UPDATE 1/14/11: Probably since I tweeted to @ProtectMyID for a second time, someone stopped by and left a comment. I responded with my phone number via email and someone called…just to check to see if everything had been resolved.
Hmm…no apology. No explanation as to how this happened. Just a sort of collective shrug of the shoulders from these Experian folks. My post headline and post content stand.
When I had my wallet stolen on a family trip in 2004, I was pleased to have the big three credit companies be there for me to protect my credit. Experian was the one I used to put my account on a “hold” so that any company issuing credit to someone in my name would first have to call me. I’ve always thought Experian was trustworthy and a top notch company…until this week.
On Sunday December 26th I received an email from Experian’s “ProtectMyID” service. It started off with,
“Thank you for ordering ProtectMyID.com.
For your security, additional information was required to confirm your personal information and activate your account. At this time, please call us so that we may provide you with immediate access to your membership. You will be asked to answer a few questions to confirm your identity before you are provided with access.“
Being pretty savvy when it comes to phishing scams—and always double and triple checking to make certain anyone emailing me is legitimate—I checked them out thoroughly. ProtectMyID was, in fact, an Experian company and I decided I’d check up on them when I returned from our holiday trip.
Then today I received an official looking letter whihc made it clear that there was SOME sort of account activity. I launched a call to customer service and it turns out they were “fishing” (vs. “phishing”) for new customers since they were following up on my 2004 connection with them! The woman on customer service clearly positioned this as, “Well, you were a former customer” and that “you must’ve signed up at some point” both of which are complete bullshit.
This is the worst, most egregious unethical and misleading marketing I’ve EVER SEEN DONE BY A MAJOR COMPANY! Of course, it’s impossible to connect with someone by phone (like “Doug Sash, VP of Customer Care”) since they have no voicemail system that’s obvious. Experian ought to be embarrassed and this is precisely the sort of thing that a State Attorney General should take up and stop…immediately.
Here is the email and letter. Read them and you tell me if this isn’t misleading: