Imagine opening the mail to find a notice from a collections agency that says you owe nearly $700 for a DirecTV account that you never opened at an address you’ve never even been to. Chances are, the first call you’d make would be to DirecTV. But for one person this actually happened to, that was a dead end.
“It was obvious that my identity had been stolen,” the woman tells David Lazarus of the L.A. Times. “But when I notified DirecTV, they did nothing to help.”
When she called the satellite provider to let them know they had both been taken in by some sort of fraudster, she was told that since a third party subcontractor provided service for that particular building, she needed to contact them.
“That didn’t seem right,” she explains. “I don’t know who this other company is. I don’t want to give them potentially confidential information about myself.”
So she contacted Lazarus instead. He was able to get DirecTV to admit that the customer service rep did indeed push the ID theft victim away, but that this should not have been done.
“The analyst who handled this call should have taken care of things herself,” said the rep, adding that it’s not policy to push people off on subcontractors in this situation.
However, it should also not require a call from a major newspaper to get DirecTV to admit it made a mistake.
While this was all being sorted out, the victim and her husband contacted the three main credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — to have temporary freezes put on their credit.
While it might cost a nominal amount per bureau to start the freeze, it can help prevent further damage to your credit because even someone who has your Social Security number will still need a password to access the credit reports.
In the end, DirecTV informed the debt collector and the credit-reporting agencies that this was a case of ID theft and the victim is not liable for any of the charges she’d been sent to collections for.