A Parkland man was unpleasantly surprised when he took a closer look at the reason his monthly phone bill was higher than usual.
“Bob” discovered that an identify theft program — designed to stop crime — had illegally been added to his phone bill for three months. Total charges for ID Lock Pro Inc. were $59.97.
Neither Bob nor his wife, Sally, had signed up for the service. They had never even heard of the company.
The additional $20 per month at first did not stand out because there had been extra phone calls during the holiday season. As soon as he noticed, however, Bob took action.
Several calls later and Bob was frustrated. Apparently, ID Lock automatically charged the account after Sally did some online shopping. Sally had never suspected that a Web site would have an automatic sign-up for a service hidden in the fine print.
ID Lock said they would refund the money, but Bob did not want them to pay the money to him.
“I want it to go to AT&T, and they could credit my account,” he said. “If ID Locks sends me a check, when I endorse it and it goes back to them, they’ll have all my banking information. I’m not giving that to them.”
What seemed like it should be an easy process turned into several days of calls.
AT&T said Bob had to work the payment/refund issue with Payment One Corp. Getting through to a person instead of a recording at that company, however, seemed to be impossible. He tried three different phone numbers. Each sent him to the automated labyrinth, never finding a live person.
Bob bounced around from ID Lock to Payment One Corp to AT&T in an elusive attempt to find someone to cancel the ID Lock charges and facilitate a refund.
It took three calls to AT&T before they would mark the charges as refused and pass them back to the Payment One Corp, who would then deal with ID Lock.
In the meantime, Bob reported the company to the state attorney general’s office, who said they would look into the problem.
Although the issue eventually was resolved, Bob is still ticked off that the company was able to “slam” his phone bill in the first place. Whether the attorney general determines the practice is illegal, it certainly is a scam in Bob’s opinion.
Unfortunately, Bob and Sally aren’t the first people to report an unwanted membership as a result of Internet surfing. Tedious as it may seem, it is important to look at the small print and any checked boxes on Web sites, especially if you are ordering something or filling out an application. It can save you hours of frustration trying to get rid of an unwanted charge.
The Daily Journal has made a commitment to keep readers abreast of scams that hit our area. If someone tries to make you the victim of a scam, call us at 431-2010 and tell us what happened. We will include your story in our scam alert series to prepare others who may find themselves in the same situation. The Daily Journal will run Scam Alert stories in the paper every Monday.