05-11-2010 3:12 PM
A friend of mine recently received a voice message to call back an 800 number. I tried to help her out and look up the number on the internet. Nothing. Then I called the number to see who picked up. It automatically sends you a text message asking you to respond to a locater service for $9.99 per month. It also gave a website www.smsvw.com. I didn't respond and instead googled that website and related postings. It looks like a nationwide scam where if you are not paying attention you sign up for the service without knowing it. There also seems to be a connection to jail and prison inmates. The inmates are calling people from correctional facilities. I'm sure there is an identity theft element to this as well. The website is simply a front. There is very little information available.
So I called AT&T Customer Service. I guess this would be about expectations. Since this is a nationwide scam I thought many of AT&T's customers might be affected. I expected the customer service rep could tell me if this bogus service had been flagged by them or was on their radar, or not. If their fraud department was looking at the issue. If a warning had been prepared for customers, etc. What the customer service rep did was a joke.
I was advised that Customer Service had no ability to check on the issue but for $4.99 I could purchase a program that would restrict certain numbers from calling my phone. I told him I was looking for AT&T to care about their customers enough to notify the authorities, post a fraud alert, something that indicates an effort to protect all their loyal customers. The customer service rep indicated that AT&T does care and for $4.99 I could protect myself. He said I also had the option of hanging up or not responding if I was contacted by someone that I didn't want calling me. I could also contact a local law enforcement agency and make a report. I told him what had specifically occurred with me did not rise to the level of a crime committed against me. On a national basis there was indications of identity theft, conspiracy, fraud, etc but that would have to be checked out by AT&T itself. At least check to see if other customers have been affected and if this a significant problem.
Well Mr. Customer Service again told me that for $4.99 I could solve my problem. My problem! It's kind of like walking into Macy's and telling their customer service that a theft ring was walking around their store and Macy's customers might have a problem with people stealing their property; but I myself had not been the victim of a theft. Instead of alerting security, taking down the information, checking with employees to see if customers were complaining of missing property, etc. I am instead told that Macy's has a great anti-theft alert system that I can purchase for $4.99! Then the rep says "Is there anything I can do for you today."
Thank you AT&T for caring.
05-11-2010 6:32 PM
The analogy with Macys would be more accurate if the store was full of pickpockets who split their profits with Macys. That is what happens with ATT and third party billing scams. Why stop a scam if you are profiting from it?
05-12-2010 6:03 AM
I'm not sure how this constitutes bad customer service? While you seem to think the rep wasn't that friendly or caring; the fact is that they did their job.
ATTM isn't responsible for numbers that call your, or your friends phone. It doesn't matter that the phone number happens to be a cell phone. ATTM is not in the practice of catching or reporting phone scammers, unless it has to do with ATTM scams (free minutes, or something like that).
05-12-2010 7:24 AM
JR*, this scam company did not contact AT&T; they contacted your friend. Therefore it is up to your friend to call the police or FBI or whoever.
If someone drives a Chevrolet to your house and robs you, you call the police on that person. You do not call the Chevrolet dealership or the builder of the house.
05-12-2010 6:41 PM
These types of calls/messages are common. They are also, somehow, legal. They occur with landlines, too. My parents, who are in their 80s, had several "subscriptions" on their Visa bill from these places. I called and cancelled them once I discovered them, but have no idea how long my dad paid the charges before that. He had Alzheimer's and I finally started sneaking out the Visa bills, with my mother's permission, to check them each month. I called their landline provider and discussed these charges and there is no way to stop them. What they are doing is legal. It is not up to AT&T or any other provider to police these companies or to stop what they are doing. Unfortunately. We all need to read our bills carefully each and every month.
05-13-2010 3:45 PM
other options would be, purchase blocker(which is free, it issues a pin number so before anything is purchased on the phone it will ask for the pin) or usually due to harrasment issues, and i would consider this harrasment, you could change the number free of charge.
05-14-2010 4:37 AM
Bad analogy. Different type of crime. Try this one. You go to a bank because a team of identity thieves have been targeting bank customers and you have information. If the information appears to be good you would expect the bank to at least listen. Check with their fraud department to see if they are currently investigating such a crime ring. Check with their on-site resources to see if other customers at that particular branch, or branches in the area have been targeted. If the number of customers being victimized are a significant enough number you would expect them to contact the local police and give the FBI a heads up. This is a common practice.
If I were the only victim I would expect the bank close the account and take a fraud report. I would expect them to also refer me to the police. If this was on a larger scale I would expect a more significant response.
If they instead offered me their brand new, award winning "account protection" service plan for an extra $10.00 a month but did nothing else I would not be happy. That response would reflect their true feelings about their customers. Like AT&T's response to me did.
05-14-2010 5:28 AM - edited 05-14-2010 5:33 AM
JR*, I still don't agree with your statement. Your analogy is perfect, makes sense. The only issue is that your friend was not being targeted because they were a ATTM customer. If this was internal ATTM fraud (employee targeting you, etc) that would be different. If it was another person trying to break into your friends account, that would be different.
What you described was a 3rd party company called your friend. Your friend was not targeted because they are a ATTM customer, they were targeted because they have a phone. ATTM does not sell information, so there is no way the company got the number from ATTM.
Your friend was a victim of spam, nothing more. Still doesn't constitute for "BAD AT&T CUSTOMER SERVICE".
05-14-2010 1:44 PM
JR, if you had helpful information on some new bank scam or fraud, they would listen to you. But, what happened to your friend is NOT new and there is nothing AT&T can do to stop it except to make the offer they did. Add a purchasing block to your phone line(s). That will prevent you from being charged for anything you did not intentionally order. And it is free!
05-16-2010 8:29 PM
This will be my last reply on this issue. Since I first made that post nine additional AT&T customers (family members, friends, and fellow employees) were hit with the scam. These are people in my little universe. Who knows how many AT&T customers have actually been hit. I know you are an AT&T employee and, like that customer service representative, there is only so much you can say. For you to say differently and go against company policy could be counterproductive to your career. I understand. But you are wrong as a practical matter, as a legal matter, and as a moral issue.
Let me explain this to you. Spammers can hit hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. A spammer can be a guy in a basement or a sophisticated operation with extensive resources. If their target group is made up of AT&T customers then by necessity it should deserve attention from AT&T. Not according to you and AT&T.
In your world, whether it's ten AT&T customers or ten thousand that are affected each customer is fed the same company line. That line is that each individual customer is on their own. If the spam rises to the level of a criminal act they are told to make a police report. If not, they can spend a few dollars to block that particular phone number. In your world thousands of possible victims will be making thousands of individual police reports to potentially hundreds of different law enforcement agencies. Any criminal act committed by the spammers, as an singular matter, would not rise to the level of a misdemeanor. That means there is little likelihood the knowledge of these crimes would get beyond the local jurisdiction of the individual agencies.
There are federal agencies such as the FBI that might be interested, and have the resources on a national level to put all the pieces together. But some entity would have to see a problem, compile information, and report the scam to the FBI. It would be hard for an individual to make such an effort. That is how many of the more sophisticated scams last so long. What entity would have the personnel, resources, and ability to do such a thing for these victims? In this case maybe AT&T?
Unfortunately your position is that AT&T has nothing to do with the matter. Your position is that AT&T has no duty to record or compile such information. No duty to look for a pattern of criminal behavior directed against their customers. After all, technically AT&T is not the victim, the individual customer is the victim. No duty to check any internal database for fraud warnings they can pass on to their customers through an email or regular mailing. That might cost AT&T money wouldn't it.
I can tell you there is an entire industry devoted to the security and protection of customers and clients. In both the private and public sector there are thousands of professionals dedicated to uncovering these scams, compiling and analyzing information, coming up with solutions, applying both criminal and civil statutes to the perpetrators, and prosecuting if appropriate. There are quite a few people sitting in federal and state prison right now who were convicted of fraud relating to these scams. It takes the work of dedicated professionals spending the time and energy connecting the dots.
I guess AT&T is not part of that effort.
Finally, the "bad customer service" has to do with AT&T not caring about their customers as a whole. That company attitude filtered down to the customer service representative. You would think AT&T would at least have some guidelines for their representatives regarding the procedures their customers could follow to protect themselves. Anyone can tell anyone to make a police report. But which agency? Federal or local? Which law was broken? If a law wasn't broken is there information about fraud or scams available on the AT&T website a customer can access?
Well, all you AT&T customers out there, be careful and stay safe. Signing off.
05-17-2010 5:07 AM
"In your world, whether it's ten AT&T customers or ten thousand that are affected each customer is fed the same company line."
The company doesnt tell me what to say, and I'm not paid to give you my opinion on this forum.