Friday, July 31, 2009

Scam city

Thought I'd take a quick break from the seizure topics to pass on a warning...

You know those forwarded emails that would typically be deleted upon arrival to your inbox?

The "It happened to me" and "Don't let it happen to you" scam warnings?

Passed around by so many people, who knows if any are true?

Well, I just got off from an extended call with my phone company.

Seems we've been victims of a scam.

LOL...It really did happen to me!!

$299.98 worth of collect calls charged to my phone number.


This is how it happened...

Three weeks ago today, Chad answered a call from a Houston pay phone. It was a collect call from the Harris County Jail. Curious whether one of our friends or relatives maybe went wild and landed themselves in the slammer, he accepted. The guy on the other end asked him if he knew a Joe Blow (not the actual name he used, but my memory is failing). Point is, he said "no". The guy then told him he would be charged $10 for that phone call unless he called this number and extension and told the phone company he didn't know this Joe Blow guy.


He called. And called. And called. Obviously wanting to avoid a $10 charge. He got nothing. Like it wasn't a working number. Anyway, he wrote the ten bucks off and we forgot about it.

That night, as we were watching a movie, our phone did a funny chirpy ring. Then silence.

About 30 minutes later, it did it again. And so on. Til about 11 pm.

Note: We rarely use our land line. We have lovely dial up internet access, so it usually out of commission anyway.

Back to the story. This went on for about a week. The phone would chirp ever so often. Then, I realized that no one had been calling. I tried dialing my home phone number from my cell. It rang on my cell phone end and clicked. As if someone picked up, but there was nothing. But on my land line end, it was dial tone.

Call me crazy, but I let this go on for three weeks. Thinking it was my phone and not my line. I had even put a new phone on my shopping list. It didn't occur to me that it could be my phone line. Internet worked. I could call out on the phone. And, anyone really needing to reach me has my cell number anyway.

So, last night Chad opens our phone bill. Words cannot describe his reaction and I prefer not to repeat what he said! LOL

There was an entire page worth of collect phone calls from Houston. Thirty-seven to be exact. $299.98 worth of charges.

It slowly started to make sense. The last number that registered on our caller ID was the pay phone number. On 7/10. The night our phone started chirping was 7/10. The charges started on 7/10.

Turns out, when Chad dialed that number to rid the $10 charge, he actually had our calls forwarded to another number. Unlimited access to rack 'em up. Courtesy of us!

All we had to do to remove the forward was dial 73#. But, we were completely clueless as to what was going on.

It seems so obviously deceptive now. We feel pretty ignorant that we were none the wiser.

But, hindsight is 20/20.

By the way, those charges only went thru 7/16. We probably have another hefty bill coming next month. We aren't obligated to pay our phone company, but there was a third party company (the one used for the collect calls) involved.

I did some poking around online. The company associated (the one we owe for the charges) is Correctional Billing Services. It's for inmates to set up accounts to place collect calls to their friends and family. Evidently, fraud is a common problem as there's a Dispute Center link on their website, and fraudulent calls are the first topic listed.

I have to fill out an investigation report, file a police report... complete and total insanity.

It may take up to 30 days for the investigation to be complete...and to release us of financial obligation.

So, guys, heed my warning.



baby trevor's mommy said...

Good grief!!!!!

Please tell me you're gonna fight the charges? Or do I need to come to Houston myself?!

You know the thing is...when you're an honest person you just can't even dream up some of this crap that people can pull on other people. Just reminds me we live in a broken world...


JSmith5780 said...

what a pain!

Just another reason I am glad we don't have a land-line anymore!