DirecTV Tells ID Theft Victim To Take Her Complaint Elsewhere

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.

Firms caught up in identity theft offer little help to victims [L.A. Times]

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  1. r0ck says:

    Wish they would tell us what happened to that “analyst”…

    • Lucky225 says:

      By analyst they mean Work – at – Home Convergys Independent contractor. I used to answer DirecTV calls that come into 800-DirecTV, from home. Trust me these work at home agents don’t know what they’re doing, if it doesn’t fit the script they were taught. When dealing w/ DirecTV ask for the operator’s employee number, if he/she says “1 0 —” hang up and call back, all work@home agents start with 10xxxxxxxxx

      • theholyfx says:

        Not true, as a former work at home agent for direct tv, my number started with a 6. Direct has at least 3 outsourcers that I know of and each have different ids

      • tsumeone says:

        I don’t think that’s a fair assumption to make. I know many people who do work from home call center work, including one Convergys employee, and they are all very knowledgeable about their job. Someone working from home is not automatically worse at their job than someone in a physical center, which your post implies.

  2. AllanG54 says:

    That’s what happens when you hire lazy people for a low wage. I think in every customer service center there should be a sign saying…”take some initiative!!” It would probably be ignored though.

    • pop top says:

      Fucking lazy plebeians! Working in a call center. Fucking disgraceful. Why don’t they take out thousands of dollars in student loans to get a degree that won’t guarantee them a job when they graduate? Why should people work a job that’s beneath them? They may as well be on welfare.

      • nicless says:

        I don’t think that is what Allan is saying. I think Allan is saying that maybe if the call center rep was given more authority to change things or given ANY reason to care, they would have done a better job.

    • sponica says:

      my friend worked in a call center…she had very high customer service ratings because she didn’t force you off the phone in less than 30 seconds. but she had very low performance ratings because she didn’t handle a high enough volume of calls.

      I think that taking initiative in a call center is a guarantee you’ll get the worst shifts because you’re an underperformer (volume wise) even though you’re an over performer on CSR ratings

      • Delphinia says:

        I had the opposite problem. I was too fast, so even though I routinely outsold the other agents, I also took way more calls than they did because they were spending 20-30 minutes on a call, so my sales per call were too low (since many of the calls I took were people asking to be transferred to another department, people who lived outside our service area, etc.). My supervisor begged me to dawdle as long as possible on the calls where I was making a sale, but I couldn’t see purposely taking much longer than was necessary when there were dozens of calls piling up in the queue.

    • [redacted] says:

      “Lazy people for a low wage.”

      Right…because it would never be due to demands placed on the employee by the company to take a obcene amount of calls and turn them over in even less time than it takes to sneeze. I’m not saying this person was in this type of situation, but of the 3 CSR jobs I held in the past, even as a supervisor, management placed so many restrictions and rules on you that it was near impossible to truely help a customer in need past updating an address or some standard issue. Of course, you could always disobey management and take extra time in your calls to ensure completion but don’t expect a positive review.

    • little stripes says:

      You’ve never worked in a call center nor have you known anyone who has worked in a call center, have you? The problem with “taking the initiative” at a call center is that can often be a fireable offense.

      Work in a call center for a year, then come back to me and call those who work in call centers “lazy”.

    • Nebular says:

      “lazy people for a low wage”… right.

      If companies and callers would treat call centre staff like living, breathing human beings instead of disposable commodities that get paid next to nothing while being treated like shit everywhere they turn, customer service would improve by leaps and bounds. Where’s the incentive for someone to pretend to care if they’re treated poorly, work for next to nothing, get no benefits, have zero job security, and are routinely berated by belligerent customers who think they’re the most important person in the world? You can only be nice and help for the first few weeks. After that, the constant bullshit erodes your soul and you just stop caring. Call centres and customers need to change for it to get better.

  3. dolemite says:

    Why does it cost a nominal amount to put a freeze on? I put one on a few months ago for free. The only hitch is you have to renew it every few months, unless you can prove you were a victim of ID theft. Honestly, the whole paying money to see your credit report and to monitor it or put freezes on needs to go away.

    • jsweitz says:

      Credit freeze fees vary by state. Its free in many if not most states if you are a victim of identity theft – though that requires providing a police report.

    • Anakela says:

      I was just about to say this/ask this.

      I had my identity stolen a good 8 years or so ago. Went to the local police station when it happened, and filled out a police report, then used that report to freeze all my credit reports. All these years later I have never been charged to freeze/unfreeze my credit report. I unfreeze maybe once every year or two- apply for credit card, potential landlord running credit check, etc.- and I’ve never been charged for any of this by any of the bureaus.

    • bikeoid says:

      > The only hitch is you have to renew it every few months,

      A credit freeze stays in place forever until you thaw it, so it’s well worth the money you pay to freeze it.

      A relatively ineffective “fraud alert” on the other hand, does automatically expire and you have to renew it.

  4. bluline says:

    I understand why the OP might call DirecTV, but it wasn’t DirecTV that stole her identity, so how could they (or their subcontractor) be blamed? And how could they be sure that the woman calling was telling the truth? About the only thing DirecTV could do in this case is cancel the service ordered by the identity thief, but I think they would only do so after verifying that an identity theft had actually occurred.

    • pop top says:

      Why didn’t they give her clear directions on how to proceed though? They could’ve said, “We need a police report and a statement from you saying that you didn’t order this service” or whatever. They just tried to push her off on someone else.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      Because they were asking her for money, well demanding it really, for service that she did not order/accept/request/sign a contract for.

      I mean really. Should she call the police/fbi or whoever the hell handles ID theft? yeah. Should she contact the business demanding the money owed by the thief? yeah, if only to stop the charges and collection notices.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      Yes. Why should the entity claiming that it is owed money care whether or not fraud was involved? Why should an entity ready to trash someone’s credit rating and do them real economic damage care?

      The responses here are sometimes quite amazing.

    • Lucky225 says:

      I have to agree and the other portion of her story “”I don’t know who this other company is. I don’t want to give them potentially confidential information about myself.”” — You don’t know who DirecTV is either as you never had service with them, yet you’re concerned about giving your information to someone WHO ALREADY HAS IT so they can verify what’s going on? *rolls eyes @ these people*. This is like when people call me about their account, we ask for their PIN to verify they’re the account holder then they say ‘well I don’t give out my PIN over the phone, that’s my personal PIN’ — yes, it’s PERSONAL, so only YOU would know it, thus we ask for it to verify we’re talking to YOU and not someone else who DOES NOT know it *sigh*

  5. kathygnome says:

    There needs to be a one stop shopping place to call when there’s been identity theft to verify that you have filed a police report and then require creditors to clear your information.

  6. Krazycalvin says:

    Actually you are crying to the wrong people when you call the company about an identity theft claim.

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/

    • dougp26364 says:

      The FTC isn’t going to call off the collection dogs or remove the bad debt information from your credit report. You still need to contact the outfit attempting to collect money from you.

  7. dwtomek says:

    What is up with these companies deciding that they are not liable for work they contract out? If their contractors are not behaving adherent to policy, that is between the company and contractor. It is not between the customer and contractor.

  8. teke367 says:

    Never had a problem of that magnitude, but every one of my problems with DirectTV had to do with them using subcontractors. They used to offer free “re-installation” if you moved, but when we did, they wanted $300 because they needed to use a subcontractor to install the equilpment.

    I imagine its very much their policy to push people onto subs.

  9. David Doe says:

    I don’t know the laws involved but from past experience there must be something making companies just write off massive losses instead of pursuing legal action against Identity thieves. About 18 months ago my wife had one of her credit card numbers stolen they ordered a lot of electronics and had them delivered to their house. A year and a half later nothing has happened to these people, they did not even get the stuff they got confiscated.

  10. bblawson says:

    Something similar happened to me. My mother (yeah, let’s not discuss that) used MY SSN to get an account with Direct TV in my name. Let’s leave out the fact that I never authorized the account, I never signed anything, I lived in a different country at the time. Right. DirectTV had no problem setting up the account at her address. When I discovered the problem, I contacted them and was basically told they could do nothing. Absolutely nothing. They wouldn’t even close the account. Since my mother and I are not on speaking terms (and haven’t been for many years), for all I know this account could still be active. I’m just waiting for her to not pay her bill and then it shows up on my credit report.

  11. dougp26364 says:

    I had this happen with Capital One. Someone took a guarenteed issue application, put in all the wrong info and the idiots issued a card with a very low credit limit. It was discovered when I applied for a car loan as a bad debt write off. Cap. One tried to tell me it was my fault and I’d have to pay the balance plus interest. I informed them I thought I’d get an attorney and see what sort of damage I could do for a falsely damaged credit report. That solved the problem PDQ.

  12. mcgyver210 says:

    DirecTV doesn’t care about service when you really aren’t a customer. I was in so many words told that when they decided to charge me for service I didn’t have that coincidentally used up a final credit I had. I was told nothing could be done since I was no longer a customer.

    So what is being said here I can truly believe they would do.

  13. rpm773 says:

    I’m not sure what information is required to open a DirecTv account in someone’s name, but in my experience it doesn’t take much. Someone did it to me in 2007, running up a $1600 balance in my name. I had had no prior dealings with DirecTv or any subcontractors.

    I never got any information from DirecTv, nor from a collections agency. The only way I learned about it was when I tried to open an account with them a year after the incident, which was around the time I was closing on my house.

    I had to file a fraud report with them, file a police report, and a get copy of the police report notarized all because of their stupid account policies. Needless to say, after that experience I decided to go elsewhere for TV service.

    Any firm so desperate for business that it won’t take steps to prevent being defrauded doesn’t need mine.