Okay, okay - so you all know this already.

But without the intention of sounding like some sort of chain letter spam email, I thought it best to share with everyone a recent experience so that you may better prepare yourself.

If you use Verizon for your primary phone service such as myself (specifically I am in NYC) you should know that it is extremely easy to cancel your service.

Big deal, you say?

Well yes. Let me tell you a little story...

Last week, Tuesday to be exact, my roommate and I came home to find that we had no dialtone, no phone service. Using our cellphones to call home, we found the enigmatic automated voice of Verizon telling us that "The number you have dialed has been disconnected. No further information is available." As recent construction on our street had previously knocked out our heat and hot water the week before, we assumed the phone service disruption was related - though it did strike us as odd that our Verizon DSL service still worked.

Shrugging it up to a temporarily inconvenience, we thought nothing more of it. This changed when we found that the service was still out the following day...

A call to the ever so helpful customer service representatives of Verizon brought new light to the situation - 'twould appear that my roommate's wife had called and cancelled the phone service.

Of course, my roommate has never been married.

This disturbed us greatly, and when we asked what sort of security Verizon had in place to verify a caller's request for cancellation, we were told that there were no such procedures in place. The representative could not access the call log, see who took the call or get the phone number of the person making the request - she simply told us that there was a note on the account - "Mrs.requests termination of service."

That was it. All it took to cancel the phone service was a phone call, the knowledge of the number to cancel and perhaps the name - though even that is in question, as the note gave no surname. The representative went on to assign us a security PIN that would be necessary for all future changes to the account, to prevent such an incident from happening again. Our service was reconnected - which subsequently knocked our DSL line out for several days, but that's another story.

The end result was that I learned it was possible for someone to cancel a Verizon phone account with utter simplicity. In fact, I could right now pick any random phone number and name from the Yellow Pages and have their account terminated. (BTW - When my roommate posed such a scenario to the customer service representative, she agreed that it was indeed possible to do such a thing.)

Hard to believe, I know. But go on ahead, try to cancel your service and see if they ask for any collaborating information. If not, you too may want to add a PIN to your account.