing happened to me with my Verizon cell phone bill; I was getting two emails telling me about my bill information each month. It took 3 calls and multiple emails for them to seem to “get” what I was trying to convey; once they sent personal information beyond just the sum of the bill, and I pointed out this was pretty bad business practice. It seemed to get fixed then, though it was amazing to me how hard it was to get this issue taken care of.

  26. Yorick says:

    I once got a call from some who had received my unemployment check along with theirs (several years ago, back when they sent checks, folded up and glued; mine got stuck to theirs), they lived a few blocks away, thankfully, so I went over and got it. I was embarrassed enough about being unemployed without that.

    I moved last year and subsequently received alumni letters from a college I never attended (or even heard of) at my new address, they were intended for an alum with a similar name that they’d lost track of. I don’t know how they managed to get my name and new address, but I also don’t understand how catalogs and magazines that I don’t update keep following me either. (An email to their alumni dept. stopped the letters.)

  27. Donavon says:

    This exact thing happened to me, except I was the recipient of someone’s Verizon information. I had to call Verizon to have them wipe my address from their system. The representative I spoke with had a procedure for it so I assume this happens regularly?

    Scary.

  28. scrapps says:

    Apple has given out my information to other customers on more than one occasion. I have received phone calls and emails from other customers. They bring in their Apple product for repair and when their serial number is typed in my name, address, email, and phone number comes up. I have contacted Apple to see why this is happening and not received any response. I’m not sure where to go from here.