'My Telkom fraud nightmare' - clients desperate to cancel are easy victims

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Desperation makes you vulnerable to being scammed - and that is what's been happening to some Telkom customers who have spent months trying to cancel their contracts.

Opportunistic fraudsters have been preying on those who have gone on to Telkom's Facebook page to find out why their cancellation requests have not been actioned.

One of the victims‚ Carmen Liebenberg‚ thought she had hit rock bottom when she was blacklisted by Telkom for nonpayment of a line that she had repeatedly cancelled - but then she discovered that the fraudster who had posed as a helpful Telkom agent had taken out a loan in her name.

Liebenberg - who moved from Cape Town to Durban last July - is one of thousands of South Africans who've been trying by all means to get Telkom to process their service cancellation notifications.

When her application to cancel her Cape Town line was not processed‚ she asked Telkom to transfer the line to her new Durban address. That worked‚ but only for three days before the line went dead. Again she submitted a cancellation request‚ and got confirmation that it had been done.

But last month when Liebenberg checked her credit status she discovered that Telkom had continued to hold her financially liable for that account.

"That's when I began desperately e-mailing and calling Telkom and posting on their Facebook page to get this resolved."

She thought it was her lucky day when an agent calling herself Susan popped up‚ said she'd been assigned her job card and then moved the conversation over to WhatsApp.

"I did think that was a bit unusual‚ but I've done that in my own business‚ and I was desperate for help‚ so I went along with it‚" Liebenberg told TimesLIVE.

"Susan" then asked her to resend her ID‚ three months' bank statements and other personal information‚ which she did.

It was only when a genuine member of what Telkom calls its "social media special forces team" contacted Liebenberg that she realised it was a scam.

"As a result of Telkom's absolute ineptitude‚ not only have I had to spend hours and hours on this‚ but I've had to take time off work to go to the police station‚ I am in the process of changing all my bank account details‚ I'm on the verge of a breakdown and my credit rating will take months to recover‚" she said.

"On Telkom's Facebook page‚ I see hundreds of complaints of the exact same nature but no response or acknowledgement of how lives are literally ruined as a result of their apathy."

TimesLIVE took up the issue of the cancellations backlog and claims that fraudsters have infiltrated their social media response platform‚ with Telkom's media office. No response was forthcoming‚ but Liebenberg was later contacted by a Telkom agent and her account has since been cancelled‚ with an undertaking to reverse the adverse listing on her credit record.

But she is now dealing with the ID fraud committed in her name.

She's applied for the loan to be reversed and approached the SA Fraud Prevention Service about their protection registration to stop the fraudster from acquiring new credit in her name.

"I have discovered that I am not the only one to have been taken in by fraudsters posing as Telkom agents on Telkom's Facebook page‚" she said. "Many others have reported this online."

*Telkom is regulated by the Independent Communications Authority of SA. To lodge a complaint about Telkom's failure to act on a cancellation request‚ go to www.icasa.org.za

GET IN TOUCH: You can contact Wendy Knowler for advice with your consumer issues via email: consumer@knowler.co.za or on Twitter: @wendyknowler.