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Call Kurtis: They Gave Away My Phone Number!

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Kurtis Ming Kurtis Ming
Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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Jacquie Bockius may be one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

After hurting her back, she spends most her days at her home of two decades, keeping her lush garden green and taking care of stray animals in the neighborhood.

“We have three dogs and many cats,” Bockius said with a smile, while holding “Percy,” one of the newer feline additions to her family.

Bockius is one of nearly one-fifth of Americans without a cell phone, partly because she says cell service at her home is spotty, so she relies on her landline phone to communicate with her doctors.

But one hot summer day, the calls stopped.

“Who knows how many important calls I’ve missed?” she said. “It may not be anything to other people, but it really … It turns my life upside down.”

When she called AT&T, she says she was told her number of 18 years didn’t exist — instead, the number belonged to a Comcast customer.

But her monthly AT&T bills showed otherwise.

“Why would my phone be given to someone else?” she told CBS Sacramento. “It just didn’t make sense. Everybody I know knows that number.”

“This is obviously a mis-port,” said Gary Almond, President of the Northeast California Better Business Bureau.

Almond said mistakes can happen when phone numbers are transferred from one company to another, a process known as “porting.” In this case, however, Bockius wasn’t trying to switch to Comcast — but somehow her number had been reassigned.

AT&T referred her to Comcast, then Comcast sent her back to AT&T. She never got an answer about what happened, even after purchasing a prepaid cell phone and using up all the minutes on hold.

“Nobody could tell me what’s going on,” she said.

“The big problem here is you have another carrier involved now,” Almond said.

When CBS Sacramento reached out to Comcast, the company told us it was all “a data entry error.” A worker who mistyped the phone number. Many companies, including Bockius’ provider, AT&T, have safeguards to protect against human mistakes like this, but for some reason it didn’t work here.

The day after we got involved, AT&T apologized for the situation and, Bockius’ phone was reconnected after a week of missed calls.

“I’m happy to have my phone back,” she said.

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