Tuesday, August 21, 2007

watch out for "Residential Email" fraud

You know how I said the telemarketers are claiming I actually requested that they call me? They may be right...not that I personally requested it, but that *somebody* is using my name and information to request information.

Just got my phone bill, and wondered why it was more than usual. Found a charge for $14.95 + $0.75 fees/taxes on the very last page, charged "as a service to the company identified above". That company? ESBI, Enhanced Services Billing Inc., on behalf of "Residential Email, LLC".

Call up the ESBI number provided on the bill, get a message saying they are "transferring me to the provider of the services". Spoke to Jane [supervisor name is Riva], and when I questioned the charge, she started giving me a spiel about what Residential Email provides.

I stopped her. Told her I didn't need to hear it, I had no interest in the service and that it was a fraudulent charge. She said that her records showed that I visited a website offering $1000 in coupons and agreed to the service in order to receive the coupons.

I told her that the information was received through fraudulent means, and I demanded that the service be cancelled and the $15.70 credited immediately. When I mentioned contacting the Better Business Bureau to report both ESBI and Residential Email, very interestingly, she had a script ready to go: "Ma'am, there is no need for further action, as you will be receiving a credit for the amount and your account has been cancelled." She repeated it a few times throughout the call. Gee, convenient that they would have that option covered...

She also had a routine to cancel the account [well, she claims it is cancelled...we'll see what happens], said that the amount would be refunded within 1-2 billing cycles, and when asked, said that I should pay my phone bill minus the $15.70 [though I am going to call AT&T to (1) report the fraud, (2) make sure they know that I will be underpaying the bill, and (3) ask that they prohibit any third-parties from charging my phone bill]. Again, convenient that she had a process all ready to go.

When I checked out the Residential Email site [not going to link to it], I see this:

Residential Email´s™ authorization to provide and bill its services is obtained by way of your electronic signature. Once submitted, this electronic order constitutes an electronic letter of agency authorized by your electronic signature in accordance with Residential Email´s™ specific terms and conditions. Residential Email´s™ reliance on your electronic signature, as obtained herein, is done pursuant to the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and the electronic Signatures in Global and National Transactions Act. Both laws specifically preempt state laws that recognize only paper records or handwritten signatures.
Okay, so there is a slight chance that the company itself is above-board, and some data-mining scum had my phone, address, and name on a list. But I'm still pissed. At them, for accepting electronic signatures so easily. At AT&T, for blindly letting a third-party add on to my phone bill without contacting me. And I'm pissed because I have no idea where else I have been added to lists, so I'm going to have to be even more vigilant and put up with more telemarketing calls who claim I have requested their services.

Damn it. Grrr. Grumble.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your info on Residential E-mail. I just found out they had latched onto my account and did a web search and your blog came up. I also threatened to contact the BBB and they are refunding all my money. Thanks!

stacey said...

Glad it helped! I also contacted AT&T [my phone company] and had them remove the charge. Unfortunately, they won't let me block or pre-approve charges, so it's up to the consumer to keep a vigilant eye on our charges. I still find it ridiculous that third parties can add charges to my phone bill without my explicit approval...

Alison said...

Thank you! I just spent 2 hours and 4 phone calls trying to get to the bottom of this. Incredible that this is 'legal'. Your explanantion was a huge help!

stacey said...

Very welcome, Alison...glad it helped!

Tamas said...

I have gone through word-for-word the same conversation with ESBI about the same issue. Now I have found your post and I am amazed about this. The person who signed up for my account used myname@hushmail.com email address to sign up. I think you have the same suspicion that I have; maybe residential email, or one of their associates signed up for all of us. I am going to report this to the cyber crimes division of the FBI. I suggest you all do the same. If enough of us make a noise, maybe they will act.

Dennis said...

Well, I just experienced the identical scam. After speaking with ESBI and getting the same pitch about $1000 dollars worth of coupons and the same response when I mentioned contacting the state Attorney General's consumer fraud division, It's apparent to me this is just a scam. Many people would not notice the $14.95 third party billing. When I contacted AT&T they said they had no control over third party billings, they had to pass them on. I agree you should contact the FBI cybercrimes and your state AG's office to make a complaint.

stacey said...

It's incredible [and disgusting] just how widespread this is. I can't help wondering just how much revenue they are pulling in, $14.95 at a time...

Anonymous said...

They just nailed me, too! I don't see how the phone company can allow these fraudulent charges to go through in the first place. I never signed up for any $1,000 worth of coupons either. It seems to me like some sort of phishing or identity theft scam. I'm leery about giving them more information than they already have.

Anonymous said...

Got my esbi charge too, this one from orbit telecom for voice mail. Well, armed with what I found on the internet I had a story prepared: "4 years ago my entire family was killed in a plane crash, I am the only one left so it is impossible for anyone to have signed up for this service..." This got the typical scripted "We are sorry, we will be stopping your service and refunding your money. I will have to wait and see if that happends!

Anonymous said...

I just got scammed today on this Residential E-mail, LLC thing: $15.78 billed to AT&T who says "it's not their fault." Apparently somebody uses fictitious (not your own) e-mail address and via Internet arranges this thing. Maybe they pick names from the phone book? I suggested AT&T confirm any "outside billing" request before allowing charges to be processed and put on my AT&T phone bill. After pressing the matter, AT&T said it will send me an "opt out" form that I can sign and mail back to AT&T requesting that NO outside company billing charges are allowed on my account. I highly recommend people contact AT&T or other phone service provider and do this.

stacey said...

When I talked with AT&T, they told me that "regulations" didn't allow them to limit third-part charges...sounds like maybe they are starting to listen to all of us. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I just saw the same scam of Residential e-mail on my Bill and called ATT who advised to contact the number on the Bill. I can't believe ATT won't take responsibility for the Bill that they charged me. I went through the same routine and hopefully i'll get the refund soon. Where do i report this to?

Anonymous said...

I posted Anonymous on 4/22. In fact, the opt out only pertains to slamming or changing of LD service. It does NOT pertain to other 3rd party billing called "cramming." I wrote the FCC and suggested that 3rd party billing of any kind not be allowed without prior express WRITTEN consent of the individual assigned the telephone number. It's apparent that this "electronic signature" thing advertised by Residential Email is a crock!!!! Again, Some individual somewhere used hponey@gmail.com but also used my name and phone number to get some BS coupons etc. mailed to them. This has got to stop. Who's in charge of our government? How can the FCC or FTC allow this to happen? This isn't the Roman Empire, but things seem to be going downhill fast!

stacey said...

Ugh...that's annoying.

When I talked with AT&T, I asked that they at the very least require a phone call to the number being billed to confirm the extra charge. That would seem to make sense to me, since they HAVE THE FRICKIN' NUMBER right there. That would solve a lot of these issues off the bat.

I can't believe that their administrative costs handling these complaints and reversals aren't adding up. Guess they just aren't tracking them [or that it's just not worth it to them].

Thanks for all the input, everyone...keep it coming.

Ken said...

I just got scammed with this Residentail Email fraud. I'm a Cincinnati Bell customer and they were very good about it after I talked Billing Options department. I had accidently paid for a February bill and was being billed for March & April on my current bill. That was for 14.95 per month. The first call made to my phone company got me the usual, "call that company and ask for a credit and get the account cancelled", which I did and got the same responses from Residential billing noted in earlier comments. My second call to Cincinnati Bell Billing options was great. Talked to a Teresa there and she credited back the Feb. portion already paid and the took of the 2 months of additional charges.

Anonymous said...

Stacey and friends: I received the following message from AT&T today:
"I have also placed an order to add a block for the third party billers. This order will complete on May 6, 2008. You will probably receive an email or an automated call regarding this order."

Bottom line: Write At&T and demand that all 3rd party billing be prohibited, that henceforth you will not be responsible for any 3rd party billing charges placed on your account.

Cheng said...

Thank you so much for your post!! This happened to me today and I'm glad I did a search for "Residential Email" and your post was the first to come up in the results. I can't believe that this happened to you almost a year ago and it's *still* happening. It is so ridiculous. I haven't had a chance to call AT&T or Residential Email but I will be sure to do it soon. Do you know if other telephone carriers allow third party billing? Thanks again!

stacey said...

Very glad it helped! It blows my mind that this is so wide spread, especially with so many of us contacting the FCC and Better Business Bureau. ESBI must be making a boatload of money on this scam, if they can cover their costs of dealing with all us unhappy types.

Not sure about other carriers...looking forward to seeing if others have any insight on that.

Has anyone else had any luck getting AT&T to block third-party billing? Maybe we *are* being heard, at least by AT&T...

stacey said...

Well, I submitted a request to AT&T to block third-party billing, and here is the reply I received [both in voicemail and email]:

"Thank you for your email in regard to blocking Third Party Billing. I apologize for the problems you have experienced with Third Party Billing and I understand your concern. I will be happy to assist you.

I am sorry there is not a Third Party Billing block. Third Party Billing charges are normally charged by something that was done online. Before, submitting your information online please read the terms and conditions of the product first.

AT&T has no authority or jurisdiction over the billing practices, rates or adjustments of other service providers. Any questions or disputes on the charges billed by companies other than AT&T should be directed to those service providers for resolution."

I replied, saying that someone fraudulently used my email address and phone number, and that multiple others have been caught this same way as well.

I asked that she pass on the request that AT&T implement a 'block third-party billing' policy, given the ease with which some unscrupulous vendors use online sign-ups.

I don't expect an answer, but I had to try...

stacey said...

A follow-up: just got a call from Julie at AT&T, acknowledging my reply and saying that she would most definitely pass my concerns on.

She was very professional and very sympathetic, and said that as both a long-term member of the industry and as a consumer, she agrees with what we are saying and has the same concerns herself.

I've got to say, I'm impressed with how AT&T has handled this today. I got a phone call and email response within 2 hours of contacting them, and then got the follow-up call less than an hour after I replied to their first email.

Nicely done, AT&T...I appreciate the attention. Now let's hope that everyone's voice is heard: folks, if you get caught with this, please send email or a letter to AT&T [or your phone company] asking for third-party blocking, or at least require explicit approval called in FROM THE BILLING NUMBER. Ask them to pass on the request, to add your voice to the growing numbers who are getting caught in this odd loophole.

Anonymous said...

I was told by Residential Email employee Renee Davis that I allegedly registered and agreed to their "services" via mediawhiz.com, which is an internet advertising services firm ... meaning that Residential Email has identified mediawhiz.com as being responsible for this so called agreement and electronic signature.

Residential email refunded charges to me taking me at my word that I did not sign up and said that there was no need for further action ... but sent me an email alleging that sign up involves the provision of a whole bunch of information ... essentially saying that they think I did sign up. If they are so confident of the legality of the transaction why cave so easily. Well, I know I did not (and would never) provide some of that info such as mother's maiden name and some of the info they cited was incorrect.

Given that I did not register, Residential email and/or Mediawhiz must be benefiting from someone fraudulently entering data and/or engages in some datamining.

BTW an electronic signature is valid for commerce but you still have to provide it knowingly. There still has to be a real agreement.

Halimah said...

I'm happy to find your blog! I just spent 2 hours on the phone with AT&T reps and Supervisors trying to deal with what, in my view, are fraudlent 3rd Party Charges, on of which is from ESBI *fancy that?).

The one thing that gripes me more than the unwarranted 3rd Party charges is how the AT&T reps kept referring to FCC rules which allow this kind of nonsense to happen. I asked for a copy of the billings and was told that AT&T 'dosen't have access to that information! (WHAT??) And that 3rd Parties "bill AT&T, we pay them and then bill the customer!" --- a 5-Card Molly if I ever heard one!

To top it off, i talked to another AT&T rep. who told me to "not feel like the Lone Ranger" this kind of thing is happening all the time! The customers are going to have to join together to fight this kind of fraudulent billing. I figuer that all parties involved in the scam are benefiting if nothing more that having their "accounts receivable" ledger look good!

I'm going to try to stay on this but it would not suprise me if other such "charges" show up on my bill next month! If they do FCC, FTC, PUC, and the State of California, the Attorney General, etc, etc, etc, will be hearing from me'

Thanks for the site. Keep up the good work.

stacey said...

Hi Halimah --

Thanks for the kind words...I'm glad this page helped. It amazes me that AT&T can still be playing the "our hands are tied, there's nothing we can do" game. I'm hoping that the more of us who complain and call attention to it, the less the phone companies will be able to ignore us.

Not that I'm holding my breath, but I refuse to just sit still and accept it...and it's awesome that so many other people aren't willing to roll over and take it as well.

Cheers and thanks again!

-- stacey

Anonymous said...

Just had a similar experience on my latest phone bill. One charge from ESBI for ConferenceCallSVC a 14.95 Fee for email A Day Fee. Another charge from a company called ILD for US Credit Find Inc. a 9.99 fee for USCreditrepair monthly charge. Called both companies and got the same canned response about it taking 1 - 3 billing cycles to remove the charges.....we'll see. Contacted my service provider, Verizon and they take no responsibility but did offer to block 3rd party billing and dispute the charges. The 2 companies I contacted, ESBI and ILD both gave me the email address and home address for where the charges were generated. It is in my neighborhood, all they did was enter my phone number. Thanks for the blog, will be contacting the FCC, BBB, AG, etc.. to report this fraud.

Anonymous said...

If you were charged on your local or residential phone bill for third party billing services and subscriptions that you never authorized, share your phone bill complaints with other consumers:


You can also report unauthorized phone bill charges to class action lawyers:


Mike K. said...

Good comments from all.

I, too, was crammed by the ILD / US Credit Find duo last month. A very polite and business-like rep at ILD promised to reverse the $9.99 charge and even gave me a confirmation number - when I asked for it. We'll see what happens with my next AT&T bill.

If the above turns out to be horsepuckey, my next step will be the FCC, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the FTC.

FCC - http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/cramming.html

FTC - http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/cmplanding.shtm

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your helpful explanations. After contacting the two companies who appeared on my bill, I contacted AT&T. They put a hold on those items to give time for the credits to appear. I asked the ATT person how to block these enhanced services and she said that ATT could not do this, so I pressed her and asked why ATT would participate in such fraudulent practices, and if indeed the business was profitable. She stated it was not profitable, but I suspect the money trail shows differently, otherwise they wouldn't hassle with this.

stacey said...

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment and let us all know just how widespread this is. It still amazes me just how prevalent this fraud is, and how so many agencies and companies are just turning a blind eye to it.

Keep posting, everyone...and thanks.

Tom in Delaware said...


I just talked with Verizon about the same charges, as well as one from a company called ILD, which looks like an EBSI clone. They said that they would reject their request for payment, and I also authorized a no-payment agreement with Verizon in which they will not accept charges to my Verizon account. Tom in Delaware

stacey said...

That's awesome, Tom...big thumbs up to Verizon. Is that no-payment agreement specific only to ILD, or is it valid for *any* third-party charge requests to your Verizon account?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having this blog. This is now happening to me via a company called OAN Services, Inc. They have attached a 19.95 per month charge for long distance. Supposedly they will refund the money which remains to be seen. I had never even heard of them before. Since this happened, the phone rings constantly and whoever it is hangs up. I presume these calls are somehow connected.
AT&T told me sorry all we can do is dispute charges. She said if I don't like the system, complain to the government. I filed with the FTC and intend to go to the local Attorney General and federal FCC as well. Apparently the FCC made a ruling allowing this to happen. We need to complain at the state level and at least make the phone companies confirm that changes have been made.

Anonymous said...

Same scam got me, AT&T couldn't help other than direct me to ESBI. BTW, ESBI is just one of the names operated by the "billing aggregator" as they are called. Check out the following site to see how far reaching they are: http://www.billview.com. If you really want to see the person(s)behind Residential Email, go to the Nevada Secretary of State website (http://sos.state.nv.us/), select Business Entity Search, enter Residential Email, find it is owned by Nexteb Media, search on it, then find the real owners. Get the first guy's name and search Google and you will find many of this person's other ventures. Very interesting stuff!

Anonymous said...

Got the add-on re residentail email
yesterday on ATT bill. I already got Reservation Reward add-on this year on creditcard bill and last year I got a higher, different plan of Sprint cell service by an eager salesrep of Sprint. I report everything to FCC and BBB, for me this is a form of ID theft. I have never used my mother's maidenname because it is too hard to spell, so they are all lying when they say they have it on file.
Thanks for letting me vent, I just wish someone could put a stop to these scams.

Anonymous said...

For May through September 2008 I had an charge for 14.95 on my AT&T bill for "enhanced services." I couldn't figure out what it was for and called AT&T--or at least I thought I was calling AT&T. I called the number listed on the bill under "Enhanced Services." I got an operator but it didn't sound like AT&T -- it was very noisy and I could hardly hear the guy. He couldn't look up the charge and asked me what it said on the last page of my bill. I looked and it said: " Residential Email, LLC monthly service fee." I said what's that for? He said he would have to transfer me directly to Residential Email. I then said, wait a minute, are you AT&T? He said no. So I said, thank you, I'll call AT&T.

AT&T was very nice and gave me a credit for all the charges. I told him I did not authorize this charge and have no idea what it is for. I certainly haven't been using the service! AT&T said that Residential Email might try and collect directly from me. So I asked, well how did the charge get on there in the first place? AT&T said the company called them and told them I had authorized the charge and "by law they have to add it, even though they don't even know what it is for!" AT&T also said that the company apparently gets my phone number from something I do/did on the web, but I have NO recollection of answering a survey or anything else that would have remotely authorized this charge. I'm suspicious of the whole thing and filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office. I urge all the other folks who have gotten scammed to file a complaint too. You can do it online at: https://www.consumer.ago.mo.gov/

Anonymous said...

It sounds like all of you have had much better luck with your contact with AT&T than I have experienced. I contacted the residential email service provider and they told me they would not issue a credit, but would issue a check. This started in July 2008. To date I have not received a check. Now, they are saying that they are researching the problem and will get back to me. Have not heard a word only the same scripted nonsense. Secondly, there was an additional charge on my phone for for which I can never get through to cancel, only leave a message. AT&T also indicated they could not put a block on my third party charges and until they discontinue their relationship with these so called service providers, I will continue to be billed. My only option is to dispute the charges on a monthly basis, if I do not hear back from ILD teleservices! What a crock. Thanks for the information on the attorney general, BBB, etc. I will also be contacting the local TV station that looks into these issues on behalf of the consumer. Thanks for the blog. It is somewhat comforting to know I am not the only one experiencing this time consuming FRAUD!

Anonymous said...

We just discovered two new charges this month under the Enhanced Billing Services section: one for Residential Email LLC ($14.95) and another for Advance Benefits Inc ($19.95). AT&T has put a pending on the charges, but cannot/sill not cancel them. When we called Residential Email they Hung Up on us when we told them we wanted the charges reversed!

Very Important! Check your credit report ASAP! In our case, the new fraudulent billings occured at the same time as many attempts to purchase car insurance and or obtain a car loan etc. were made in our name. The credit report showed something like 26 different checks on our credit during the day or two around when the charges were made.

We have filed a police report on the ID theft, and are working to file with FTC. Next up will be registered letters to AT&A, ESBI, Residential Email and Advance Benefits demanding that charges be dropped.

Unfortunately the phone calls are not getting us anywhere.

Thanks Stacey and everyone else for providing this information.

stacey said...

Ugh...what a mess. Sorry you are caught in it...big thanks for giving the heads up on the credit side of things.

Good luck...

Anonymous said...

I too have just been hit with a $14.95 bogus charge on my phone bill by Residential Email by way of ESBI. I have been doing some internet research and see a suit was brought against them in 2001 by the FTC. You can find a link to the complaint and news release here: http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/enhancedbilling.shtm

I am going to contact the BBB and state's attorney general because it seems that if they were told to stop doing this in 2001, they should not still be getting away with it in 2008.

A Dr. Leonard Saltzman also brought suit against them for a charge that occurred in 1997. He spent eight years locked in legal battle with them.

These people need to be stopped.

Anonymous said...

Here is a strange instance to add to the rest of these accounts... the reverse of the complaints just happened to us. I had a Verizon phone number in my name up until July 7,2007. Then I switched to Comcast and received a new number also in my name. On 12-30-2008 my boyfriend who lives with me received a check through "The Refund Processing Center" on behalf of "Residential Email,LLC" in the amount of $44.85 (3 x $14.95). The note that came with the check states "Enclosed is your refund for $44.85 related to your Residential Email account for phone number xxx-xxxx(my old number, in my name). This also confirms that your account has been closed and you will receive no further email communication from us. Sincerely, Customer Service Department Residential Email 800-430-6314" Uh, what the heck is going on, I mean it's always nice to receive a refund but how confused is this company !!! I went back and checked all my Verizon bills (thank goodness I still have them!) and there were no charges from any third party. We tried the number yesterday but got frustrated just waiting for a human to answer and we hung up. Should we just cash the check? It sounds like they tried to scam us and it may have back fired. I would be laughing if the whole state of it all wasn't so sickeningly sad!

Anonymous said...

Do NOT cash that check. Look at it carefully. Scam artists will have some fine print on a check that says "by cashing this check you argree to XXX". If you really feel you must get the "free money" seek some low cost legal aid (usually about $20 per session) and ask their opinion. It seems expensive to spend so much to get a little, but in the end it will be worth it, believe me.

Anonymous said...

ESBI hit me again. This is the second time!! I called ESBI, which sent me to Residential Email, yada yada.

I called verizon ( my home phone provider ), they have put a block on my account so that no outside vendor can bill me. Hopefully, this will help with the problem. It seems like Verizon will block charges, where AT&T has a problem with that.

Don't think I'll get my $15 back.

Good luck all

Phil said...

Without repeating all the same identical details, I'll just say that they're still out there doing it (as it just happened to me)...unfreakinbelievable.

stacey said...

Crazy that this is still an issue...you'd think after all the complaints to AT&T, the BBB, and the FCC, we'd have more recourse than simply battling it on our own, case-by-case.

Thanks again to all who have shared their troubles, advice, and experiences...appreciate the time you've taken to give your story.

Anonymous said...

Residential Email, LLC showed up on my bill this month. I called to have them credit and cancel. The person I spoke on the phone with kept asking me for more information. I said "You have enough to get on my phone bill without my authorization," did not give them any more. They said they would credit and cancel, as noted above 1-2 billing cycles.

I told them I would call AT&T and they did not want me to, same as above.

I called AT&T anyway the next day and they removed "ESBI" charges from my bill. Service agent said the charges might show up again next month, because they bill in advance, to call again if they do.

re:Nextweb Media - owners of Resdential Email and the 38,064 related companies. Their corporate officers are ITAI KATHEIN and EYAL YECHEZKELL, both listed at 8291 St. Peters Rd, Suite 2400, Ft Lauderdale, FL 33324.

The Registered Agent for Nextweb Media is THE CORPORATION TRUST COMPANY OF NEVADA.

Many of the officers of that firm list 111 8th Ave NY, 13th Floor as their address, which if you look it up, is occupied by C T Corporation System, a "foreign corporation." What a surprise.

more info here:

Anonymous said...

Update: re:Nextweb Media - owners of Resdential Email and the 38,064 related companies. Their corporate officers are ITAI KATHEIN and EYAL YECHEZKELL, both listed at 8291 St. Peters Rd, Suite 2400, Ft Lauderdale, FL 33324. ...This is a phony address!

A link to settlement with EDN, another Kathein/Yechezkell's enterprises. News reports indicated this settlement would cost EDN $1M, but that is not likely for various reasons. Also note, per the settlement, EDN did not have to pay refunds unless requested by the victims.

Another link to a recent blog entry that claims 99/100 cramming victims just pay the bill, most are not aware of the crime. Blogger gives some advice for fighting crammers and other helpful links.

One link is to a story about a convicted crammer who received a $34.5M fine from the FTC. I am skeptical the fine was ever paid, after appeals and the inevitable bankruptcy filings. The story says assets worth less than $0.5M were seized. The money is gone, transferred out of US.

ESBI and their lot are middlemen 3rd party billers, legally insulated but morally complicit.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered the Residential Email charge on my Verizon bill.
People: This can not be!!! We get ripped off and Verizon (and other providers) close their eyes????!
I reported this to the FBI cyber crime division:
It's an easy online process.
PLEASE REPORT YOUR CASE AS WELL. The more reports we file the faster we can get rid of this scum!!!

Anonymous said...

This has been very informative. Thanks for posting in the first place Stacey!

This month I received an unauthorized $14.95 monthly charge from "Residential Email" via the bill aggregator "ESBI". I called the toll-free number for ESBI appearing on my Verizon bill (888-295-3724) and was asked by a bot to confirm the phone number I was calling about. The bot then automatically transferred my call to a Residential Email rep named "Abbey". I explained the charges to my Verizon bill were not authorized. After she asked me for my name and address, she began to explain all the benefits of having an account with Residential Email. But I interrupted her and told her I wasn't interested, then again maintained the charges were unauthorized. At that point, she told me she would cancel my account, credit the existing charges, and then asked me if I wanted to provide an email address to receive confirmation (I provided one of my secondary addresses).

After that, I called Verizon and asked them to block 3rd-party charges. The Verizon rep was very friendly and enabled the "bill block" for my account. She also made a note in my account to explain why I wasn't going to pay the ESBI/Residential-Email charges. I was told Verizon would wait 90-days for ESBI to inform them of the credit - that way I'd have a few billing cycles of time to retake action in case Residential Email didn't follow through.

In hindsight, I should have asked Residential Email for a confirmation number - the Verizon rep could have put that into my account note. I would recommend others having this problem to do so.

One last thought ... I rarely ever enter my real home phone number into an online registration site unless it is reputable (e.g. Amazon.com, etc.). I do recall shopping online for a new long-distance phone provider a few months ago (I ended up selecting a very excellent provider, ECG -Enhanced Communications Group). I recall using a third-party website to search for LD providers and recall entering my real home phone. I'm wondering if that search site was the one that Residential Email used to snag my info. Unfortunately, I don't recall the URL for that search site and its no longer in my internet browser's cache.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this SCAM is STILL going on... I just received my AT&T bill and lo and behold a charge for "Residential Email". I've read all the posts here, and took some of your advises - sent a complaint to the FCC and the Calif. Attorney General's office. Also called AT&T about this bogus charge!
Thank you for this blog!!!!!!

stacey said...

Very welcome...I'm really glad I made my original post about this. There's been a lot of good info and commiseration about this frustrating issue...thanks all!

Tommy said...

Just got my bill today and that got charged $16.22 for the same thing mentioned above. I called AT&T to have 3rd party billing blocked, and called Residential Email to cancel my account and asked for reimbursement. I'm so annoyed that this happened in the first place and even more annoying having to wait around 30 minutes on the phone for both companies.

Barb Todd said...

We(a corporation)were contacted today by Qwest asking what we knew about this $14.95 charge. We have a rather large phone bill and had not noticed the charge which began in August 2007. They provided us with Orbit's phone number 1-800-263-0206. Then began three calls to hopefully resolve this. Call number one: They couldn't help me because the charge was not against our main number. Hung up tracked down the number to one that is part our hunt list. Call number two: Now they could find file. Service supposedly requested by someone never part of our company. Disputed charge said they would cancel service and refund after I told them exactly how much we had been charged and when the account with them was first opened. Hung up back to the files found the first bill from them. Call number three: they initially offered to refund three months, I said 18, put on hold, then offered 10 months, I said 18, put on hold. They finally agreed to 18, we'll see. They are supposed to credit through Qwest. Don't know if it will be on March 4th Qwest bill, but had better be on the April one. I will keep this site posted on the resolution.

This scam deserves some national publicity.

Anonymous said...

I just got nailed by ESBI on my Qwest phone bill. I called them immediately and (loudly) demanded they cancel the service and refund the $14.95 they charged. I was told I signed up by visiting their website - I responded (again loudly) that I had never visited their website. I demanded that they prove in writing how I signed up for this service. I kept repeating that they were to cancel this service and refund the money. The woman didn't bother with a script as far as I could tell, she just said she would cancel the service and send a check. I checked out the website - never been there. I found this blog and I think everyone tagged by these jerks should spread the word. I'm going to call Qwest tomorrow and at a minimum register a complaint. Then I think I'll notify the better business bureau that Qwest allows this crap to happen.

Anonymous said...

Same thing with me. AT&T this time. Same story that has been told many times already. Unreal they can keep doing this.

Anonymous said...

Just found out that Orbit Telecom put $14.95 on my Embarq bill. They said I signed up thru reminder.alarm.com. which I have never visited, and would not have signed up for this service because I use this phone line only for computer (DSL) service and a fax machine. They agreed to cancel and refund, but I am disputing and withholding the $14.95 from Embarq meanwhile. Conveniently I was in the process of cancelling this phone line anyway since I got laid off and won't be needing it...so they can't keep charging me anyway!

Anonymous said...

i was capable of getting the email charge removed, but cannot find the legitmate company for voicemail services. i have called esbi direct and was given an 18664731981 number to call--no one there, i have called orbit telecom. they tell me i am not on their roster. any additional numbers to call. i have two months of charges on my embarq phone bill, and again they said the whole webisite visit...yadayada, whatever...please post any other phone numbers to call thanks!!

ILD Teleservices said...

If your bill was processed by ILD and you don't recognize the charge, please contact us. We can help you and open an investigation with the merchant that originated the charge.

Please call ILD at (800) 637-4009.

Hours: Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. CST & Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST.

Or send an email to askild@ildmail.com.

Lori B said...

Thank you for your Blog post on this company, Residential Email.

On Mar 13, 2009, there was a charge for $14.95 on my ATT phone bill.

I contacted ATT to set a claim. The rep could not remove it. BUT....ATT lets you set a PASSWORD on your ATT acct so it can never happen again. You have to ASK to do this.

I then called Residential Email to have the acct closed and charges removed. The rep was willing to do so, and then started the spiel. I should have a credit in 1-2 billing cycles, and I did receive a Conf#. I am SO GLAD I read thru these comments to know what to expect.

NOW...the kicker...the charge, according to Residential Email, was approved by a fictional name my boyfriend has used for YEARS in the PHONE BOOK and for other things. SO...that PROVES this company goes thru phone listings and connects names w/phone companies. And then the phone companies go on the word of the 3rd party that YOU approved the charge!!!

I have reported Res EM to the FTC and MO Attorney General. BBB is next.

Check those bills!!!


Anonymous said...

Our father who is 87 years old and does not even have computer got scammed by this also. We contacted Residential Email and got the charges refunded. But because it appears AT&T is party to these scams (2nd scam against our father lately) we are going to switch him to a cellphone and cancel AT&T.

John Gordon said...

My elderly relatives are recent victims. They were whacked by both ESBI and "OAN Services".

I summarized what I learned in a blog post:


These are old scams, some of the operatives have been doing this for over 12 years. Lots of judgments, but not enough to make the business unprofitable.

AT&T is a passive accomplice that profits from these scams.

It's outrageous that the FCC can't put them out of business, but that fits with the general atmosphere of fraud that paralyzed the SEC, the FDA and led to AIG, etc.

We have a new government now, so maybe we'll see some action.

In the meantime, we should be going after AT&T.

Vicki said...

This just happened to me today. I called the phone company and they credited me. When I called ESBI, I got a sales pitch. I explained I never signed up for any such thing, and they said someone names Mary (not my name) had signed up with my number.

Then they said they needed more information from me in order to cancel my account, including my home address, and email address. I told them they signed me up with just a phone number, and they can cancel me with just a phone number!

I am reporting them to the attornet General's office.

Anonymous said...

I haven't call them yet - just received the bill. I am just wondering if AT&T was authorized by us to charge for anything outside their own service... Do they have it in our agreement with them? The matter is not as if they couldn't block it. I doubt that they have this right to charge. They... just charge.

Champ198 said...

I just reemed them a new one. They said one of my family members signed up for coupons on a web site. I asked why didn't they confirm this with me since I am the account owner? Also, how could they verify the authenticity of the person who signed up. I told them they they were going to remove this charge $14.95 + tax from my bill and they were going to offer an apology. After they cancelled this (they said), I told them I was going to contact my state department of revenue to make sure that they were indeed paying my state sales tax they had charged. I also mentioned the Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney General's office. They stopped me and and said there was no need to take further action that the charges would be refunded. They are a ripoff.

Champ198 said...

follow-up - I contacted my provider (AT&T) and they put a "Miscellaneous Third Party Block" on my account. This will prevent this type of thing in the future. The sorry part is that AT&T makes a small cut off of all the cramming, in addition to the scamming company.

The Barry's said...

Over the past couple of months I noticed my bill increased. I thought oh it must be 411 calls or an additional tax. Then today I said why have I been paying this (I know a little slow). Well guess what supposedly my 12 year old daughter signed up for this service. Yet they say they check all the info... maiden name, etc etc... Yea right... they tried to sell me on their services I said I don't think so. My daughter in February started getting weird sales calls and started getting subscriptions to baby magazines. Idiots I hate this crap. So has anyone ever received their credits? Just wondering if they really do the credits. - Christine

stacey said...

Thanks all for adding to the growing info on this page...I appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences and hints/tips/info with everyone.

Christine, for what it's worth, I called AT&T and told them it was a fraudulent charge, that I'd contacted the third party and they were going to refund the charge. I asked the AT&T rep to make a note on the case that I was going to underpay the bill by that same amount [so if the credit didn't come through right away, I wouldn't get dinged for not paying in full]. Everything worked out okay, so I got lucky...

Joel said...

What a small world. I was at work yesterday when our business manager and I found an added charge for $14.95 tacked on to our company's monthly AT&T statement. We checked out the whole thing online. Wow! When I arrived home and saw my own AT&T bill had arrived, I checked, and SURE ENOUGH, I too had fallen prey to Residential Email, LLC. However, thanks to this blog site, I am very well prepared to fight back. Thanks to all who contributed!

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Midwesterner said...

I contacted my state's attorney general in January. Now in May (yes, four months later) I got a letter saying the contacted ESBI and they can't locate my account to verify what happened, i.e. them putting a fradulent charge on my phone bill. I am making a copy of the e-mail ESBI sent to me promising my refund (which I did get on the next bill) and a copy of the original bill where they crammed me. This should be enough to jog ESBI's memory. As Stacey already stated, I can't believe these jerks still get away with this after a federal ruling has already been made in 2001. I will continue to fight the battle...

MartinD said...

I found the same $15.40 charge on my AT&T bill when I opened it on Saturday evening. I called ESBI immediately.

They said that Keith had set up the account. I don't even know anyone called Keith.

I phoned AT&T this morning. I got no help whatsoever. I just got very angry at their complicity in the scam. The customer comes last with AT&T.

I have just reported to


and quoted your site, among others.

Anonymous said...

Similar events on our Bill by ESBI.

Filed a complaint with..
SC State Utility Commissioner

also sent letter of complaint to...
Randall Stephenson (CEO ATT)
ATT Customer Advocacy
Several local new outlets (TV and Paper)

all letters explicitly implicate ATT as accessories to Fraud by knowingly doing business with these companies.

ATT agreed to reverse charges (after a serious fight with Damian in customer service, a coll to SE headquarter, followed by a call to the Dallas Corp Headquarters). Switching to Time Warner.

Bill said...

Another affected customer here (except my local telephone provider is Verizon but basically the same deal with the thrid party billing).
(Sorry I haveen't read this entire series of message so this might be old news but)....a couple of observations:

1) "Residential e-mail"s onwers are making a ton of money off all these fraudlent accounts; ESPECIALLY the ones that go unreported/unfixed.

2) Somebody is probably getting a real nice "bonus" for signing up all these new accounts.

3) ON my call to the service desk I was actually able to get the original email address that was used to set up 'my' new account - and it looks as real as a 3 dollar bill!!!
Thanks for the info !!


Anonymous said...

Just another sucker. Same old story. I noticed on my June phone bill from Quest a $14.95 charge from ESBI. I've apparently been paying this fee since Jan. 2008. (Look at your phone bills..! I never did & just paid it) The Qwest billing department said there was nothing they could do about it, nor will they block any 3 party billing from my phone number.

I then contacted ESBI, who transferred me to Residential Email..... The lady I spoke with demanded my Name, address & e-mail address. I asked why she would need this informaion since they have been billing me for the past 15 months, they should know who I am. They had now idea who I was & said my account was set up by "Andre Andronopolis". They explained to me that this is a VERY RARE occurance and almost never happens, somehow my phone number must have been entered by mistake. They gave me the spiel.... account cancelled, billing charges for July will appear as a credit on my phone account, the remaining balance of $239.00 will be sent to me by check in 7-10 buisness days.

Has anyone ever recieved their refund check?

From Denver

Anonymous said...

Later that day....

I contacted Qwest this afternoon to check if the July charges from "Residential Email" have been credited to my account. They have not..! PLUS...... the Qwest representative advised me that a NEW 3rd party charge has been applied to my phone bill from "IDL Telecommunications" (similar to ESBI)setting up recurring bill of $7.14 for "Nevada Information Services". Something else I've never signed up for.... all Qwest would do is give me another (800) & leave it up to me to sort it out...

Getting Angry in Denver

Anonymous said...

Clearly AT&T needs to clean up its procedures. Allowing fraudulent information to sign up for these services shows that AT&T is not using tools it has available to verify these kinds of third party billings. It sounds like the company is using fraudulent practices, but AT&T is contributing to this fraud by allowing unverified information to be used for "identity". In my case they used information obtainable from our local phone book.

I encourage any readers of this information to contact or file a complaint with their state department of consumer protection, and to make sure you are not only concerned by the fraudulent billing companies but AT&T as well. This would not ever happen if AT&T didn't allow it to happen.

AT&T may claim it's legal, citing federal law following the breakup of the AT&T monopoly years ago, and that their hands are tied. Don't buy it for a minute. Contact your congressman. If enough of us call, they'll be forced to listen and correct this practice.

mnw8781 said...

I opened my ATT bill today and saw charges from ESBI!!!! Grrr. I quickly googled the phone number and found this blog! I called the company and told them to cancel this and credit me. After, I called ATT and they told me they will issue me a credit and that I would have to call back because I was recently charged by this company. I just filed a complaint with the FCC. Next, I will file with the BBB and contact the news media. WHAT A SCAM!!! I advise you all do the same.

exemn04 said...

Same here with Embarq wireline bill.

So far, have only read of this happening on wireline. Is third party billing allowed on wireless bills ?

Anonymous said...

My Embarq bill for July, 2009 has the ESBI charge of $14.95 for "Residential Email" service that many have complained about. After reading all the above comments, I would like to know if anyone had a "John Webster" sign them up for the "Residential Email" charge.

Anonymous said...

ESBI is owned by BSG Clearing. Here's their information from their website:

7411 John Smith Drive, Suite 1500
San Antonio, Texas 78229

Phone: 210.949.7000

Burnt/south carolina said...

Dido to all of it, just filed my comlaint with the FTTC and have a referance # for follow up so RESIDENTIAL EMAIL ,LLC start refunding mine and every one else's money real quick!

zephira said...


Thank you for your blog.

It looks like Residential Email and Predicto Mobile scams are related to the same people.

I get caught in the Predicto scam: $9.99 popped up on my bill for premium text messaging I never subscribed.

They send you message on cell with caller ID 654-654.

After I recouped with some other lawsuits, Eyal Yechezkell, Predicto Mobile CEO and his friend Itai Kathein already helped to found another company called Email Discount Network (EDN) and guess what?

EDN was sued in Florida, Washington State, and Georgia for the same type of scam Predicto is spreading today.

See Washington State Office settlement agreement (EDN)

See Georgia Settlements (EDN)

See Georgia Subscriber Refunds

See state State of Florida complaint:

See Predicto Mobile CEO on YouTube (the guy will appear in the middle of this interview):

A new class action was filed 09/18/2009 in Eastern District of Michigan: Predicto used expired cell-phone contracts to bill new cell phone subscribers see court document at:

My guess is that Predicto, Predicto Mobile, PredictoMobile, or whatever is using kind of pyramid scheme to pay back previous subscribers with new subscribers just like Madoff in the financial arena.

My question is now: do Cell phone companies ever check customers complains, I just send a letter with a photocopy of the above documents to Verizon and ask them how they can authorize Predicto Mobile as a 3rd party.
Dear readers, if you have some time, please send these documents to your cell-phone companies (Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Alltell, etc…).

Hope this document will help get some refund from cell phone providers.

The cell-phone companies are in part responsible for this mess as they share revenue with Predicto or other 3rd parties. I am sure cell-phone companies know about the scam but financial incentives are too high for them to change.

Auty B said...

I too nearly got caught up in this scam, but I caught it right away- this fraudulent charge of 14.95 was more than my actual monthly phone bill! I only use my home phone for my security alarm and the internet, so I noticed it right way. We must do something about this. I am filing a complaint with the FBI and the BBB. We can't just sit back and let them make money off of people that just pay their bill without looking at the charges - they are just hoping that no one notices. Disgusting!

bruce said...

Same fradulent charge on my bill. I called ESBI and they said they'd cancel the service. Then I called ATT and they took the charge off immediately.

My bill is paid automatically from my checking account, so I figured not paying it at all was better than waiting for a credit.

Cobra Kai said...

Just showed up on my bill too. Calling today. Thanks for all of the information - it's very helpful.

Cobra Kai said...

Just talked to Allison @ Residential Email and they said they are crediting the charge and cancelling the service. When I asked where the charge stemmed from, she said that my wife (knew her name, although the bill is in my name) signed up for it through 'Clash Media', somewhere where you have access to $1000 worth of coupons. I told her it was fraudulent, and asked her if she knew of all of the internet postings, blogs, and problems this is causing and said, "Yes." Didn't try to sell me something, give me a spiel, etc. I was very forceful with her and she stayed pleasant and apologized. I feel sorry for her because she probably needs this job, just has to deal with pissed off people all day at a company that rips people off. Apparently I've been billed already for November, so I have 2 charges that they are crediting. We'll see.

bruce said...

I received a nice letter from Residential Email canceling my account and refunding my money. It said they sent a confirmation to ____@hotmail.com (not my account) and that they recorded my IP address (not an address belonging to my ISP) and that they confirmed my birth date. I asked them what birth date was given and it was only off by about 30 years.

You can't even call it identity theft, since the only two pieces of information they had were my name and phone number, which can be obtained from the phone book. The rest of their so-called "security" provides no protection at all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all the info! They had my 5 yr old address and wanted my new one. Did not provide that. She said she will send a confirmation email to my hotmail account and will refund the money in 1 or 2 billing cycles.

This is way too easy for a legal entity to make money illegally and get away without being punished.

Anyway, Thanks again for all the helpful info!!

- Chinmay

Anonymous said...

Thank you Stacey. I just did a search on them b/c just a few minutes ago while I was on one phone call (ironically getting back money for something I shouldn't have been charged for - my call waiting flashed and b/c I was on hold, I answered it to hear this super fast pre-recording that I've signed up for this REs. EMail svc at $14.95/mo and txs and a quick phone # which I didn't have time to take down. I didn't have their tel # b/c, I guess, I took the call using flash while on another call - b/c I was going to get from my caller ID and call back. Too much of this kind of stuff has been happening lately. I never even heard of them and even though I am VERY protected with firewall and internet security suite and scan EVERYDAY - all u have to do is visit some site or get a popup and that cookie is in there grabbing your infor. I'd be happy to write more about this, if any of your readers are interested...or maybe I'll add to one of my blogs. Thanks again. I'll be calling them shortly. - beeha from www.2cobjewelry.com and www.2cobkitchen.com AND
http://2cob.worpress.com - which is where such a post would fit in.

Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I was scammed for a year before I noticed the random charge on my bill. Needless to say, I will be more careful in reviewing my phone bill from now on. (Had no idea that third parties can just attach themselves to my bill.) I just received a 6-month credit and am waiting for the remaining 6-month credit. The person on the phone told me she didn't think it would happen and that the "extra" 3-month credit they gave me was only a courtesy. I laughed. A courtesy? You took my money under fraudulent circumstances and giving it back to me is a courtesy???? We'll see. Thanks for the helpful blog!

Anonymous said...

Same story - OAN and AT&T. Even if you eventually get a full refund these scum have had your money invested for several months.

Anonymous said...


These idiots live in Ft Lauderdale and their new scam is a company called Snackable Media. They will continue to do these scams until someone puts a lein on their houses. Or takes them to small claims court for the $4999 ($499 an hour X 10 hours)it took them to clear their account. Hopefully they will end up like Bernie Madoff.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

It appears NOTHING has been done to stop this company. It's March 2010 and I just got billed for this service. AT&T gives me the runaround. I've been billed for well over a year for two other "services" that I didn't sign up for called Voicemail Direct USA and Odyssey Streaming Radio, both at $14.95 a month. I call them, I tell them I didn't order it and to cancel it, and the next month it's back on my bill. Now I'm being billed for THREE of these dumb things a month. I'm out hundreds of dollars. I demanded my money be refunded, but they don't ever send any money. I'm VERY angry with AT&T for letting this happen. If it doesn't stop I will have to get my DSL from somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Yet another person scammed by ESBI here. I received my phone bill the other day which was higher than normal. I noticed a charge for something called "1Email A Day Mnthlyfe" from ESBI for $14.95 plus tax. I immediately figured it had to be some sort of scam because I never even heard of it let alone authorize it. So I decided to google it to see what exactly this company is and found hundreds of complaints about ESBI.

So I called ESBI and they transferred me to "1Email a Day" and before I could even say a word the customer service rep went on a spiel about the service as if he was trying to sell it to me. I thought it was fishy because if I supposedly signed up for this as they claim then why would they be trying to sell the service to someone who is already aware of it? It's as if they knew I had no idea what their service was and were trying to push it on me before I could cancel something I never even signed up for.

Then he claimed I signed up for it though some web site I never even heard of and claimed they always send out a confirmation email when someone signs up but of course I received no such email.

I thought it was all shady as heck, but it wasn't too difficult to get him to cancel it and credit me. He also offered me a confirmation number right away which was nice. He then asked me if I called my phone company yet and I said no. Then he told me it was not necessary to call them which I thought was a bit shady that he said that.

Of course I did call my phone company (Verizon) to put a block on third party billing. They told me it can take up to one to two billing cycles so its possible they can submit another charge next month so I have to keep a lookout for that.


Anonymous said...

Incredible! This has been going on for >3yrs!

I found a charge added to my phone bill from Enhanced Serv Billing, Inc (ESBI) in the amount of $14.95 for VoicExpress e-fax service that I did not authorize. Someone added an unauthorized charge to my phone bill hoping I wouldn't scrutinize the charges and discover their dirty trick. It's called "cramming."

I called AT&T (1-800-288-2020), and the CS Rep, Jeff, removed the charge and placed a "Third Party Billing Block" on my account. Jeff advised me to call VoicExpress to disenroll in their service, and he urged me to file a complaint with the CPUC if I felt that I was wronged.

Next, I called VoicExpress (1800-367-8006), and their CS Rep, Amy, informed me that they received authorization from www.employment-list.com, and she also informed me of the date & time it was received. She said that I entered my email address and DOB from that site, and that was what signed me up for their service. I replied that I had never, EVER, visited that website. She said she would cancel the service and that my account would be credited within the next 2 billing cycles.

I do not know who was responsible for cramming my phone bill, but I do find it suspicious that I received NO communication from VoicExpress notifying me of my enrollment in their service. No followup phone call. No email confirmation. No "welcome letter." No instructions on how to use the service. No voicemail. No e-FAX! The only notification I received was buried at the bottom of the last page of my monthly AT&T bill. Fortunately, I discovered it before AT&T deducted it from my bank account. Sound suspicious? Now to file a complaint with the CPUC...

Armil@phone providers in my area said...

i had also experienced this one. I agree that:At AT&T, for blindly letting a third-party add on to my phone bill without contacting me. And I'm pissed because I have no idea where else I have been added to lists, so I'm going to have to be even more vigilant and put up with more telemarketing calls who claim I have requested their services.