A Reddit post that reached the front page of the popular news aggregation site this week raised concerns that Comcast will give out its customer’s home addresses to anyone with their phone number, but it’s a half-truth at best.
In a post made by Reddit user vinnie_james, he claims “Comcast will give out your home address to anyone who asks” through the company’s automated phone system for bill pay. According to vinnie_james, a caller can enter any phone number and the system will attempt to confirm the caller’s authenticity by reading out the address associated with the phone number.
“Making matters worse, if you then pay the bill on someone else’s account, the system prompts you to add yourself as an authorized user and requests the callers phone number, potentially granting them full access to your account,” the user wrote.
Vinnie_james’ post achieved more than 24,000 upvotes on r/technology, a subreddit with more than six million subscribers, before it was removed after the poster edited the post with a plug for cryptocurrency. The post has gathered another 800 or so upvotes in the much smaller subreddit r/privacy.
From the looks of it, the claims of vinnie_james are a bit exaggerated.
When you call Comcast’s automated phone system, it automatically verifies the number calling to confirm that it is a number associated with a Comcast account. If it doesn’t recognize the number, it will prompt you to enter a phone number or account number to look up the account.
Once a phone number associated with Comcast is entered, shares the numeric portion of the address connected to the account. So if you live at 1234 First Street, the automated system will read out “1-2-3-4.”
As for the claim that Comcast’s system prompts the caller to add themselves to the account as an authorized user, that is true—but to actually complete the process, the caller has to provide credentials to log in before being granted access.
At worst, a stranger could find out the digits of your home address—which is slightly unsettling—and maybe pay your bill.
There are plenty of reasons to hate on Comcast: the company has pushed for the repeal of net neutrality protections, enrolled people in useless programs without their permission, overcharged customers, and has regularly found its way to the top of the list of the most hated companies in America. This does not appear to be one of them.