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pauljbody said: To try to answer a few questions:

I have never had any Verizon service, nor have I ever (willingly) purchased anything from them.

I do not know how they got my CC info & I don't know what they purchased from Verizon. The charge shows up as a Service VZWRLSS*MW M7228-01 800-922-0204 GA 28010728. This is the phone number I called this A.M. I also do not know how they got my phone number, nor have I spent any time investigating it.

This particular CC is a very rarely used CC (mostly used on 5% CB categories...<$400 every 3 months) & never on the internet and the cards (my wife and I each have one) have never been out of their respective places (wallets). Kids are way too young (7, 5, 2) to consider as suspects. I believe ZenNUTS has it right with his theory.

Thanks for the useful dialog / suggestions. I will try to update as necessary.
Well, this creates two more new questions:

1. What does the parenthetic "willingly" mean?

2. You say you called them. Did you ask them to describe the product/service that they allege you purchased?

12/2/09 – 12/9/09 Nine purchases fraudulently (one was Verizon Wireless for $197.99) charged to Discover.

Someone got a hold of my CC info. My wife and I do not forget purchases...especially $200 ones made on a rarely used CC.

"willingly" means with my approval (i.e. I am required to approve the charge...I/we did not make the charge(s) nor did we approve them) I called too early to speak to someone in the Verizon Fraud dept & haven't had the chance to call back yet. The CSR I spoke to did some double talk (1st it was that I had to handle it through UCB, then it was I'll transfer you to the fraud dept.)

I am done defending myself. I will respond to helpful posts.

When you called Verizon Wireless, did you ask the specifics of the charge? Was the nearly $200 charge for a phone? If is was for service, what phone number was that service on? Who owns that phone number? .....

Just because you are defensive, it does not mean anyone has attacked you. Certainly I have not attacked you.

uutxs said: LorenPechtel said: Just because Discover agreed the charges were fraudulent doesn't mean that Verizon must automatically recognize this. They didn't get their money from Discover, they're coming after you directly rather than acknowledging that they were the victims of fraud.
OP says nine fraudulent charges on Discover card, one from Verizon. I take it to mean OP didn't buy anything from Verizon. SOMEONE ELSE (fraudulently) charged $197.99 for a purchase they made on OP's Discover card. If Verizon didn't their money from Discover, they need to go after the one who made the charge, NOT OP.


I fully agree. It's just Verizon is going after the easy target.

You guys need to back off of OP a little bit... stranger things have happened, and Verizon is well-known for milking every last dime out of every possible collection method.

I once had a $2,000 plus charge (auto repair) appear out of nowhere on a sock-drawered card that had NEVER been used and was only about a month old. This could have been some idiot trying random card numbers, or a mistype on the part of someone, or who knows what.... but Chase got rid of it and closed the card. It helps that the charge came from a location halfway across the country from my place of residence.

I was also once the victim of identity theft where the thief had access to my social, address, birthdate, and other information as part of his/her job. As part of that, the perp opened a new phone line to a warehouse in his local area (Thank you, Google Earth), which, again, was halfway across the country from me. Perp promptly ran up something like $2,000 in charges and opened new credit cards in my name for another several thousand dollars. Verizon more than happily wrote off the debt, but years later, AFNI found me and tried to come after me for the debt. As soon as I told them that the charge was the result of fraud, the matter was dropped, no other questions asked.

That said, I did have two different police reports available to me - one in my local area and one in the perp's local area. The perp was eventually busted, but my net financial loss was close to zero. Lost time, on the other hand, was significant.

I sent an "I dispute, please validate" to both UCB and VZW (since VZW is the one who is on my credit report.) via certified mail yesterday.

I will call VZW tomorrow (during the fraud dept.'s business hours) to try to get more detailed info, and to let them know that they are potentially harming me (a victim of fraud) and my credit by sending the $197.99 to UCB.

I haven't decided yet whether to call UCB again to see if the Discover fax was adequate. From my understanding, it seems that the best thing to do is to wait until they respond in writing to the "I dispute, please validate" letter, and to not contact them via phone.

If there is still interest in this post and the coming events, I will continue to update. If not, I will discontinue updating, as I handle it on my own. (It seems as though there is little interest as the post/topic itself rated -1 and in the poor rating.)

I would like to see the updates. I think a lot of members are interested in these types of situations and I think many tried to help.

I just called VZW’s fraud department and explained the situation to very rude CSR Michelle. My plan was to ask all of the specifics about the charge (as katx suggested), but Michelle told me that I have to handle it through the collection agency (or when there is a negative impact on my credit report, to handle it through one of the credit agencies). I explained that I have a problem with VZW, because they never sent me a bill, rather just sent it to collections, and that I would like to get a little more info about the charge. If it was an internet charge, I could file a report via ic3.gov (as dugggg suggested). She seemed willing to help, but said that she can’t look-up anything without an account number or phone number. I explained that I do not have any of those numbers, read off everything that was on the discover bill and gave her the ref# from UCB (she said that # might be the acct #), but nothing meant anything to her or her system. I even asked if she could review a $197.99 charge made on 12/8/09, but she said she could not do it without a #.

I was hoping to get some of this info to help clear things up, but it looks like I have to just wait until UCB makes the next move. My assumption is that all of the 9 charges were internet charges, because the other 8 were to iTunes (before anyone asks, I do not own one Apple device, and have never purchased anything from Apple (other than stock)) Is it safe to assume the nine charges are internet charges and make a report via ic3.gov?

Don't be discouraged by the (currently) negative rating of your initial post---some people are merely criticizing the subject---and do please provide updates.

There's no rush to file the IC3 report; wait til UCB investigates the specifics of the $197 charge and gets back to you. They still have a chance to concede that it's fraudulent and back off.

A lot of responses are usually from skeptical people who haven't experienced a fraud situation before and think some people are just flamers. So don't expect that all responses will be on the "helpful" side.

Discover says that you will never be held responsible for fraudulent transactions. I guess that guarantee ONLY applies to your specific card account and not with anything "outside" of that account (such as a third party or collection agency).

markjoto said: Something doesn't add up with the story. How would Verizon even get your name to give to the collection agency. OP, are you sure there weren't eight fraudulent charges on your Discover and you thought it would be a good excuse to get out of paying your Verizon bill?

Have you ever looked at your Credit Report?

It shows everything!

That is how you get those pre-approved CC in the mail daily. Or is that just me?

I have learned in the past that when you get a rude CSR or don't get the answer you want, that you should just call back and try someone else. It has been very effective with Comcast and Chase and now with Verizon.

Anyway, I called VZW back and spoke to Sabrina who was much more helpful. She said that she would be able to pull up the account with my SS#, so I reluctantly provided it. We found out that the account had $1088.86 due for 2 phones ordered on the internet and sent to a residence at 75th Court in Elmwood Park IL (I live in Michigan). VZW will investigate and send a letter in the mail within 14 days. I asked her to lookup who's account the phones went to, but she said it is against the law to provide that.?. I explained that it would be easy for VZW to track the fraudsters...but she explained that once the investigation is complete, their legal team will decide whether to pursue. Alternatively, I could file a police report (she had never heard of ic3.gov), if I wanted to pursue.

She recommended calling Experian and placing a "Fraud Alert" on my credit (which I did) since they must have had my SS# to open the VZW account (strange how nothing showed up on the Transunion report other than an "account review inquiry" from VZW).

Now knowing that they were internet charges, I filed a complaint through ic3.gov. I am not quite sure what will come of filing.

Yow, so the $200 verizon charge on your CC was just the tip of the iceberg...

At least now's there's an explanation as to why you didn't get any bills from Verizon---they were being sent to the fraudster in Illinois.

IC3 acts as a central depository for reports of internet crime. Perhaps the same thief did the same thing to someone else, and now with your help, there's sufficient evidence to prosecute. Unlikely, but who knows? To me reporting to IC3 still makes a lot more sense than filing a report at your local police station---and considerably easier than doing so in the thief's own jurisdiction.

It seems that the fraudster has your SSN, CC number, name, and address somehow. I wonder why VZW is sending merchandise to an address that is not registered on the CC account. I guess since the fraudster has all of your personal identifiable information, that must have been enough to allow exceptions (such as for gift deliveries).

Thanks for the updates, and I aplogize for not being 'helpful'. I am interested to see how this turns out.

dugggg - The initial report from IC3 does not look very official (maybe they will send something more police-report-like). It is really just my complaint summarized in their format. The main purpose of filing was to get a report suitable to send to UCB...if required. I am having my doubts that this report will satisfy anyone at UCB.

fedguy - I wonder about VZW also. I can't imagine how they can run a business like they do. They receive an order for 2 phones for $197.99. They send the phones, then receive a dispute notice (I assume Discover notified them that it was fraud) from discover and allow the phone account to stay active and rack up another $890.87 in charges over a 6 month period. Then they send it to collections, but only for the initial $197.99...I assume that I'll be hearing about the rest from UCB soon. They received my mail 2 days ago.

VZW is probably not updating the account profile and processing each transaction individually. So the first one (to establish the phone service was charged to Discover) was eventually referred to the collection agency. Then additional transactions to buy phones and monthly service fees racked up an additional $890.87 to the account (these appear not to have been charged to the Discover card and just left accumulating in the account under your name and the "pseudo address"). If I think I am a good guesser, the next step is that the VZW bill sits around and then becomes defaulted. Then you get another collection agency referral for the subsequent amount. This won't stop until VZW freezes the account. Of course, the fraudster is going to milk it as much as he can. With a checking account or credit card that has been compromised, you can close out the account to stop the fraud. In the case of someone using your identity (name, address, SSN, phone number, Date of birth, etc.), you can't terminate it like voiding your SSN or Driver's License or assuming a new identity. This could get ugly.

If you haven't done so already, activate a credit freeze at all three credit report agencies.

This should prevent anyone else from establishing new credit using your stolen SSN.

I find it very strange that someone gained access to my credit information over 6 months ago, but never tried to open another CC or use another existing CC (I have 8 other CCs). Rather, they used my existing Discover to do their dirty work. Once I found out that the phones were sent to Elmwood Park IL, I have been thinking that maybe the fraudster obtained my information from inside Discover’s offices in Carol Stream Il and used it exclusively (maybe the fraudster was not inclined enough to go further with the identity theft). In mapping the distance, they are only 28 miles apart. Could there be any substance to this theory?

yep makes sense

Both cellphone company employees and bank employees are notorious for stealing identities, esp when they hire young ghetto kids

pauljbody said: I find it very strange that someone gained access to my credit information over 6 months ago, but never tried to open another CC or use another existing CC (I have 8 other CCs). Rather, they used my existing Discover to do their dirty work. Once I found out that the phones were sent to Elmwood Park IL, I have been thinking that maybe the fraudster obtained my information from inside Discover’s offices in Carol Stream Il and used it exclusively (maybe the fraudster was not inclined enough to go further with the identity theft). In mapping the distance, they are only 28 miles apart. Could there be any substance to this theory?

I'm thinking it's not organized identity theft ring, just someone who wanted cell service without paying. They stole your info to get the service but didn't go any farther than that. They have probably stolen other people's identities for individual things also. The individual acts are probably small enough the police don't actually do anything about it, it might have been going on for a long time.

UPDATE:

Ok, it has been a couple of weeks since type any activity. I have been expecting:

1. A written response from UCB to my “"I dispute, please validate" letter. The contents of the letter explained (among other things) that I am requiring documentation showing.
• What the money you say I owe is for;
• Explain and show me how you calculated what you say I owe;
• Provide me with copies of any papers that show I agreed to pay what you say I owe;
• Provide a verification or copy of any judgment if applicable;
• Identify the original creditor;
• Prove the Statute of Limitations has not expired on this account
• Show me that you are licensed to collect in my state
• Provide me with your license numbers and Registered Agent


2. A written report from Verizon with the results of their fraud investigation. They told me that it would be within 14 days of when I called (6/22). On 7/7, I called and they clarified that is was (14) business days, and that no one had been assigned to the case yet.

I have now received a letter from UCB. Below is their response, along with about 30 pages of unpaid phone bills (Dec-March).

07-01-10 1-800-867-3104

My Name MyCase #
My Address

RE: SEE ATTACHMENTS
BALANCE: $1328.40

To Whom It May Concern,
Please review the enclosed information that you requested pertaining to this account(s) currently placed with our agency for collection.

If you should have any questions regarding this matter, feel free to direct your inquiries to our office at the telephone number above.

This is an attempt to collect a debt by UCB, INC., a debt collector, and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.

Very truly yours,
United Collections Bureau, Inc.


I contend that UCB has not provided everything that I am requiring. The main missing piece of documentation is something “showing I agreed to pay what you say I owe”.

My plan is to not respond to UCB, but to wait until VZW is finished with their investigation, and find out if they will call off UCB if and when they determine it is fraud. If they will not, I will have to consider other options.

I have thought briefly also about going after the fraudster, but the hassle-factor is probably not worth it. The unpaid phone bills have given me a lot of new information.
1. I have exact address and phone numbers on the account.
2. I can see 2 Blackberry’s were purchased (one on 12/10 & one on 12/16).
3. The service plans for the phones were cancelled on 1/23/10 (Probably never used and sold?).

I just spoke to the VZW fraud department again to find out where the letter is (got Sabrina again). She said they are running behind, and that it would be an additional 14 business days. I asked to speak to a manager, she forwarded me, and I got her voice mail. I left a message requesting a call back. Nice company.

Just got a call back from the investigator assigned to the case. She said that she has determined that it was fraud, the credit agencies have been notified, a not responsible letter will be sent and UCB will be notified. Wow...something that they couldn't get to in 16 business days was cleared up in less than an hour after leaving a message with a manager. I guess I am done with the exception of monitoring my credit reports.



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