Way back in 2004, Cameron had DirecTV service. When he moved, he ended his service and turned his equipment back in. At least, he thought he did. It wasn’t until this year that he learned the account had gone zombie back in 2005, charging the debit card of a bank account he didn’t watch closely for two years before going dormant–likely because the debit card expired. The zombie account had been slain, and a collection agency tracked Cameron down earlier this year to make him pay the balance on the account that he had never reactivated in the first place. Never mind that he had paid almost two years’ worth of bills without noticing it or even having a dish at the time.
Samit isn’t a Sprint customer. He doesn’t have a Sprint phone or service. He doesn’t have a customer number. But somehow he owes Sprint $800 for service that he neither signed up for nor received. See, he had tried to become a customer. After starting the process of setting up Sprint service, someone took down his social security and credit card numbers, then wandered off. Samit received an iPhone that he never asked for, sent it back, and somehow has racked up $800 in phantom phone bills.
Earlier this year, we posted a handy tip to avoid zombie billing: for a service that you plan to stop using after your contract is up, use a credit or debit card with an expiration date shortly after the end of the contract. The idea behind this plan is that an expired card can’t be billed. This didn’t work so well for Rob, whose expired credit card was zombie-billed by Microsoft for his Xbox Live subscription.
How can you prevent a zombie billing invasion after your satellite TV contract is up? Simple, explains reader catastrophegirl: give the company a credit card to put on file that expires before your contract is up. If they try to put the zombie charges on the card–well, they can’t.