Posts by Tori Sutton

Dealing With Telecom Companies is Like …

dealingwithtelecomcompaniesCould one stupid mix-up rob you of your dream home? According to mortgage broker Robert McLister, it sure can. He hits the nail on the head in his piece from The Globe and Mail – this paragraph accurately describes the struggle of dealing with telecom companies that are reluctant to admit to any wrongdoing, under any circumstances.

“Upon realizing the credit damage, it became an epic battle with the cellphone company. Convincing unsympathetic customer service reps that their employer made a mistake is like persuading Hillary Clinton to vote for Donald Trump.”

While our focus at Schooley Mitchell is business, this column does contain some good information about personal credit and the impact that service providers – more specifically, wireless companies – can have on your credit rating. Hard to believe that just one missed cellphone bill can annihilate a mortgage application. It’s scary stuff.

Schooley Mitchell Lawsuit Watch: A Big Verizon Rip-Off?

verizonIn this edition of the Schooley Mitchell lawsuit watch, a consumer advocacy group is squaring off against Verizon, accusing the telecom giant of scamming customers and diverting the funds to expand its wireless and fiber optic networks.

The New Networks Institute alleges Verizon has overcharged New York landline subscribers to the tune of $1,000 to $1,500 each, spending the money on infrastructure improvements and corporate expenses.  New Networks executive director Bruce Kushnick says Verizon is overcharging for its copper-based landline service and that its other services are a rip-off. For example, call forwarding and call waiting costs $7.95 per month, but only costs the company 2 to 3 cents, he says.

“All the copper networks have been written off,” Kushnick was quoted as saying in a New York Post article. “Copper-based phone services should be $10 or $20 [per month].”

New Networks is planning on filing a lawsuit related to these allegations, while Verizon continues to deny any wrongdoing. Stay tuned …

U.S. Employees Would Sell Their Work Passwords

passwordNearly 30 percent of American office workers at large companies would sell their work passwords to an outsider, a recent study has showed. In total, 27 percent said they would happily exchange their passwords for cash, which is higher than the global average of 20 percent.

The study, which was conducted by research firm Vanson Bourne, is a follow-up to the same survey done two years ago. At that point, only one-in-seven office workers were willing to share their passwords. It’s alarming to think the number of people willing to compromise their employer’s network – and give access to proprietary data – is on the rise.

However, workers are not willing to give away their data for cheap. Over half of the employees said they wouldn’t sell their passwords for less than $1,000. To add a further layer, some said they would change their passwords immediately after receiving the cash.

The survey also revealed that 65 percent of employees use their work password in multiple locations and 32 percent shared their passwords with co-workers.

*Source: CSO Online

Canadian Commissioner to Hear Television Service Complaints

Schooley Mitchell complaintsCanadian consumers with television service complaints will soon be able to turn to the Commission for Complaints for Telecommunication Services (CCTS) for help. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced last week that television service providers would have until Sept. 1, 2017 to become members of the CCTS.

This means the CCTS is now the single point of contact for complaints about all major services, including television, Internet, wireless and landline telephone. Consumers concerned with things such as billing and service delivery are asked to first contact their provider for attempted resolution before filing to the CCTS.

“Since 2007, the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services has been providing a valuable service to Canadian consumers of telecommunications services by helping them resolve their complaints,” said CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais, in a press release. “With an increasing number of Canadians taking advantage of bundled offers including local voice, wireless, Internet, and television services offered by the same communications service provider, ensuring a single point of contact to deal with their complaints has never been more important.”

Read the full press release on the CRTC website.

Mom Fights T-Mobile Rip-Off

T-MobileA New Jersey mother is fighting to restore her credit after a deal with T-Mobile went wrong. Last year Andrea Sanchez switched her services from Sprint to T-Mobile, with a sales associate assuring her that T-Mobile would buy out her Sprint contract and pay off any balanced owed. She agreed to a new T-Mobile promotion, paying $100 for two lines: her iPhone and iPad Mini. She also opted to upgrade her devices.

Sanchez was surprised when T-Mobile shipped back her old iPad just weeks later. When she inquired with the sales associate, she was told to pretend it was a freebie, even though she thought it was too good to be true. She was right – the Sprint bills started rolling in, claiming she had an overdue account.

When she went back to the store to inquire, the manager told her T-Mobile would only cover a certain amount and the rest was her responsibility. Problem was she had a contract that said the full amount would be covered. Soon the matter was sent to collections.

“There’s no amount of money that can make bad credit look good,” Sanchez was quoted as saying in a NJ.com article. “I work too hard. I pay my car and rent on time, and this just made things really bad for me.

“…”I just want them to pay exactly what they owe so I can move on with my life and move into a new home and eventually buy a new car. I can’t do that without good credit. So therefore, my buyout was never done and I was sold a dream that later cost me more than money.”

Once media intervened, Sanchez did receive the money from T-Mobile to pay off the Sprint balance. However, Sprint is refusing to have the matter removed from her credit record, despite it not being her fault. Doesn’t sound very fair, does it?

AT&T to Launch Streaming Service

AT&TAT&T is preparing to jump into the streaming game, expecting to launch a new television service later this year. According to CNN, AT&T will offer TV bundles via an app that will include exclusive content.

Subscribers needn’t be an existing AT&T customer, though there will be incentives for those who double or triple up.

“We’ll be offering a more convincing value, in terms of pricing, if you’re bundling the products together, and we’ll have features that make them work better together,” AT&T Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey was quoted as saying.

There is no official launch date yet but the new service is expected to be available sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016. Competitors aren’t sure whether AT&T can pull it off, but if they can, there’s a good chance it could create another revenue stream for the telecom giant.

Apple Pay May Launch MasterCard in Canada

mastercard paymentsIf the rumors are true, Apple Pay is preparing to roll out MasterCard payments in numerous countries in 2016, including Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan and Singapore.

According to MacRumors.com, an internal document indicated Apple Pay’s plans to increase its offerings. Though the service supports the big American banks, it doesn’t offer the same in foreign countries.

“Earlier this month, a hidden ‘NetworkInterac’ string was uncovered in iOS 9.2.1 code that hints at Apple Pay support at Canada’s big banks,” wrote Joe Rossignol, on MacRumors. “Interac is Canada’s official debit card network, adopted by the country’s largest financial institutions nationwide. TD already stirred speculation in October when it inadvertently listed Apple Pay as a method of payment on its website, before quickly removing it.”

ISPs Won’t Get Chance to Offer Discounted Wireless

Schooley Mitchell complaintsA recent Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC) ruling likely means high cellphone bills are here to stay in Canada. Last week, the CRTC ruled against a coalition of small ISPs interested in offering steeply discounted wireless services.

The ISPs – known as the Canadian Network Operators Consortium – hoped to rent the networks of the big Canadian telcos, allowing them to offer alternative, inexpensive services. However, the CRTC says such a move wouldn’t be fair to the companies that have invested in their own networks, such as Bell, Rogers and Telus.

One thing is clear: it’s unlikely Canadians will benefit from a wave of new competition in the wireless industry anytime soon. According to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Report, Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the developed world, an average of $46 US per month. It’s not a coincidence Canadian carriers are also making some of the biggest profits in the world.

*Source: CBC

Hackers Attempt to Rip-Off Hospital

rip-offWho says fax is a thing of the past? It’s what staff at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center is using to communicate after hackers took control of its computer systems over a week ago.

The cyber crooks have demanded $3.6 million in Bitcoin to restore the hospital’s access to its email system and confidential patient records. Both the LA Police Department and FBI have stepped in to help, but until the perpetrators can be found, the hospital is unable to access or share diagnostic test results or patient history. Everything is now being charted on paper and the majority of patients have been shipped off to other hospitals.

“Alan Stefanek, the CEO and president of Hollywood Presbyterian, told NBC reporters that the cyberattack on his hospital was ‘random’ and not malicious,” states an article published by The Atlantic. “If that’s the case, then it’s possible someone at the facility clicked on an infected link in an email or a pop-up ad and introduced a virus onto the hospital network.”

This situation just reinforces the need to be vigilant and ensure staff is properly trained when it comes to malware and phishing schemes. If a hospital of this size is vulnerable, it’s easy to see how just about any business could fall victim.

Hawaii Takes Aim at Walking and Texting

walking and textingCellphone distraction is a very real thing and we’re well-versed on the dangers that come with it. According to the National Safety Council, one in four car crashes involve a phone, with texting or talking on the phone while driving identified as the riskiest behaviors.

In Hawaii, lawmakers are taking aim at another activity that doesn’t get nearly as much press: distracted phone use while walking. House Bill 2723 would prohibit a pedestrian from crossing a street, road or highway while using a mobile electronic device. That means anyone who saunters across the street while checking out a text message or chatting on the phone would be subject to a fine.

Understandably, the bill has some up in arms. One student interviewed by KHON2 worried if the bill would extend to activities such as listening to music.

“It kind of sucks. Everyone’s using their phone nowadays, but it’s technology,” said Gabriella Celedon, a who attends Hawaii Pacific University. “We’ve advanced and everyone’s going to keep on walking anyway, like you’ll always be listening to music, always going to be on your phone.”

The bill was deferred Wednesday. We’ll be keeping an eye to see how this unfolds.