Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | March 19, 2011

Beware of “Verification”

There’s a new scam in town.

Company calls over and over again (claiming to be the phone company, actually) just wanting to “verify your address”. Over and over again they get told we aren’t interested, leave us alone, don’t call. Finally, my solitary staffer gets sick of fending them off and goes through their voice activated “address verification”, during which a mechanical voice asks questions, followed by a command to “Say Yes or No, then press the pound key.”

So she goes through the innocuous questions, including her full name, the office address and phone number, plus several iterations of saying “Yes or No, then press pound.” The calls stop; everyone is happy.

Until I get the phone bill six weeks later. Lo and behold, there is an extra $49.99 charge (plus tax) from a company I never heard of. Multiple phone calls reveal it to be a company providing “Internet optimization, web services, and a toll free number,” stuff I neither need nor want.

I call to bitch complain. I am told there exists a recording of Solitary Staffer authorizing said services. I’ve actually heard this line before. “Let me hear it,” I demand. What usually happens is that said recording “cannot be found,” the services end up canceled, the account credited.

This time, though, they produce a recording of what is clearly SS’s voice saying her full name, the office address and phone number, plus the word “yes” several times. However the mechanical voice is saying things like, “Do you agree that you are authorized to incur charges at this number,” which SS clearly is not, knows she is not, and to which she never ever would have responded “Yes” and pressed the pound key.

Obviously they have taken clips of her voice and spliced them into whatever they wanted.

A nice touch is the “30 day free trial period” during which I could have stopped the service for free, the catch being that I received no notification until the phone bill six weeks later.

I yell, scream, moan politely demand that they discontinue the service and credit my account immediately. Although the first person I get on the line claims not to have the authority to do so, she puts me on hold for a while, then comes back and agrees to credit me $99.98 for the two billing cycles. Now I have to decide if it’s worth calling the phone company to get the $6.00 credit for the damn tax.

Take home lesson: be very leery of calls for “verification,” a word whose root comes from the Latin for “truth”, that now seems to portend naught but lies.


  1. Thanks for the info; glad you resolved it. And if you want the six tax bucks back, it’ll take only $140 worth of your time. It is ridiculously time consuming to reach a human being at a telephone and other communication company, so let me suggest – COG that I am, forget about the six bucks and I’ll buy a drink the next time I see you.

  2. I’d put the company name in this blog post, then tweet it, facebook it and send a link to the better business bureau.

    My post on the National Honor Roll scan gets hundreds of hits a month, and with every hit I am informing a potential scam victim away. The post even prompted a TV news show to do a story on the scam.I got interviewed of course, but that’s not the point. The point is that my little blog post PSA continues to do it’s job. It’s a great feeling.

  3. This scam has actually been around quite a while and it’s annoying as hell. I’d sometimes get as many as ten calls like this a week when I had the inn, as have many innkeepers I know. I guess they’re targeting doctors’ offices now.

  4. What I would really like to know is: a) how it is legal for another company to bill you via the telephone company like that. I know it is, but how did it ever get that way? I can’t pad my bills with unrelated services from a different company; and b) does the company in question provide any legitimate services for your fee of $49.99 a month, and can they prove they provided them to you?

  5. Wow!!! Scamming has taken itself to the next level. And yes, my questions are similar to the above commenter. Do they offer ANY real services? That type of trickery should be worthy of a legal reprimand. Knowing me, I’d probably wouldn’t rest until I’d gotten all my money back–$6 included.

  6. I received the same call about a year ago. I stated I did not want any free offers and to not bill me for anything. The call center from Asia rep stated they just wanted to verify my office address and phone number, which I stated yet to on a recorded line. Two months later I received a bill for $44, including tax. I got the money back by stating I did not ask for any internet building site, as I already have a website. I have learned simply to hang up on any of these scammers.

  7. Yep, we got this for the phone book. I went through the questionnaire like an idiot, and got a bill for $600. Office manager nearly had kittens. Then we got threatening phone calls claiming we owed them money, but would agree to “discount” the bill. Office manager asked to hear the proof, whereby the spliced tape was played. She hung up on them.

    We continued getting bills and threatening letters, blah, blah. The last time they called, I got the phone and squealed with glee. “Hold on,” sez me. “Let me get my recorder going so I can turn this over to the FBI.” Never heard from them since.

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