Has my DirecTV account been hacked?

I happened to open my DirecTV bill this morning just because it was sitting there and well, I had nothing else to do in that moment. I expected to see the normal monthly charge and since my bill is on auto pay, I was about to toss it in the "to be filed" pile. However, I noticed a $34.95 PPV (Pay-per-view) charge on there for Boxing Chavez/Loriga – LIVE. The date was 4/26/08 (the day I was flying back from Portland). While I do enjoy a good boxing match every now and then, I haven’t ordered a PPV in a year or two (maybe longer). Even when I have done PPV’s in the past it was via my remote, never over the phone! So I hopped on the phone with DirecTV "customer service" to get this obvious mistake taken off my account. That’s when the fun began (NOT!):

 

Has my account been hacked?

Apparently when you call to order a PPV, DirecTV verifies account information. Things like the billing address, account holder’s name, etc. While I don’t think it’s too far fetched for someone to come up with this info, what makes this whole ordeal even more strange is that DirecTV then sends the signal to a specific receiver ID (the box in your house) to watch the PPV. So even if someone knew my account info, they wouldn’t be able to watch the event unless they were sitting in my living room OR unless they found a way to fake receiver ID’s in DirecTV’s system. So I asked for a supervisor and the supervisor came on the line and told me that the caller had everything they needed to place the order and she even gave me the phone number that the call was placed from (602)-575-2077. Well gee, that’s not even my area code, let alone my number. "Let’s call it now while I have you on the phone shall we?" Of course when I dialed the number, I got a recording saying that "the call could not be completed as dialed" which leads me to believe that this person/hacker did this intentionally. Even though I have been a loyal DirecTV customer for YEARS, and I’ve never called with any kind of account problem before. They still would NOT issue me a credit for this. After all, I must be lying because the person who called this in from a number not my own and not on my account had my information and therefore it must be legit! I went to my DirecTV TiVo and checked purchases and it doesn’t even show up there. I also verified the receiver number and it was the one used. The mystery continues…

 

Needless to say, I’m PISSED! For now, I have setup a password on the account and nothing else can be ordered or looked up without it. It would have been nice to see the fight that I’m having to pay for. Too bad the criminal/hacker didn’t have a way to record it for me on my box. DirecTV, I will be looking to move OFF of your system in the not too distant future (I almost yelled, “WELL CANCEL MY ACCOUNT THEN!”, right on the spot)! Thanks for the trust, customer service and the love you’ve shown me today. I’ll never forget it. I’ll also be sure to let everyone know how great you guys are (starting here and now!)



  • Bill Hamilton

    Go get’um. Love it when bad customer service gets its just rewards!

  • http://www.sarahkdesigns.com Sarah K

    Woah !!

    That’s an upset Terry !! I’ve had the same issues with auto bill pay. I believe the companies see that you’re auto… and just tag on a few extra charges now and then. Because, you’re not going to look at your bill (that’s why you’re on auto bill pay, so you don’t have to right). It just so happens you were bored this morning and looked at it… It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to view your account history to see how often this has happened ya know ?!!?
    Thanks for the heads up about DirecTV : )

  • http://www.photowalkpro.com Jeff

    I haven’t had any phantom charges on my DirecTV account, that I know of, but I am not far from looking for a better solution too. I have been a customer for 11 years and the only thing I have received from them are changes to my packages and rate hikes. Every day I see ads to entice new customers with offers of free HD receivers and recorders but nothing for the loyal customer. I guess they figure they already have my money so why bother.

  • Jack Beckman

    Time to write to the CEO with a copy of this blog entry. You may see some action then. It never fails to amaze me how these low-level supervisors think they’re doing their companies a favor by pissing people off.

  • http://RoslundMedia.com Tony Jr.

    Don’t even get me started on DirecTV. The best thing you can do for yourself is CANCEL service with them. Fortunately, it sounds like this is the “first” issue you’ve had with them. Give it time, there will be others. What ever happened to customer service?

  • Ajay Jhaveri

    Thanks for the heads up on this. Sorry you had to go through this hassle.
    I have never checked my bill, but I will from now on.

    Ajay

  • http://www.Sean-Phillips.com Sean Phillips

    I love the power of the Blogosphere. These people really have to understand that they could be talking to just about anyone, and that their customers may just have an audience of hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of readers that will hear about this kind of thing…

  • Jeff

    Terry,

    I just canceled my DirecTV after they couldn’t give me HD. I had asked what day I needed to cancel by so that I wouldn’t owe anything else to them. They gave me a date of the 21st I canceled on the 18th, but low and behold what their customer rep told me was wrong and I owed for another month of service.

    To top that they say they don’t store credit card info, and my bill is not on auto pay but I do pay with me CC. While disputing this charge they paid the bill on the credit card without my permission.

    I will never go back to them for TV service

    Jeff

  • Cheryl McGregor

    I feel the same way about HP and their extended NO service contracts. I’ve had luck sending emails to corporate (other companies) with these types of issues. Also, does your local tv station have one of those ‘on your side’ type reporters. Ours has a team that routinely resolves at least $100k in refunds a year for people. The last thing Directv is going to want is their name splashed all over the news. A BBB complaint may help also. Sometimes just the bombardment from different angles does the trick.

    Cheryl

  • Chris

    That is when I would have said “Cancel my Account, I’m ordering Dish Network” – if you had made them go through the steps of cancellation, they most likely would have reversed the charges instead. And, if they hadn’t, then someone would have probably contacted to get you back; they are big on retention that way.

    It is a sorry state that we have come to: one must not only threaten, but follow through with threats to be taken seriously on customer service matters these days. I have turned off some services recently for poor customer service issues and done without them (I think of it as liberating myself).

  • Larry

    Terry:

    My Family is also unhappy with the level of customer service we received from Direct TV.

    We also went through 4 DVR boxes in a year and the tech told us that they keep sending out refurbished boxes to customers. Hence, the high failure rate. (Jsut what I wanted to hear)

    We were debating going back to cable and after reading this I think we will.

    Thanx for the heads up and maybe you should post who you went with after this whole debacle.

    All The best,
    Larry

  • Dan

    I had DTV since their inception until a couple of months ago. Wanted to upgrade my receiver and dish for more HD programming. They showed up on time and I instructed them to just install and not hook up HD. I have an AV guy who does all this for me on a custom install.

    They refused and insisted on my buying cables from them and installing HD. I refused and cancelled immediately.

    Customer srevice only goes so far.

    Dan

  • http://www.rickphenicie.com Rick

    Thanks for the heads up – looks like I’m heading over to Dish Network for my service. Let us know what happens.

  • http://pathdoc1701.blogspot.com Martin Howard

    Blast ‘em Terry! Do they think you are running off to the Caribbean on your “bogus” claim for a credit??? It amazes me how CS reps will throw good customers to the wind for nothing. I doubt they realize they just bought $1million in free ads for the competition.
    mh

  • Gary Tate

    Well I have been with Dish TV for several years now and have often compared the two (direct vs Dish). The big selling point for me has always been the one receiver two TV capability with Dish. Two different remotes for two separate TVs where you can watch different programming. None of those ugly second boxes required just a small remote.
    Now after reading your story I have another reason staying with Dish Customer service

  • Scott

    Not that I’m a fan of DirecTV but you might want to call them up and get the number to their loss prevention/internal security group. From my experience working at Comcast and investigating cable theft I’ve worked on a few cases involving contract installers who did cable and satellite work who where caught stealing services. Back then it was easy to clone the satellite cards. So if you have someone who’s figured out how to clone the box id (or whatever number they use for identifying customer hardware these days) and has access to the customer database it would be real easy to make someone else pay for your pay-per-views. I know I had access to everything in the database including ssn’s for tracking down anything I was investigating. And I’ve seen some VERY creative ways of stealing cable services over the years. Wish I had the direct number for you but I haven’t worked in that industry for some time now.

  • Dave

    Before anyone cancels their DirecTV service and switches to DISH Network… realize that they are owned by the same Parent company and have been for a few years. I am amazed that DirecTV/DISH/Comcast/etc treat their existing customer base the way they do. Short sight thinking going on in that business. Perhaps another phone call is in order in hopes of finding a Supervisor that can think for themselves ;-)

  • kim

    HEY TERRY, READ THIS: I had been a customer for about six years when DTV sold one of my family members (a minor child) a DVR box as a gift for me on my account. After several months of unused DVR service I tried to cancel, but was told by DTV that “I” was notified when the order was placed that the purchase was tied to a two-year contract. With over a year on the “contract” remaining, the early cancellation penalty amounted to hundreds of dollars! I spoke with supervisors in customer service, billing and legal departments and explained that a) the person who made the purchase was a minor and not authorized to sign a contract on my behalf, b) the person who placed the order was not advised by DTV of any two-year contract tied to the purchase, and c) I, as the account holder NEVER AGREED TO A TWO-YEAR CONTRACT FOR ANYTHING and was not aware that the purchase was being made. No one at DTV was willing to do anything more than listen to my complaints and transfer me to another department. I spent hours trying to resolve this with NO RESULT. I’m PISSED AND STILL PAYING… “My” two-year “contract” is not over until July ’08.

  • http://www.ssdesignz.com Sheldon

    That is a Phenoix, Arizona number. My aunt has the same area code.

    I had DTV and Dish, went back to cable, and have not had a problem yet.

  • dix99

    Could it be a ‘Slingbox’ hack?

  • Frank Martin

    I understand fully why you would be really pissed about the charge.

    But I will say this.. As I really enjoyed your handling and instruction at the Portland InDesign CS3 Productivity Tour.. give me the info.. I would be willing to pay for the charge as a thank you. Just let me know

    I can not get Direct TV or Dish Network because I have no clear access from my apartment and due to some trees.. but these kinds of stories scare me away from purchasing it in the first place even if I could.

  • http://www.emacartoon.com Emma

    Hey, Terry,

    Yeah, that is a central Phoenix area code, more than likely one of the recycled masses of cell phone numbers that float through here (I myself inherited one a few years back and still get calls for “Miguel”).

    You really should have threated to cancel, because then they try to jump through hoops to keep you, but again, you’ve been told that before, as well.

    I will tell you something new, however. Over here, DirectTV goes through Qwest (they also hold our phones and DSL internet), and you might be able to call Qwest and get to the bottom of it.

    This perpetrator obviously has done this before, and being that you are a medium-high profile gentleman, it’s more possible for him to get your home address, etc.

    You haven’t run into any punk kids from Phoenix, have you?

    Hope you get it all sorted out!

    ~Emma

  • http://www.davidjturner.com Dave

    Hey Terry,
    I feel for you. It is so frustrating getting caught in customer service hell with Direct tv.
    They bank on the fact that it’s a hassle to switch providers. I’m getting upset reading all this. I’ve been there and it sucks. Hang in there and the first chance you get, switch and be sure to write them and nice long letter.

  • Jeff

    Terry,

    Persistence does pay off with DirecTV, I finally after talking with no less than 15 folks and at least 3 supervisors in the billing department I finally got my issue resolved to my liking and they credited my account.

    Jeff

  • http://www.sanjayd.net/wordpress Rob

    Terry,

    Sorry to hear about your issues with DirecTV. I have been through a few things with them and they all were a nightmare. Regardless, they are the lesser of the evils here on the east coast in Maryland.

    The best advise I can give you is call them back and keep asking for a supervisor until you get to someone who will credit you. Make sure you throw in there that you have been a loyal customer for a long period of time …etc. As a last resort I have gone down the – cancel my account now road which is when they transfer you to the customer retention department and you end up winning out.

    I have even had 6 months of free movies and other things given to me as a way to keep my business.

    Good luck!

    Rob

  • Ken

    Terry,
    Contact the Better Business Bureau. My son had trouble with Verison and I didn’t think he had an ice cubes chance to get resolved. After contacting the BBB, a rep from Verison contacted him, appologized and cleared the matter up. It is worth a try.

    Ken

  • arrakian

    I can’t lie: I would’ve told ‘em to cancel right then and there!!! it may be drastic, but I can’t stand companies who are “ambivalent” to laoyal customers.

  • vicky

    like you I’m so waiting for my contract to be up then their outta here! They are just too full of it. Thanks for voicing it so I’m not feeling by myself.

  • Robert

    I suggest you consider filing of a complaint regarding their charge. You have a reasonable case: the item was ordered when travel can be verified; the telephone number utilized by the ordering party was a. invalid and b. readily distinguishable from your resident address, e.g., different state and area code than your home mailing address; and you allege no previous complaints lodged despite lengthy service use, e.g., not a chronically unhappy customer.

    Three agencies immediately come to mind: the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. All three have jurisdiction triggered and should be amenable to receipt. All have online intake capability:

    http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,1607,7-164-17331-42077–,00.html

    https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/dod/wsolcq$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU01

    http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints_general.html

    Direct TV is owned by DirecTV Group, Inc., a publicly traded company. Their address is 2230 E. Imperial Highway, El Segundo, California 90245. They, in turn, are controlled by Liberty Media LLC, also a publicly traded company. Their address is 12300 Liberty Boulevard, Englewood, Colorado 80112.

    It might be helpful to copy them on all correspondence to federal and state authorities. Darris Gringeri, DirecTV’s Vice President, Public Relations was kind enough to make his e-mail address available on their web site: dagringeri@directv.com

  • Sharon

    If you ever have a Customer Service issue with a cable/phone/media provider, ask for a supervisor and inform them you are contacting the Public Utilities Commission. That is the LAST thing that any customer service manager wants to hear. (the number of your local PUC office must listed on your monthly bill by law) Trust me, you will get results.

    And, the replier who mentioned that the DISH and Directv are owned by the same parent company is correct. I work for a consulting firm, and they are a client and word is that DISH is a short-lived commitment. Sad to say.

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  • Jeff

    Terry,

    I noticed the VERY SAME EVENT (also not ordered by me) on my bill this week! I did a google for:

    04/26 PPV: Boxing: Chavez/Loriga – LIVE

    and got your blog entries. Given that it is the very same event on hte same day, I think your assumption of a hack/fraud is legitimate. The rep I spoke with said there were 3 attempts to order the event within minutes on the morning of the event, all over teh phone. I told her I have never used the phone to order an event and after 45 minutes of banter with the rep, she finally conceded and credited my account for the event. This is the first issue I have had (other than the price hikes) but will be very cautious of my bills in the future. If anyone else gets this issue, please post an entry, I’d love to know how pervasive this error is.

    Jeff

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  • http://blog.indoorhdantenna.com/ antenna

    I just recently switched to Dish about 6 months ago and wish I never would have. I always thought about going back to Dtv. But after reading this… Is this happening other places too?

  • sam

    Someone ordered sunday ticket 4 times to the account # to my secondary box at really strange hours and once when I was out of town.I being on auto-pay only noticed by accident the same way you did Terry.DTV said they couldnt do anything about it.Have yet to talk to a supervisor but I will be.I guess Ill request a new access card for my secondary receiver and keep an eye on my bills from now on.Totally sucks though.

  • tom piras

    If you give your DirecTV account number to your “friends” and IF they purchase DirecTV service, DirecTV will give you $100.00. Anything sound funny?

  • Old skool DTV Tech

    After being in several areas of the operation of directv, not just ‘customer service’ but installs, tech support, security monitoring, etc… This all doesn’t sound to unfamiliar unfortunately. Your issue happened around the time that DirecTV started outsourcing to other countries and there lies the problem of idiots on the computers and phones. Could be an honest mistake, but since they are not trained as well as I was (I was around when there was only the original small dish with one location LNB), alot weird crap happened that people like me had to fix.
    While an idiot screws things up for one person, you gotta remember there are those who do their job and do it well. We are humans and we are educated. Give osme of us a break.
    $100??? Valid promotion….but you do have to jump through tons of hoops to ensure everyone gets those things.

    • http://(home) Ron M

      I noticed that you used to work for Directv. I happened to find this website after doing a Google search to find out if anyone else had the same problem I did. If you get a chance, please read my response and drop me an e-mail to let me know what you think.

  • Old skool DTV Tech

    also, forgot to ad, Dish has the SAME issues. Hack can happen and have happened. It’s the nature of the beast ;)

  • http://(home) Ron M

    I have had problems with DIrectv myself. About 2 or 3 years ago, I had noticed that all of a sudden an adult movie came on my tv sreen. I didn’t order it! So I checked the purchased movie list and found that there were several movies that had been somehow remotely ordered, not by me or anyone else becasue I live here alone and nobody else has access to my apartment, not even my landlord. My oldest son was living here prior to that, but, he had gotten married and was living about 50 miles from hear. My youngest son would come on the weekends, but, the times the movies were ordered he was not here, he was at school. He was living with his mother at the time. I want top know if there is anyone else who had this expreince. I called DIrectv and disputed these charges and they told me that they were sorry, bu, the records showed that these adult movies were ordered from my remote. That was of course impossible because some of those movies were ordered while I was sitting just watching the Discovery channel and I didn’t even have the rmote in my hand. Does anyone know if there is a phone number that I could call and report this?

    Ron M