I need the security key to unlock my Three mobile contract

I am caught in a catch-22. I had a mobile broadband contract with Three that I thought I had cancelled in 2016. However, it continued to take monthly direct debits. I only noticed recently so I tried to cancel again. Three refused to talk to me as I did not pass security screening (name, date of birth, postcode).

I was so annoyed I cancelled the direct debit. Then a debt collection agency demanded payment. I called them but failed the security screening because Three had given a wrong date of birth.

Three then refused to talk to me because I could not tell them the wrong date of birth they hold. It asked me to visit a Three store with my passport but the manager couldn’t access my file … as I don’t pass security. One call centre agent suggested I send a copy of my passport to its ID verification email address but this proved to be another red herring. Apparently, if I settle the bill with the debt collectors this will re-activate my account and thus start the process again. ML, Rochester, Kent

Where to start! First, if you’re cancelling a contract make sure you follow the required process and check for confirmation. Keep an eye on bank statements. If you failed to notice payments to Three over three years you can’t be keeping close enough tabs on your finances.

Never stop payments during a dispute over a contract. This could wreck your credit rating.

Security screening is an essential protection, but your experience shows it can become an absurdity if the details relied on have been recorded incorrectly.

Three UK says that it has no record of you cancelling in 2016 and no record of your visit to the store with your passport. It has now cancelled your account, waived the outstanding balance and refunded the last three months’ line rental as a gesture of goodwill.

If you need help email Anna Tims at or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Publication subject to our terms and conditions

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