Cramming my phone bill

UPDATE (31 May 2012) – I got a card in the mail last week letting me know that there’s a class action suit against Verizon for these cramming practices. I’ll have to go and research if they’ve actually stopped third parties from doing this by default for new customers.

I will admit it. Until now, I wasn’t the kind of person who actually looked closely at the phone bill. Scan it, sure. Make sure that the cost is in the ballpark? Right. But we don’t use the landline much at all, so it’s not very exciting reading.

This month, though, it just didn’t seem…right. Just a little too high. There was a charge on the bill from YCP Network Fax. Never heard of this company. Not sure what it was, but I’m quite sure I didn’t need to be paying someone $15 to use the fax machine that I already had on this second house line.

A call to Verizon confirmed that a monthly service charge had been added to the bill by this third-party company. There’s no way I added this service, intentionally at least. The Verizon rep insisted that there had to be verification before anything could be added to our account, and they would send us the information that *I* verified. They also agreed to remove the charges from our account (this was actually the second month).

Yesterday, I got the paperwork telling me that I “confirmed” this service. Apparently the services was added at a site called employ-e.net. This is a site that apparently has lots of job listings on it. Now, I’m certainly not looking for a job, so I am sure I wouldn’t have used or registered at this site. And upon visiting it, I realize that I’ve never seen it before. But then it gets weirder.

The registration information on the paperwork is just slightly wrong. There’s a typo in my address…I wouldn’t have a typo in my address, as whenever I fill out a form on the web, my address auto-fills. But ok, maybe there was a typo. In the mother’s maiden name field, there’s a name I’ve never heard of, much less been related to. And the phone number, remember, is our FAX line…why would I fill out a form with my fax number as contact?

But then it gets even stranger. I use Chrome as my web browser. They said I signed up on July 1, 2010. I went back to my browser history for that day, and the week before it and a few days after it. Nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean that none of the pages I visited even had a form of any sort that I could have filled out. I did buy a couple of things on Amazon with my Prime one-click account a few days before that date, but Amazon has a different email address and phone number than were on this paperwork.

And then you realize, I’ve been slimed. The paperwork says that I would have had to do X, Y, and Z to sign up, and then I would have gotten an email confirmation from these bozos welcoming me to their service. Well guess what, bozos? I don’t ever throw away an email. Even spam gets archived, suckers. There was NOTHING from them. Nothing nothing nothing.

So, somehow, my phone got crammed. Now here’s the real question. Why does Verizon allow anyone with my address and phone number to add a pay service to my phone bill? They have a maiden name, and it’s THE WRONG ONE, they have my address, a phone number, and an email address. There’s nothing here they couldn’t get from a domain registration record, customer loyalty card, hell, everyone has your name, address, phone number, and email address. And that’s ALL THEY NEED to add some pay service to my phone bill?

Verizon, why do you allow this? Why don’t you require verification from your customers when someone wants to use you for a moneymaking scam? Why do you make me spend FIVE MINUTES verifying my identity when I call you just to ask a simple question, make me spend HOURS on the phone doing third party verification when I’ve already had to give you my Social Security number and my firstborn, but you let some known scammer add his service to my phone bill without so much as a hello?

Imma ask this question of you, Verizon, and I’d like an answer.