We have all probably experienced mysterious charges appearing on billing statements. When you try to resolve the problem you begin to wonder what the word “prompt” actually means today. The wonderment continues when you try to extrapolate the meaning of the word absolute in reference to privacy policies and “YOUR” account. Confusion and haze encircle the brain’s ‘gray’ matter and things get murkier. When you try to shake it off, you learn that hackers are not only operating on the outside of business, but on the inside.
Dealing with bogus charges is like being on a wagon train and having to create a circle when under attack by the locals. Back then the enemy was Indians. Now the enemy is hackers. Hackers come in all shapes and sizes, and today they include berserk businesses and their billing departments. The weapon of choice is Money. You don’t have any and they do, and they don’t care how they get more.
Haven’t we all thought our account and all the information in our account was private? Well it is, all right, but only the business holding the account can do what they will with it, not you.
Things continue to mutate over time. Since the ‘r’ has disappeared from the word ‘prompt’ when it comes to dealing with a billing problem getting prompt attention has turned into p “”ompt attention (pomp ed). – The meaning of which is ‘self importance’ but it’s no longer a noun. It is part of the business’ “as usual” routine. It’s what they do. They continue to practice and preen, their ‘self-importance.’ at the expense of the consumer. In the past, protocol suggested that what’s mine is mine and only I could access it and make changes. Now accounts are just not safe. We cannot change them or access them.
It used to be only the owner of the account was granted authority to the information on the account including billing and payment thereof, changes or access in any way. It used to be the owner of the account had to give written or verbal permission for access to the account in any way, but now AOL can just attach to your phone and charge you, so beware. It is easier for a hacker to access an account than it is for the account owner due to the codes, passwords, and secret identities each company requires of its account owners/holders, along with the progressive aging of society and agings’ companion, memory loss. It’s difficult to get resolve with these issues, and the time consumed is often one to three hours, which equates to a $300 phone bill. Does this sound like a racket to you?
Prompt is not the only word that has mutated. Absolute joins the ranks by changing to obsolete. The AU is now OE. I refer to the privacy policies of businesses that are so willing mailed and emailed to customers, but they don’t mean a thing. The company’s disclaimers boast “prompt” attention given to customers. I see these little sheets of paper as a wanton waste of paper and terrorist acts done by tree-killers. Graffiti is against the law and that’s all this is, but it’s not even artistically done. Much less, if you are going to say something you better mean it. If you don’t, then stop saying it. These businesses not only get away with littering, but theft has been legalized within their walls.
In Thursday, June 8, 2006 Wall Street Journal an article titled, “…Vulnerability of Web Phone Service to Fraud.” (by Searcy.Young) tells us that having a cable phone service, such as Vonage leaves us wide open to hackers, fraud, identity theft, etcetera. Frankly, I think we are surrounded already. We are susceptible at every turn. Law enforcement is on the look out for outside hackers and they’ve made some arrests, but legislation is condoning the practices of the insiders.
Your land line is just as vulnerable to hackers of this different breed. Cable and internet may not be attached to your phone at all, but charges will appear on your phone bill. And the hackers? Well, they are your current providers; like Qwest Communications and AOL.
We are not safe from any company’s unscrupulous business practices. AOL’s marketing division spew out millions of CDs in their ‘cattle drive’ attempt to gain more customers. Thousands of hours and even months of free service entice the public into using the CDs. After the hours are spent, the three months, or six months, the telephone number under which the initial account flowed through, although disconnected, receives AOL charges. Ten years ago they would accept credit/debit cards only, and then only from the account owner, but they’ve changed. Now any Tom, Dick, or Harry can have charges added to their phone line if they use one of those discs whether you, the phone owner give permission or not. The FCC and our legislators should not allow that kind of billing practice.
It is an act of terrorism against the consumer. When an unsuspecting consumer with a telephone has visitors for two weeks who rent a computer and use one of those CDs to access the internet while they have the rental and charges come in six months later at $30.00 per month… And if you did not set the AOL account up, you won’t be able to cancel it either. Even though you own the phone account, you won’t be able to get the charges credited on that account. Why, because the AOL account is not yours, but you will be expected to pay for it.
This is just sheer terror and, unconscionable behavior from upstanding businesses whose billing departments allow such a thing to occur. Consumers cannot trust the internal workers of current providers like Qwest Communications and AOL. The confidentiality of customer information isn’t safe from the providers much less the hackers. Privacy laws make it more difficult to access our own accounts, but Qwest and AOL can put their billing departments together to allow charges to be placed on an account without authorization by you, the account holder. So, beware, the hackers are not only without, but within.
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