Collection agency called off
BY STEPHANIE ZIMMERMANN firstname.lastname@example.org September 23, 2012 7:20PM
THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU
Updated: October 25, 2012 6:14AM
Dear Fixer: My 81-year-old mother was called by a collection agency that told her she owed more than $600 for cable service to an address on West 57th Street in Chicago.
She has lived in the same house in unincorporated Glenview since 1961.
She called Comcast, and they told her to bring in a current and 60-month-old utility bill, as well as a driver’s license. She did this, but the collection agency continued to call asking for payment.
I called Comcast and was told that the matter would be escalated and that someone would call back in one hour. No one ever called back.
The collection agency said they have “bought the account” and if my mother is to clear this balance, she needs to fill out and fax a 10-page identity theft form to them. She has already shown her proper ID to Comcast, in person, and she has a Cook County sheriff’s report as well.
My mother has had only basic cable for 25 years. Why Comcast thinks she would have another apartment in Chicago with all available service is absurd! Why didn’t they go after the people they provided service to at that address, instead of making my mother pay? Any help in this matter would put my mother’s mind at ease. She has always paid her bills on time and does not want to owe money or have her credit damaged.
Mike Lynch, Glenview
Dear Mike: The scammers in that apartment on West 57th Street sure pulled a nasty trick on your mom. By the time The Fixer got involved, the bill had ballooned to $1,013.48. And your mom sounded seriously stressed.
After we took her story to Comcast, this got fixed in a hurry. Spokeswoman Angelynne Amores apologized for what happened and made sure the fraudulent account was closed. Comcast also has directed the collection agency to leave your mom alone.
More on identity theft
We’ve told Mike’s mom to look over her credit reports, to make sure nothing funny ends up on there (any consumer can get free reports from the credit bureaus by going to annualcreditreport.com and following the prompts for the free reports).
But there’s a larger issue of identity theft. If you’ve had your personal information swiped by someone who opens a fraudulent account in your name, there are some steps you should take immediately:
Place a fraud alert on your credit file.
Create an Identity Theft Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.gov) and then get a police report.
Monitor your accounts for unusual activity.
Exercise your right to a free copy of your credit report and dispute any fraudulent charges that you find.
All the details for each of these steps can be found on one helpful website: FTC.gov/idtheft. Remember that one. And if this happens to you, be sure to keep everything neatly organized, because it can take some time to correct every item.
Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at suntimes.com/fixer, where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem. Letters are edited for length and clarity.