How to remove oneself from AT&T account?
September 30, 2019 2:37 AM   Subscribe

Friend is currently AT&T on a family plan, and wants to get off of the plan onto his own, or with new company, but is unable to because the account holder holds the access pin that he doesn't know. He could just walk away from the account and start new somewhere with a new number but he has a lot tied to his number and would like to keep that same number at ant cost. Is there anyway to do this without the account holder giving the permission/access code? Can he go to a different carrier? It just seems crazy to me that he is locked into a contract, he pays for, that he can't find anyway to get off of whole keeping the same number? Thank you for advice!
posted by MamaBee223 to Technology (17 answers total)
I'm assuming there is some reason he can't just ask the account holder for the pin?

If it is a safety issue, them he just needs to abandon the number honestly. It's not clear why the account holder 1) can't know he's changing accounts but can know the phone number (this does not have to be answered, do this is JUST speculation on my part). If he's not comfortable letting that person know, you could try to port it through a different carrier, but I suspect there will be roadblocks. I'm pretty sure when I ported my number last, they asked some pretty detailed questions in regards to the account.

It's cost prohibitive , but he could continue to pay for that line and a new account to help the transition go smoother, but that requires money.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:57 AM on September 30, 2019

Should clarify.... The account holder won't release him, and won't give the permission to at&t. So wondering if there's a way around without losing his number.... Seems a bit crazy to me that without that account pin, and he is paying the bill, they will not release him without the permission or access code
posted by MamaBee223 at 3:52 AM on September 30, 2019

It just seems crazy to me that he is locked into a contract, he pays for

Does he pay for it, as far as AT&T is concerned, though? If he's on an AT&T Family Plan where he's not the account holder, is he paying AT&T or is he paying the account holder each month or something?

If he's on the contract he should be able to trot into an AT&T store somewhere and make changes. My partner and I are on a family plan with her kids. We set that up together in an AT&T store and ported her numbers over to the plan and she also can call in and make changes to the account.

It sounds weird that this friend would be "on the contract" and making payments to AT&T but unable to make changes. They may not know the PIN, but that should be as simple as going to an AT&T store or calling AT&T and confirming identity another way. (Also, if they're "on the contract" and making payments they can't "just walk away from the account" entirely, at least not without AT&T dinging their credit...)
posted by jzb at 3:55 AM on September 30, 2019

Seems a bit crazy to me that without that account pin, and he is paying the bill

To whom is he paying the bill, though? The account holder or AT&T? It seems simple to me - stop paying the account holder. If he has no association with AT&T as an account holder, he shouldn't be on the hook for the bill. The account holder is on the hook.
posted by jzb at 3:57 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Another clarification -- he has stopped paying the account holder, he has a lot of company and other things related to his phone number so he is trying very hard to keep this number which seems nearly impossible. He was paying the account holder directly, but has since stopped for the last two months. He just wants access/rights to his phone number.
posted by MamaBee223 at 4:52 AM on September 30, 2019

Maybe this is obvious, but is the account holder refusing to cooperate because your friend owes him money? Because it sounds like your friend owes him money.
posted by jon1270 at 5:00 AM on September 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

Unfortunately, it sounds like it's not "his" phone number in the eyes of AT&T, if he's not the one making payments to them. As far as I am aware (though it's been a few years since I had to do this) someone in your friend's situation has no recourse other than to make nice with the account holder long enough to get them to release the number.

If the number is that important, I'd advise your friend to go back to paying the account holder ASAP to buy your friend some time to keep working on either repairing the situation with the account owner long enough to fix this, or to begin the laborious process of moving things to an all-new phone number. Otherwise it seems pretty likely the account holder is going to get tired of paying for the number and cancel it outright, which seems like the worst of the available options for your friend.
posted by Stacey at 5:04 AM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don't think there's any way around this--at least I didn't find one when I was getting divorced and had to work with my soon to be ex to liberate my longstanding phone number from what had been the family plan. Not a fun experience, so I sympathize with your friend.
posted by Sublimity at 5:30 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

It seems like either
a) the account holder is doing this to exert control or
b) there's some misunderstanding or miscommunication of a technical issue, like perhaps there's a contract that isn't up yet and that the account holder would be breaking.

A seems harder to navigate - is it possible it's B, which could be dealt with by your friend paying whatever penalties there might be, or agreeing to wait until the contract is up for renewal
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:31 AM on September 30, 2019

It's a control issue -- as sublimit said, it's a nasty divorce and she will not relinquish him because she likes to be able to access his phone account and see who he is talking to. It stresses him out even though he owes her nothing, he just wants to keep his number so I was trying to give him some advice as it seems there's really no way around it. Thank for the advice!
posted by MamaBee223 at 5:35 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

If your friend is working with an attorney (which he should be, if it's a nasty divorce) he should get his attorney to communicate with her attorney about getting the phone number released to him. This is the sort of things that most responsible family law attorneys on both sides would want to resolve, as nitpicking little things like this will only complicate the big things that are actually worth litigating about. On his wife's side, if I were her attorney I would be concerned that screwing him on something like his mobile phone number might cause him to dig his heels in on something more important down the road.

Also, if he's concerned that she's tracking who he talks to on his mobile phone, I would suggest that he get something like a google voice number and use that for all actual conversation until he gets the number split off into his own account.
posted by slkinsey at 5:48 AM on September 30, 2019 [18 favorites]

If it's a divorce issue, then he should talk to his lawyer about this.
posted by biscotti at 5:49 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

This is a problem for lawyers. Please have your friend discuss with his attorney.
posted by bilabial at 6:41 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Until he can get himself off, why not use a cheap burner phone for sensitive communucation he does not want the wife to see?
posted by shaademaan at 6:43 AM on September 30, 2019

Agree with the above: if they're both already at the divorce-lawyer stage, then control over the account is something that one side is using for leverage against the other. Your friend should send this through the lawyer, as control over a well-used phone number is another asset to be negotiated in the split.

Your friend won't be able to split the account, nor set up automatic forwarding, without the account holder's permission. HOWEVER, I think your friend could still do the following as a work around:

1) Get that burner phone ASAP.
2) Export all contacts from the contested phone.
2a) Find out if they need the account holder's permission just to refuse incoming calls and/or send them straight to voicemail. If not, activate those.
3) One the contested phone line, re-record a new voice mail greeting that says "Hi, for the time being, I can be reached at NEW NUMBER."
3a) Set up the phone so that all text messages get an auto-reply saying the same thing.
3b) If 2a didn't work out, fill the voice mailbox so that even if people wanted to leave a message, they get a response saying "the voicemail box is full and cannot accept new messages."

4 and beyond) Let the lawyers slug it out. Assign a dollar value to the existing phone number and if the other party decides to do something malicious like keep it forever or let the provider reassign it to strangers, make sure that's documented and something of equal monetary value is paid back.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:25 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I had a big run around with AT&T with a similar situation (estranged brother wouldn't give me pin, etc, etc) What I did was pay off the bill (for my peace of mind), and then was able to port the number to a new service. Sometimes, paying up is the only way to get what you want.
posted by momochan at 4:38 PM on September 30, 2019

Ask if you can separate the accounts as a first step. It may be different if all the lines are under her name or if you each have your name on your phone number.
posted by soelo at 6:43 AM on October 1, 2019

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