While Barbie was in Greece serving in the US Military, her cellphone account was hijacked by a strange scammer in Texas. (Barbie is not from Texas.) Because her Verizon account is supposed to be on hold, it took her awhile to figure out what was going on with her her supposedly dormant account. Now Verizon Wireless doesn’t believe her case is really fraud, and she’s sent this letter of complaint to the FCC.
Let’s listen in:
I am currently serving in the U.S. Military. After completing boot camp at the end of summer 2007 I received my orders to go to Greece – departing October 23, 2007. I was told by other military personal that I could have my Verizon Wireless cellular phone account put on hold for up to one year, as I would not have any service in Greece. I contacted Verizon who told me that it was not possible to put my account on hold. After talking to my commanding officer, I was told that the Verizon Representative I talked to was incorrect, and that – by law – I should be able to put the account on hold. Since I had already left for Greece in October 2007, my mother contacted Verizon on my behalf to, once again, put a hold on the phone and the account. This was completed in December 2007.
I was still receiving bills from Verizon Wireless after my phone was on hold, but my mother paid those bills figuring they were left over from previous months. I was unable to view my bill as I am in Greece, and I never set up an online account at Verizon’s website. The bills were paid as follows AFTER the account was on hold:
February 9, 2008 for $197.57 via VISA credit card (I have a letter from Verizon confirming the payment.)
March 23, 2008 for $115.00 via Check #275
I also received a letter from Verizon on February 10, 2008 stating that I registered for “My Account” online. My mother is the person who received the letter and assumed I had set this up so I could keep an eye on my account while in Greece. I, however, never set my account up online. The next, and most recent bill sent to me is for the total amount of $779.62 – due April 23, 2008. Seeing that this was a huge amount due for a phone being on hold, and since my mother paid the past 2 bills in full, she contacted me to let me know there must be a problem. She scanned and emailed me a copy of the bill for me to review. I have noticed that now there is another name and phone number attached to my account. The new phone number is 210-[redacted] and the additional name is [redacted]. I never authorized for any additional names or numbers to be added to my account. It also seemed odd that my cell number is a 717 area code (Pennsylvania), and the number recently added to the account is a 210 area code (Texas). I searched the name [redacted] and found that she is a wanted criminal in Denton County Texas. My step father has already contacted the Denton County Police Tip Line.
I called the Verizon Wireless Customer Service line 2 days ago to get this matter resolved. I was put on hold for over 20min only to be told that I would have to contact the Fraud Department at 1-800-521-1841. I called the Fraud Department several times. I was left on hold for a representative for at least 30min each time I called. I finally received little help from a representative at the Fraud Department this morning. The call was placed on April 17, 2008 around 9am.
I explained my situation to the rep. But I was being treated as if I were the criminal. I was never asked to verify any account information. The only information taken from me was the new phone number on my account. 20min after I gave the Rep the unrecognizable number I was finally told that this new name and number was added to the account in August 2007. I was shocked! Then the Rep told me that it is my responsibility to check my account regularly, and that since it has been “almost a year” since the addition that there was suspicion as to why I was now calling. I explained that I am in the military and had orders to go to Greece and that my mother had been taking care of my bills. She did not seem to care. The Rep also told me that the new number associated with my account is a dedicated line for a laptop. This does not make any sense, as the bill clearly states that the number [redacted] is a cellular phone calling plan – with 450 general minutes for $39.99. The current bill is at almost $800 because there were 1865 minutes used (1415min over the plan) as well as text and picture messaging and a Ringback Tone. If the number were used for a laptop, why would it have all this information on the bill? I was very angry at this point because of the way the Rep handled the situation, as well as the demeanor in which she spoke to me. I explained to her that the new number is a Texas area code and that I live on the East Coast. She said since she is in New York I would have to contact the Fraud Department in the South. This is when I decided to write to the FCC, as it seems my situation is going nowhere with Verizon Wireless. Please help.
The rep you talked to seemed like a jerk. Before you do anything else, you may want to launch an EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb) on Verizon to let their bigwigs know that you’ve reported them to the FCC. For more information about how to learn to launch an EECB, click here.
If you don’t see any results from escalating your complaint, you might want to think about filing a lawsuit in Verizon in small claims court and/or maybe filing a police report. Since you’re in the military, you have access to some legal help through the armed services. U.S. Armed Forces Legal Assistance, or the Naval Legal Service Office may be able to provide you with legal advice.
Anyone have advice for Barbie?