Have I been socially engineered?

My trials and tribulations in moving continued today. I thought I had gotten our phone service being isntalled taken care of on Monday with HickoryTech. In the process, I may have released private information to an unknown 3rd party. After calling their toll free number, I was routed throught their system, and was transferred to Person X, whose name I have forgotten at this point. I asked him for rates for local service, and was impressed with the rates over Qwest published rates. His answers were a bit vague, like “about $20 after federal/state fees and taxes” as opposed to $12.75. A couple of his answers were contradicted with the published rates on the HickoryTech’s website, but he nonchallantly said he was mistaken. I signed up to have my service installed the Monday following the move, and he said that would be fine. He said he just needed my social security # and current phone number. I asked what my phone number would be, and he said it would stay the same. He also said DSL was available in the area, and the rates matched the website. I said go ahead on the phone, but I will let you know on the DSL

I called HickoryTech back today to sign up for the DSL service, and they were obviously confused when I told them what I thought my telephone number would be. To put it succinctly they had no record of my calling on Monday, would never have said I could keep my current telephone number, and DSL was not offered in my area. At this point, I have no idea what to make of my run-in with the mysterious customer rep. Was it the ghost of HickoryTech’s past, a telecom engineer playing a joke, or someone gathering info for identity theft? (or was it a confused customer rep) I am not sure how one could have averted telling a prospective telecom your personal information, and authenicating the person you are talking to as one appropriate to have that knowledge. The similarities to online transactions and the difficulty in authenication and transmittal of private information is ironic. Perhaps if we had transmitted our public PGP keys or token slots in our phones to validate both parties, it would have prevented the problem. Additionally, one could use that token to encrypt the digital/analog signal between you and the other party, aka phone SSL.

Who knows what happened on Monday, but the end result is I am glad I called back today and not spent Monday wondering where my phone service is.

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