My phone line's been stolen
Ever wish you were a dishonest person? Well, I’ve just had my phone line slammed by a major telecoms company, leaving me free to wreak havoc on my neighbor’s phone bill and potentially commit all manner of other fraud.
It’s bizarre. I conducted my business as usual this morning, left my home office for a few hours, and arrived back in the early evening on an entirely different phone number, with no broadband connectivity, and with a shiny new BT router on my doormat. It was addressed to my numerical neighbor, but bore my house number.
A BT customer services operator told me the mistake happened in the original order, which my neighbor made online. Fine, but the neighbor contacted the firm last week to correct the mistake when a couple of letters arrived here rather than his house, so why didn’t the message get through?
The operator also told me I need to contact my provider to correct the mistake - rather than BT making good, which is what I’d expect to happen -, and said the firm has no mechanism for awarding compensation for my lost time and business given the number I use for work is out of service. For a payout I need to speak to UK regulator Ofcom.
It’s worth nothing here that the BT operator was entirely professional and helpful, and even managed a laugh at the end of a grueling 40-minute call, so none of this is directed at her.
Instead, it’s directed at Ofcom and BT, because this incident raises some pretty glaring questions regarding how slamming can happen in 2013, whatever happened to business analytics, and the security and cost implications of me having someone else’s phone?
Who pays if I call family in Australia, or premium rate services? What can stop me impersonating my neighbor in calls to BT – after all, I already have physical proof of identity and know my own postcode, and have already discovered he’s a residential customer rather than a business customer in my call to the firm.
What if I combine all this information along with details I know from socializing with my neighbor, like his date of birth or wife’s maiden name, to commit some larger fraud? Ok, that’s probably going a bit far, but you get the picture.
BT, Ofcom, over to you…