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New Update/Upgrade Scam Hits Cable Customers; Beware of Phishing E-Mails

Phillip Dampier October 19, 2016 Consumer News, Cox, Public Policy & Gov't No Comments

scamSeveral Arizona residents have reported receiving e-mail allegedly from Cox Communications requiring customers to update or upgrade their account, but in reality, the e-mail comes from a group of fraudsters trying to commit identity theft. The Pima County Sheriff’s Office has sent an open warning alerting cable customers in Arizona and beyond that if you receive an e-mail claiming you need to update or upgrade your account, disregard it, especially if it carries a deadline that warns your service will be disconnected if you don’t respond within a matter of days.

Customers who click on a link in the email will be taken to a phony Cox Communications website, where you will be prompted to provide your username, password and birth date. The sheriff’s office warns providing this information could start a series of criminal events that will not end well:

Why does this company need your birthdate? They want to steal from you. Do not provide any information to the purveyors of this scam.

Two vital pieces of information the fraudsters are always looking for are your date of birth and Social Security number. Anytime you are asked for this information over the phone in a call you did not initiate, or in an email from an unknown source, stop and ask, “Why?” Who wants to use this information?

If you receive requests that you have not initiated or you have not placed the call — a red flag should appear. Do not provide this information unless you know for a fact to whom you are speaking.

Your date of birth and/or Social Security number give the fraudsters have all the information they need to begin identity theft. The scammers can now open accounts in your name, make high-volume charges and ruin your credit. They are capable of doing this without your knowledge.

If they were to attack your established accounts first, your bank or credit card company may notify you of possible unauthorized activity. However, we have knowledge of unauthorized accounts operating for long periods of time while making large-dollar purchases. The scammers make minimal payments until the account is maxed out. Since the statement comes to a phony address established by them, the credit card company has to make a concerted effort to locate you because you no longer are making payments on this “zombie” account. When the company finally calls you, you are in shock! You had no knowledge of this account.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Office recommends consumers obtain a free credit report every four months by staggering requests for a free annual credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies. This will identify any new accounts you might be unaware of and prevent identity thieves from causing catastrophic damage to your credit score and reputation.

  • EQUIFAX: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA. 30371, 1-888-766-0008.
  • EXPERIAN: 701 Experian Pkwy. Allen, TX. 75013 1-888 EXPERIAN (397-3742)
  • TRANSUNION: Fraud Victim Assistance Div., P.O. Box 679, Fullerton, CA. 92834-6790. 1-800-680-7289.

A yearly report including credit reports from all three agencies is also obtainable at no cost by calling 1-877-322-8228 or visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.

Cox Customers Pushed Into New Set-Top Boxes Or Else They Lose Channels

Phillip Dampier September 22, 2016 Consumer News, Cox 2 Comments

COX_RES_RGBCox Communications is requiring cable customers to add a cable box to their television set(s) or they will start losing channels as the company continues its nationwide effort to digitally encrypt all of its television services.

Customers in Las Vegas are the latest to be pushed to add a digital adapter, dubbed a “minibox” by Sept. 27 or they will start losing channels. By Nov. 9, all cable channels are expected to be encrypted and on Dec. 6, local stations will also be encrypted and viewable only with a cable box or similar equipment.

Cox calls the move a customer-pleasing “upgrade.”

“It will enable us to implement more advanced services down the road,” Cox spokesman Juergen Barbusca told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We deployed home automation in the last couple of years and home security. We are trying to get as much bandwidth out of your cable potential as possible and one way to do that is to go completely digital.”

cox-miniboxCox customers with a basic Starter package of more than 40 channels at $24.99 a month will get two miniboxes free for two years. Those with the second tier Essential package ($75.99) with more than 90 channels will get two miniboxes free for one year. You read that right. If you pay Cox more, you get free boxes for half the time lower-paying customers do. Each additional box is $2.99 a month. A traditional HD-capable set-top box from Cox rents for $8.50 a month.

Cox’s miniboxes are more advanced that traditional digital adapters provided by some other cable companies, supporting service like Music Choice, HDTV, parental controls and an on-screen program guide.

Customers are generally okay with getting the boxes for free, but are convinced it will cause their cable bills to rise in the years ahead.

“I’m not happy with that. That’s more money and I’m only getting basic service. I’m already at $146 a month for cable, internet and phone,” Cox customer Monique Patton said. “Not everybody can afford that. It’s too expensive now. They’re not giving us what they should for our money.”

Fido Cable Leases Access from Current Cable Providers, Charges More Than They Do

(PRNewsFoto/Fido Cable)

(PRNewsFoto/Fido Cable)

You may soon have a choice of cable companies, but don’t expect any savings doing business with the competition.

South Carolina-based Sky Play, LLC has launched a new cable service it claims is available across the U.S., offering competitive broadband and later phone and television service.

The service, known as Fido Cable, is dependent on leasing access from cable companies including Cablevision-Altice, Charter-Bright House-Time Warner Cable, Cable One, Comcast, and Cox as well as telephone company AT&T.

“We believe that people deserve to select which internet company they would like to utilize as opposed to being stuck with one or two options of service from companies who constantly raise their rates and offer no thought of the customer they service,” said David Wheeler, vice president of Sky Play. “Fido Cable is available to everyone in every major city and surrounding cities throughout the U.S.”

The company’s claims about the aspirations of American cable subscribers may be true but after Stop the Cap! called the company and obtained price quotes, it is clear any savings doing business with Fido Cable are illusory at best. Fido has a single page website that needs work, including correcting “Cable Vision,” when it actually meant “Cablevision.” Details about service and pricing was scant, so we called the company to get prices for two large cable operators: Time Warner Cable and Charter.

The company claims it offers internet access today and will be offering voice services across its national footprint and television in “select cities.” For purposes of obtaining pricing information, we quickly learned our home city of Rochester, N.Y., is not select enough for Fido Cable.

charter twcFido Cable (which has no relationship with the Canadian prepaid mobile provider “Fido,” owned by Rogers Communications), says internet and voice plans start at $39.99 a month, but not for TWC or Charter customers.

In fact, Fido does not seem to offer any new customer promotional pricing. Their quoted rates were consistently higher than their cable company hosts charge their own customers. No wonder cable operators allowing Fido to compete using their systems are not breaking any sweat over the “competition.”

For instance, Fido charges a $120 installation and $15 modem fee for both Time Warner Cable and Charter customers. The representative claimed the modem fee was a one-time charge and customers were allowed to supply their own equipment. In comparison, both Charter and Time Warner Cable agreed to waive any installation fees for new customers. Time Warner Cable charges a $10 monthly modem rental fee and Charter includes the modem in the price of its service.

Fido Cable charges $65 a month for 15/1Mbps service. Time Warner Cable’s equivalent plan costs $59.99 a month for the service and modem rental (deduct $10 a month from TWC’s price if you buy your own modem). A 50Mbps plan from Fido costs $120 a month, but it’s $119 a month from Time Warner Cable (again, deduct $10 if you supply your own modem).

For Charter customers, a 60/4Mbps plan is priced $59.99 direct from Charter, but if you choose Fido Cable you will pay $5 more a month: $65. A 100/7Mbps plan from Charter is priced at $99.99, or you can pay Fido $105.

Here are more details about Fido internet plans we obtained today:

Time Warner Cable Service Areas

  • 10/1Mbps: $55
  • 15/1Mbps: $65
  • 50/5Mbps: $120

Charter Cable Service Areas

  • 60/4Mbps: $65
  • 80/5Mbps: $99
  • 100/7Mbps: $105

A 2-year price guarantee applies to all pricing.

Cox Cable Contractor Allegedly Raids Iowa Family’s Medicine Cabinet

Phillip Dampier September 6, 2016 Consumer News, Cox, Public Policy & Gov't 1 Comment

crimeA Cox Cable technician took his sweet time working on cable television service for the Nuzum family, spending almost two hours getting television service working but only took a few minutes to allegedly rifle through the Iowa family’s prescription medications.

Council Bluffs police promptly arrested 36-year-old Patrick Darrah after forcing him to turn out his pockets, revealing prescription medicine authorities believe was stolen from the family along with 11 other pills, including painkillers and stimulants.

“Just his demeanor while he was here, just left me a little uneasy,” Amy Nuzum told Omaha’s KETV.

The Nuzums report Darrah spent the better part of two hours on the cable service call, abruptly leaving even though the televisions were not all working.

COX_RES_RGBMrs. Nuzum suspected something was wrong and checked the upstairs where she said Darrah was left briefly alone.

“I thought of prescription medications. And went into the bathroom and found that a prescription that should have had 21 pills only had 13. And my heart just dropped,” she said.

Mr. Duzum called the Cox Cable tech’s cell phone to ask why he left with the work unfinished. Mrs. Duzum called Council Bluffs police. By the time both calls ended, Darrah suddenly reappeared in the family’s yard, where Mr. Duzum confronted him.

Darrah

Darrah

“I asked him you know, did you take any prescription medication out of my house? And he said no. And I asked him three times, and he said no,” Tony Nuzum told the TV station.

Police led the cable technician away and the Nuzum family hopes he can get help for his problem. But they also want to send a message to cable customers.

“Be careful when you let someone in to your home, even if they’re with a reputable company, you still have to have your guard up,” Amy Nuzum said.

Like many cable operators confronted with the alleged bad deeds of those who represent them, Cox Cable quickly disavowed Darrah, claiming he was actually an employee of ITC, a contractor Cox uses for service calls. ITC has reportedly fired Darrah. As a goodwill gesture, Cox said the company will install its home security system at the Nuzum’s home, free of charge.

KETV in Omaha featured this Iowa family, who believe a Cox Cable technician stole their prescription medication during a service call. (1:58)

Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Customers Can Keep Wi-Fi Roaming

cablewifiComcast has confirmed new Altice USA and Charter Communications customers that used to subscribe to Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks will be able to continue accessing the free nationwide Cable WiFi roaming service, even though Altice and Charter are not members of the consortium that runs it.

“The Cable WiFi consortium remains in place following the recent merger and acquisitions activity,” a Comcast spokesperson told FierceCable. “Subscribers of each [company] that were previously entitled to use the CableWiFi hotspots continue to enjoy access. Access points that were made available by each [affected cable operator] continue to provide CableWiFi service.”

The network allows any Comcast, Cablevision/Altice USA, Charter/Time Warner Cable, Charter/Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications broadband customer to access a network of 500,000 nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots run by the five cable operators. Customers will know if they are in range of a hotspot by finding CableWiFi as an available connection. Broadband subscribers can log in using the same credentials they use when logging into their cable operator’s website.

It is unknown if Charter Communications or Altice USA will join the consortium directly, which would expand the network to cover legacy Charter customers and those signed up with Suddenlink, another Altice-owned operator.

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