I just received a letter from Avaya informing of the theft of an employee’s laptop that may contain my personally identifiable information (PII). The letter suggests that I contact one of Equifax, Experian or TransUnionCorp to have a fraud alert placed on my credit file. If you contact one, they will allegedly automatically contact the other two.
While I’m glad to have received the notification so I can take action before something bad happens, I wish Ross Senholzi, Director, Finance, (or more likely, one of the people in his group) had spent a few more minutes proofreading the letter. One glaring error in the letter is the URL for filing a complaint with the FTC. Somehow I don’t think that www.consumer.gov/idtehft (sic) is the correct URL. Unless, of course, the people managing the website at the FTC can’t spell “theft” either. At least this is an obvious mistake that virtually everyone will correct if they type it into a browser.
A far worse error is an incorrect number for Experian. The correct number is 888-397-3742, not 800-397-3742. In Avaya’s defense, lots of other people get this wrong, too. Search on “800-397-3742” and you will find a lot of sites listing this as the Experian fraud alert line. But they could have at least tried calling the number once.
If you call 800-397-3742, you get an amazingly bad DTMF app. After a welcome message “Hello and thank you for calling” that never mentions Experian, you are presented with a one choice menu, “To hear how we can easily help repair your credit by removing negative or erroneous items from your credit report, please press 1 now”. If you don’t do anything, the prompt repeats. A few seconds later, the app hangs up on you.
Here’s the rub, though. If you do press 1, you get a sales pitch from the “Consumer Information Bureau” for a paid service to repair your credit record. If you press 0 to try to reach an agent, the app hangs up on you. The owner of this number appears to be some other company that has latched on to the fact that many websites have the wrong phone number for Experian. A reverse lookup on 888-397-3742 returned Experian as the owner of the number. A reverse lookup on 800-397-3742 returned nothing.
This is very, very bad.