Are You A Sitting Duck for Identity Theft?

Think you’re safe? Do you shred all your financial documents? Check your credit card statements meticulously for erroneous charges?  Well, you’re not safe and you may find out the hard way, like I did.

I was contacted by a collection agency (AFNI) working for DISH Network trying to collect a debt I never made. Somewhere, at a bank, mortgage company or government database, someone stole my social security number. They then used it or sold it to someone living in Washington State. That person called DISH Network to install services at their address, using my Social Security Number and somebody’s credit card. They then canceled the card, and didn’t pay the bills.

On the contract, my name is not completed. The phone number, email address and installation address are not mine. I received no service from the company. The credit card used was not mine. The signature on the contract is not mine; in fact, it’s just initials and not my initials.

I contacted a lawyer who said that if my name was not on the contract, and I did not receive any services nor authorized any services for someone else, I’m not obligated to pay for it. While that might be true, it doesn’t mean anything.  My name was still forwarded from DISH to a collection agency AFNI.

The collection agency, AFNI, threatened to ruin my credit rating even though I told them all of the above. They don’t care.

I called DISH Network to try to straighten it out. DISH “customer service” would not even tell me where the service was installed that I supposedly ordered. When I told them it was their mistake, not mine, they didn’t care and became rude, defensive and blamed me because it was my SSN. 

Fortunately, I have LifeLock services, so I am getting help clearing it up, but it’s still a nightmare. DISH Network has been terrible to work with about this matter. I’ve been working on it for 3 months now and DISH won’t even talk to LifeLock without the police report. Getting a police report takes longer than you think and amazingly the police said it is doubtful anything will happen to the perpetrator in Washington, even though they have their address, phone and email.

It’s been a mess. DISH is not helpful and AFNI is terrible. When I contacted AFNI by letter, they sent me a letter back dropping the amount they said I owed by half. There was no reason to discount it; it was either my debt or not my debt. Then they slammed my credit rating, lowering my credit score.

I reached out on Linked In to Dish customer service. They did respond and I spoke with a rep that was very apologetic, but ultimately I have to wait 4-6 weeks for the credit agencies to clear me. “Sorry, we don’t control that.”

When explaining the situation, the Dish rep said they have been discussing this issue and are meeting to discuss it more. Meanwhile anyone with a stolen social security number is a sitting duck. When discussing the issue, I mentioned that they should not do business with this collection agency and that I had read other horror stories about this company. The curious “blame the victim” statement from DISH was that nobody ever speaks highly of collection agencies. What?

If you get your identity stolen, be prepared to be re-victimized by the companies who come after you. They think of you as guilty, or in some way responsible for getting ripped off in the first place.

Be as careful as you can, but you still may not be able to protect yourself.

I’m not a LifeLock rep, but I’m glad I was a member. They helped with the paper work and are helping me to clear my name.

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