Who Paid My Bill? and Why? and with a Bad Check?!
I am, for the most part, posting this for two reasons:
1. To find out something like this has happened to anyone else, and what the outcome was.
2. If there is anyone within this community can help get me the details many have not.
I will try to be as clear and concise as possible, by including the details of the situation, with the hopes of not ending up with a novel.
This past April, I decided to change the primary method of payment on my account. I have been an ATT/Cingular/ATT customer since day one (over 15 years), with my 1st phone the classic Nokia brick with classic snake. But I already digress...
I have paid nearly every bill due since then with a credit/debit card or checking account withdraw, via online or mobile app. I don't believe I have paid with a physical check or online check or any type of payment that would be considered "paid by check" in the last 10 years, if at all. Ever.
About a week after changing my primary billing info, I receive notification from AT&T via email and text that my bill has been paid in full.
"Hmmm, I'm not positive I set that up, but actually, yeah, maybe I did when I changed my cc on file. Yes, if my bill was due, why wouldn't I?" I thought to myself as I received the notifications (same notifications I get every time my account is settled every month).
But what had me second guessing was strange: a few minutes later I receive multiple successive emails stating that I had "attempted to unlock my wireless device unsuccessfully too many times" and "your device cannot be unlocked remotely at this time, please contact ATT for further assistance." Ok, strange. NOTE: This all happened about 3 or 4 days after the Heartbleed virus story broke. Coincidence? Paranoia? Or was I a victim? One thing I have taken away from all this: Maybe, could be, who knows? At least that’s basically the response I feel I have been getting.
Later that day I get on Support Chat and the agent explains its most likely a phishing scam and to not respond, change my password, etc. Also, when logging into my account to see if the bill paid notices were legit (which appeared so as my account now showed a zero balance) it showed my home location as San Jose, CA. Not from San Jose, never been there. A few hours later, back to San Diego, where I actually live.
A week after that I get a notice in the mail my account is past due and my service is about to be suspended! Huh? So I do some more investigating (my bank accounts, ATT account, etc) and I find the payment a week ago was paid with a check which had been returned due to insufficient funds. Wait, what? Now I know I wasn't absolutely certain that I actually set up and authorized that payment, but I am POSITIVE I didn't provide a check.
.So I got on Web Chat support again. I was very stressed as I didn't have the means to pay an extra $200 bill I thought was taken care of, and was worried my phone would be shut off in the meantime. The agent was very nice, helped me postpone the payment to avoid service interruption, and opened a case for a billing investigator to look into. I decided to send letters to ATT Mobility Headquarters in Atlanta and Corporate Headquarters in Dallas with a detailed explanation, supporting documents such as bills, saved ATT support correspondence, reference numbers, etc, with a formal request for an explanation, in writing, of where this payment came from, if it could be fraud related, just anything to shed a little light on this.
Well, to make an already long story a tiny bit longer, I begin to get responses from the various ATT departments, entities, email bots, and whoever else I casted out the wide net to. But the response was the same. We just don't really know. Nobody can tell me how this payment originated. Who is the account holder? What financial institution is it connected with? Is there a canceled physical check? If it was electronic, how is that information verified and maintained, is it maintained, etc? How did this payment reach my account? How was the exact amount due known and provided? And if my account information had been compromised, what do they stand to gain from paying my bill? (even though ultimately the funds were not real) I must say the communication with everyone at ATT, whether over the phone, online, via voicemails left for me, etc., acted professionally and courteously. But they all had the same essential answer: We can't help you.