Identity Theft: How I Spent My Weekend

Recently I bought a new laptop from Dell. It is normal procedure for Dell to call its customers a few weeks after a purchase to do a follow-up: is it working normally? Are you satisfied? At that point, they make a pitch to upgrade your warranty package, to cover more accidental damage or perhaps to cover you an extra year.

I'm used to their sales program, since this was my third Dell computer. Honestly, I've never had one problem with my Dell machines; I've been happy. On Saturday morning, when the guy called from Dell, I was actually suckered in to upgrading my coverage warranty to include accidental damage. The man quoted a price to me, and then asked me confirm my personal information, including my mother's maiden name and my SSN. He gave me an order number and assured me I would receive an email confirmation.

However, I never received the email. As time passed, I started to worry that it could have been some sort of phishing scam. One the one hand, he knew all the details of my Dell account, so perhaps he was legitimate. On the other hand, I gave a lot of personal data and had nothing to show for it.

I contacted Dell to verify the purchase order number, and that took six phone calls, three hours, and countless customer service reps. Finally I got verification, as well as the email I should have received on Saturday. But the extra two years of accidental damage warranty wasn't worth the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach all weekend that my information was compromised.

Final observation: Dell computers may be satisfactory, but their customer service program is worthless.
Ariel Rainey