IS GOING TO REIN IN AT&T?
On June 6, 2006, I telephoned AT&T from my cell phone as I was passing through El Paso on the way to my new home in West Texas. I had already phoned the local cable TV company in my new home town and set up service. The nice young man for Cox Cable wanted my SSN (social security number). I informed him that he could not ask me for this number as it is not to be used for purposes of identification except for certain agencies as specifically enumerated in the Privacy Act of 1974. I agreed to pay the $80.00 deposit required for not giving that number which will be returned to me at a later date as long as I pay my bill. I also called the TXU who provides electrical and gas service. The young man on the phone didn't even flinch when I declined to give the SSN. He simply told me I would have to pay a $135.00 deposit for not giving that number which would be returned in a few months if I paid my monthly bill on time. Upon arriving in my new town, I mailed off that check right away and went down to Cox Cable and paid the $80.00 deposit. The woman for AT&T, however, insisted that I must provide this insidious SS number to obtain phone service and so began a nightmare that would not be resolved until last week!
During my initial call driving through a particularly lovely part of Texas, I explained to this robot at AT&T that I am ALREADY an AT&T customer. That's right. I STILL have service at my other house in Sacramento, California and have with for almost eight years. In those eight years, we have never missed a payment and every single payment has been on time. As a matter of fact, I just paid the current Sacramento bill on June 23rd. I suggested to this AT&T drone that she simply pick up the phone (after all, I am on the phone with the phone company!), call their Western regional office and verify our perfect record with AT&T. Nope. I was informed that the AT&T service I was requesting was only for Texas, Oklahoma and a couple surrounding states. They could not call their own AT&T credit bureau for the Western region to verify I am a current customer with a perfect credit record with them! Give up the SSN so we can snoop into your personal, private information or you will not get phone service.
My next step was to ask for a stupidvisor. I was told someone would call me back. Late the next day and getting tired of waiting, I attempted to call back to locate this phantom stupidvisor and spent one hour and seventeen minutes being cut off by the phone company (dial tone!) or referred to one recorded message after another and then cut off. When this new robot got on the phone, I explained the facts:
1. My husband is a retired U.S. Army Colonel. As she must be aware, some fool who worked for the Department of Veteran's Affairs took home disks which were promptly stolen from his home in Virginia. (How convenient his house gets broken into the very night he brings home this explosive and very sellable data on the black market.) My husband is one of the 22.4 MILLION affected vets whose name, SSN and medical history is on those disks which had been stolen . Mine is also included in those records. The first thing I did upon hearing about this sickening incident was to send a company I detest, Equifax credit reporting "service," $20.00 to freeze our individual credit reports.
I also explained to this droid that the information on Equifax wasn't even accurate. We just purchased a second home less than 60 days ago. XXX Savings Bank did a credit check with Equifax. Of course, the information on Equifax's credit report on John and I contained bogus information; among other inaccurate data, they indicated we had an active credit card with a balance, which we do not. That VISA card was paid and closed in full almost two years ago, yet it still showed up on our credit report. I despise Equifax and TRW. These so-called credit reporting agencies - for which I never gave my permission to collect personal data on me - routinely provide bogus, outdated or completely wrong information and they take months to clear it up - if at all. My point to this AT&T droid: You demand I hand over my personal financial history complied by an agency that is providing inaccurate, bogus information. Got that? The information you will be relying on to rate my credit isn't even accurate. Didn't phase this droid a bit.
2. I explained to her that we were under double jeopardy. I shipped several boxes FED EX which contained our personal records, tax returns, etc., because I didn't want them on the United Van Lines semi hauling our household belongings. I felt if I shipped them FED EX, they would get here in one piece and our records protected as much as possible. Guess what? The box with all of our bank statements, tax returns and loan information on our Sacramento home arrived re-taped because it had been opened and resealed. I immediately called FED EX and they made a permanent record; I'm supposed to feel good about that. More risk, thank God the freeze was already on our credit reports. Lady Droid was....sympathetic.
3. My husband and I are already AT&T long time customers. All we are attempting to do is get new service at this other home. Response: We can't check out own company's credit bureau, we want to snoop into your personal information via Equifax.
4. I restated that it was absurd for AT&T to continue to insist that they needed my SSN to identify me! Yes, that's right! This stupidvisor continued to stay stuck on stupid by insisting the only way to ensure I wasn't someone using a fake SSN was to give her just that number over the phone and she would then know it was me! I kid you not.
In the meantime, I had arrived in Big Spring, Texas, and had to personally go down to the local office to establish water and garbage service. I was handed a form to fill out which asked for my SSN. I wrote declined. The young man behind the window didn't bat an eye, but told me I would have to pay a $50.00 deposit for not giving that number which would be returned in 12 months with interest if I paid my bill on time. As with the other service providers, I paid to protect my privacy and keep that evil SSN out of their hands. Because I chose to take these steps, I shelled out a total of $265 in cash as a penalty just to get basic services.
More time was wasted when I went to the local federal credit union to open a new, local account. The very sweet young lady explained that under the farce called the "Patriot Act," I either provide my SSN or no new account. She handed me a little piece of paper which reads:
"U.S. Patriot Act Notice. On October 26, 2001, President Bush signed into law the U.S.A. Patriot Act. The purpose of the law is to help protect you, your family and our country from terrorism by preventing terrorist financing. We want you to know that section 326 of the Act requires our credit union to verify the identity of all new credit union members. We must also verify the identity of members and nonmembers added as signatories to and have access to new or existing deposit accounts and loans. We must also retain copies of documents used to verify your identity.
"If you are an existing member who joined the credit union before the USA Patriot Act rules became effective, we may also need to verify and retain copies of any documents used to verify your identity when you request a new deposit account, apply for a loan or are added....We ask for your understanding as we work to support these efforts to maintain the security of your funds and our country."
What bilge. I offered to provide my certified birth certificate, my marriage license, my California DL and military ID which would identify me. Nope. Hand over the SSN or no account. I could have parroted that number to this young woman, but would that have "verified" who I am? No. I could have been anyone standing there using a stolen number purchased a few hours earlier off a street corner in El Paso. I told her very politely that I wouldn't play this silly game of "protecting me from terrorists" and the rest of the propaganda being spewed by the Bush Administration. Now, mind you - I am in the heart of George and Laura country, but that doesn't cut any hay with me. I simply refused and will keep my out-of-state account which I had before the draconian "Patriot Act" even existed. Even though GAO (Government Accounting Office) has issued many reports on the abuse by private entities of this misnamed "social security" number, the fools in Congress have allowed the situation to blow up into an unmanageable mess that is destroying the lives of millions of Americans while they vacation and raise money half the year. (The House will "work" a total of 71 days in 2006.) In the past six years more than 30 MILLION Americans have been the victims of theft identity and YOUR time is coming, mark my words.
The following day I received a phone call from a new stupidvisor at AT&T who allowed me to go through the same dance all over again. And, again, I asked her to simply pick up the phone, call her own company and verify we are long time customers with a perfect paying record. Nope. Madame told me to call back on Monday and try again! Try what again? I then called a friend who referred me to an attorney in Austin. We spoke over the weekend and on Monday, June 12, 2006, I received a phone call from another stupidvisor; this one apparently higher up in the ranks.
We again went round and round about SSN's, identity theft and how absurd this entire episode was and never in my life had I experienced such stupidity. Another day went by and now I am contacted by two stupidvisors who insist all John or I have to do is give up our SSNs so AT&T can snoop into our personal business. I told these two drones that looking at our credit history wouldn't tell them squat about my paying record with AT&T over the past eight years in California. I also explained as patiently as my Sicilian temper would allow, that on their own web site it states that in order to obtain phone service, you can present one of the following: Texas driver's license, State ID OR SSN. I also explained that on page 49 of their own, current phone book it states that if a person has no credit, they can simply pay a deposit.
I offered to pay the deposit. Nope. I already have credit, so they wouldn't allow that! I offered to pay one year in advance so I would have a credit balance running. Nope. They refused. Stupidvisor two sitting in on this stuck on stupid conversation asked me if I had a Texas Driver's License? I replied not yet, but my husband does and he can fax a copy or call you the number. Nope, no good. I told both of these women that I had dug through the moving boxes and found the last months of AT&T phone bills along with our duplicate checks to prove our paying history with them. I can fax them right over. Nope. Next I hear that if I provide a Texas driver's license, these two ladies are 99.999% sure we're a go. Fine, I replied, I'll go get my new license tomorrow. The following day, June 15, 2006, I spent five and one half hours going through the most incredible journey to get my 2004 Jeep (with less than 30,000 miles) registered and a Texas DL. I phoned the two stupidvisors that afternoon and guess what? That will not be acceptable after all. Gee, we're sorry. If I don't give up our personal business (by now, the head stupidvisor admitted she could not ask for my a SSN, a small victory), I would be denied phone service, period.
I refused, but my husband, who has been fighting cancer since last November, finally had enough and contacted the stupidvisor at AT&T, gave up a special pin number provided by Equifax for vets who had frozen their credit histories; he just couldn't handle anymore stress regarding this absurd situation. AT&T then proceeded to snoop into all of our personal business and on June 20th, exactly two weeks from my first call, AT&T turned on phone service. Both of these stupidvisors said during our last conversation that they personally had never seen anything like this, had never gone through anything like this with a new customer, but their hands were tied by the higher ups at their main credit bureau. Did we have an alternative? There is Cox phone service in my area but it is considered inferior and would cause complications with my computer system. If my husband wasn't having such serious health issues (old war health problems he's suffered since Viet Nam on top of the cancer), I would have told AT&T to shove it, taken Cox anyway and dealt with the computer problems.
I could not for the life of me understand what the Hell was going on with AT&T until last week when it was revealed that monstrous, anti-American companies like AT&T have been harvesting the personal information of Americans far and above what is needed for phone service - in our case, less than a lousy $50 bucks a month. The big question is: just what are they doing with our personal financial history? Giving some stranger on the phone at AT&T the insidious SSN would not identify me as the various stupidvisors insisted would indeed happen. That's exactly how identity thieves work: they use that number over the phone to establish credit. AT&T deliberately operates in a fashion that promotes theft identity.
As it so happens, I recently caught a segment of senate hearings where counterfeit U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, a craven bottom feeder, was attempting to grill the CEO of AT&T. During this exchange, CEO Edward Whitacre, with a snug smirk on his face, basically told Specter to flip off and mind his own business. The telecommunications industry is supposed to be regulated by Congress under the ever growing definition of the Commerce Clause. As I watched this exchange on the boob tube, I thought, this is what its come to: these monstrous anti-American companies no longer care about the rule of law, there is no oversight into their activities except more blather when a complaint is made and they believe they are untouchable. Snoop into your personal information, harvest SSNs, monitor phone calls of Americans and thumb their noses at an incompetent and corrupt Congress. Hey, it's all in a day's work for a one world totalitarian government. Play by OUR rules or you don't get something as basic as phone service. In 1998, I was denied health care service at UC Davis Medical Center (even though my husband had Blue Cross/Blue Shield full coverage) because I refused to supply a SSN.
As this farce was unfolding, more computer disks containing SSNs were stolen or posted on a government web site:
"SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The Social Security numbers and other personal information for 13,000 District of Columbia workers and retirees are now in the hands of thieves who reportedly stole a laptop from the home of an ING U.S. Financial Services employee last week, the company confirmed."
Sailors' Social Security Numbers, Other Data Found on Civilian Web Site Friday, June 23, 2006
"WASHINGTON - Personal data for 28,000 sailors and members of their families have been found on a civilian Web site, triggering a criminal investigation. The Navy said Friday the information was in five documents and included people's names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. Navy spokesman Lt. Justin Cole would not identify the Web site or its owner, but said the information had been removed. He would not provide any details about how the information ended up on the site. Cole said there was no indication so far that the information was used illegally, but individuals involved were being contacted and encouraged to monitor their bank accounts and credit cards."
These types of incidents are rampant and growing in numbers; see here. If you think you're not going to be the next victim, think again. It's just a matter of time.
To make matters worse, there is a bill by the brain dead in Congress called the Financial Data Protection Act. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I explained above, the first thing I did upon hearing about the theft of those computer disks from the VA employee was to freeze our credit reports. Six years ago I also took a half day to send certified letters to our federal credit union, both Equifax and TRW, our federal savings bank and MasterCard to put a fraud alert on our accounts. It has been very effective. Freezing our credit reports with these putrid operations like Equifax was mandatory the minute I heard about those stolen VA disks. Guess what? This so-called Financial Data Protection Act will PROHIBIT the states from allowing their citizens to freeze their credit reports in an effort to protect them from having their lives ruined by the milti-BILLION dollar identity theft industry! That's exactly right; see analysis here:
"The Financial Data Protection Act of 2006 (HR 3399) would prevent you, if you lived in one of 17 states that permitted this, from freezing your credit unless you were the victim of identity theft. Why is this significant? Since a creditor will have to check your credit history before issuing credit, they likely won't if they can't see your history, by freezing your credit you've effectively taken away a major reason why someone would steal your identity.
"The bill mainly establishes a federal standard for the protection of financial and personal data as well as what reporting agencies must do, but a lot of them are weaker than the state standards that exist already. To make matters worse, this document also supersedes those protections in the individual states which mean the federal government is taking a little bit more power away from the state's attorney generals."
Once again, and I believe by design, these poltroons and scavengers who serve in the U.S. Congress are attempting to make a situation worse and usurp the rights of the states. What should be done immediately? Congress need write a one page bill which reads: No private sector company, agency, organization or banking institution can ask any American to provide a social security number, period. (No one is required to obtain an SSN to live or work in these united States of America, so how can free Americans be forced into applying for this number to obtain medical treatment or phone service?) Only federal or state agencies as outlined in the Privacy Act of 1974 can ask for a SSN. Make it a felony. SSNs are for the purpose of the Social Security Administration's bookkeeping procedures to keep track of your earnings and any benefits you are entitled to if and when you do apply for them. End of bill. Simple and to the point.
John and I have perfect credit, we own our late models Jeeps outright; we have no debt other than our two homes and the one in Sacramento is on the market. We have worked hard to conduct ourselves in an honorable way in all financial dealings. We are major targets for theft identity. We have done everything under the sun to protect our private information, but these scoundrels in Congress refuse to put a stop to what's going on and they won't unless tens of millions of Americans demand the use of SSNs as identifiers is stopped once and for all nationwide. I'm not finished with AT&T or Equifax, but I should not have to spend my valuable time fighting to protect our financial lives because of an incompetent, rotten, corrupt Congress. Anyone who thinks they're free in this country anymore is in complete denial.
This mess is snowballing to the point where the next step - mark my words - will be a massive propaganda push to get Americans to demand bio chips inserted into their bodies because there's just "no other way to stop the theft identity." It's coming. In the meantime, get to these town hall meetings being held by incumbents in Congress (I say out all the bastards in November except Ron Paul and Tom Tancedro) and candidates running against incumbents. Demand this open invitation to identity theft be stopped and it can with one simple bill I've sketched above. That one episode with the stolen VA disks has cost the VA a whopping $14 MILLION dollars to notify the affected veterans and their families. VA is also going to monitor the affected vets credit reports for who knows how long at an average cost of $50-$150 per person (x 22.4 MILLION) per year. Wasted money for an agency that is already a disgrace with a health care/hospital system that rivals third world countries.
As for me, if you think I wasn't steamed during this entire process with AT&T, you're wrong. Outrage doesn't even cover what I felt. I wouldn't own stock in AT&T if it were given to me free. I will never buy any other product or service from AT&T other than this basic phone service. I've added AT&T to the list of companies I refuse to do business with, except in this case, just the phone and eventually I intend to switch to Cox. As far as I'm concerned, these companies are anti-American, anti-privacy by design and anti-freedom. Either Americans begin demanding this kind of stealing of your privacy stop or one day soon you will find yourself in the same boat as the supervisor I spoke with at FED EX: Her and her husband were victims of theft identity. It took over a year and $18,000 dollars to get it fixed. $18,000 dollars drained from these hard working, innocent Americans to fix what Congress has encouraged by their inaction. Will you be the next victim? The odds are, yes.
- Devvy Kidd - All Rights Reserved
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Devvy Kidd authored the booklets, Why A Bankrupt America and Blind Loyalty, which sold close to 2,000,000 copies. Devvy appears on radio shows all over the country, ran for Congress and is a highly sought after public speaker. Your complimentary copy of the 32-page report may be obtained from El Dorado Gold. Devvy is a contributing writer for www.NewsWithViews.com.
Devvy's website: www.devvy.com
E-mail is: [email protected]
These types of incidents are rampant and growing in numbers; see here. If you think you're not going to be the next victim, think again. It's just a matter of time.