Whistleblowers claim Cox Communications sales reps created fake customer accounts
ARLINGTON, Va. (ABC7) —
When's the last time you took a good look at your cable bill?
A whistleblower claims some sales representatives at Cox Communications created bogus customer accounts to line their own pockets.
Speaking only to the I-Team, two whistleblowers are convinced some Cox Communications sales reps in Northern Virginia are cashing in by signing up customers for services they didn't authorize. Why? To reach monthly bonuses of $12,000 or more.
"How far they're going for a commission payout, to affect thousands of people, it's a heinous, greedy act," said former Cox Communications employee Anna Wilkinson.
Wilkinson, a former sales rep, claims to have notified her bosses at Cox but says nothing changed.
Internal documents show, in some cases, extra services were added to Cox accounts without customer knowledge which increased their bills.
Wilkinson has filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Virginia State Attorney General's Office.
"The customer never consented, the customer had no clue that had five to sometimes seven accounts in their name," adds Wilkinson.
Wilkinson claims in her attorney general complaint she saw hundreds of social security numbers unethically used for account tampering and says some sales reps used a black book filled with personal customer information.
"Hundreds and hundreds of social security numbers, along with people's first and last names, their address, birthdays," said Wilkinson.
A current Cox employee who requested anonymity, says adding services without customer authorization is a common practice.
"Over in the Northern Virginia area it is very large especially towards the end of the month," said “Roger,” who is currently employed with Cox Communications.
Here's how sources told ABC7 News the fake accounts are set up — You have sales reps knowing who moves in and out of apartments. So they set up multiple accounts starting with one apartment like "Apartment 241." Then, another fake account in 540 and Apartment 352. All the fake accounts are then placed under one person's name that use to live in Apartment 449.
The unnamed source who is a current Cox Communications employee says, "Let's say he sold them cable and internet and added the phone to the service. That's three sales. Move that person 4 times that's 12 sales. If you do that 10 times that's 120 sales you have over 90 percent of your quota already done."
Cox Communications president Patrick Esser wouldn't talk on camera but a company spokesman responded:
"We have stringent ethical and privacy standards that all employees are required to abide by. In instances where those standards are not adhered to, we take immediate action that can result in employee terminations. If there is a situation where a customer’s personally identifiable information is believed to have been compromised, we notify the customer and work with them to rectify. Cox has fraud alert measures in place and have taken other steps to help prevent this from happening. Nonetheless, like many companies, we have had isolated instances of employees not living up to our standards of behavior. Recently we learned of a small number of employees in Virginia who violated our policies. A thorough investigation occurred and those employees have since been terminated. An internal audit was also conducted ensuring that no customers’ personally identifiable information was compromised. We take these matters very seriously, and remain committed to protecting the safety of our customers’ information through our business policies and practices.
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"A lot of these supervisors and managers are actually in other states as well, so we don't know if this is happening nationally,” says Anna Wilkinson.
How do you protect yourself?
- Check your cable bill on a regular basis for any additional services you didn't authorize.
- Ask your cable provider how they protect your private information.
- If you have a major issue, file a complaint with your state's attorney general's office.