I am still using the same access card I got back in 1996! Never got any notice lately.
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This has happened twice to me. I think they periodically send out new cards and expire the old ones to weed out the 'cheaters' who've obtained cards somehow and are pirating the signals, or the new cards have better security or something, but the whole things sucks cause it's at the inconvenience of all of us loyal and longtime customers.
The p-4 cards are to correct a security issue. I got mine around a year ago and disregarded the notice and periodic pop-ups on my screen. In around 3-4 months, my screen went black in the 8th inning of a no hitter!! I called, they walked me through the transfer, and it did not take!! I am still using my old card! They told me they would reissue p-4 cards, but that never happened. In conclusion, you have time to sit on it.
It's not just Direct TV, it also happens with Dish. I'm on my 3rd Direct TV card at home. The executive apt. I was using last summer had Dish Network cards expire. What I found annoying was that Direct TV expected me to pay a $25 fee for the change of card to update their security. I don't mind them protecting their programming, but I don't wish to pay for it. With no small amount of angry discourse they eventually agreed to upgrade the card for free.
I also received a new card about a month ago. I disregarded it for about a week, until a message came on the screen that I would lose my signal if I didn't install the new card. I think it gave me 30 minutes. So I followed the on screen instuctions and installed the new card. It's pretty painless, so I wouldn't make a fuss about it, they give you the card and don't charge you for it.