Mom Threw Away Blackberry, T-Mobile Charges For $6,000 In Fraudulent Calls

Before leaving the country, Fermin left his Blackberry on his table along with some junk mail. His mother came over while he was gone to clean up, and swept up the phone along with the junk mail and tossed it. Someone found it in the garbage and used it to make $6,000 in fraudulent calls. Fermin negotiated with T-Mobile to pay $2,000, then they changed their minds without notice and decide to hold him on the hook for $4,000. What’s a consumer to do?

Fermin writes:

While I was out of the country on a vacation in the beginning of July I left my blackberry at home with its battery removed and the case popped on top of my dining table along with some junk mail I had picked up from my mail box at the last minute. While I was out my mother came over to do some cleaning and she threw swept all the junk mail along with my cellphone into the trash and threw it out. Apparently someone found the cellphone and proceeded to make over $6000 worth of long distance calls.

T Mobile let this go on until it passed the $6000 mark before suspending service to the phone. So upon returning from vacation I was presented with this nightmarish bill from Tmobile for a phone I had lost and calls I could have never made. I have made several calls to Tmobile, they have a special department ( High Balance Department ) which is not tended by customer service reps but some kind of specially trained employees that are only there to get you to pay. After several different calls I got my issue escalated to a supervisor. After discussing the situation with this supervisor for a while he offered me a settlement of 10 payments of $200 to settle the debt. I reluctantly agreed as I had no other parent options, not paying this bill would ruin my carefully cared for credit history.

After I finished with the supervisor, I went up to my PC and checked my account balance and it was at the agreed $2000 mark. Today I went to make my first payment and found that my account balance had been raised up to $4000 without notice and when I tried calling that same number all I got was another rep that said I would have to pay the first $2000 before I could enter into the agreed 10 payments of $200.

I have not missed a payment on anything on my entire life, my credit record is flawless. But T-Mobile first let my account run to stratospheric heights and now is holding my credit history ransom . I have done some research as you can imagine, and there is no federal law that makes telecoms put a hard cap on what an account can run to before notifying the owner or suspending the account. So I find myself without a cellphone, a $6000 bill and my financial future on jeopardy because of some predatory tactic T-Mobile employs and the FCC not doing anything about it.

I really dont know what to do, I dont have the money to pay, I cant buy a new cellphone and activate a line as long as I have to be paying for this. Im so scared my credit history will be ruined for a decade or more. I really could use any help I can get.

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  1. GuJiaXian says:

    Make your mother pay. I’m serious.

    • HannahK says:

      I don’t see why the mother shouldn’t pay. Her actions were the only reason the phone made it into the wild and was used for so long without anyone reporting it as stolen. But that’s between the OP and his mom.

      He doesn’t say if he filed a police report about the theft of the phone. I wonder if that would have helped him plead his case with T Mobile. But if they did drop the charges, I would see it as them doing him a huge favor, or doing it to avoid bad publicity. Ultimately he is the only one responsible for how his phone gets used.

      • GuJiaXian says:

        Very true. I came across as very anti-mom, but the OP is ultimately responsible for the phone and its use.

      • Big Ant says:

        If it was in the trash it may not be considered theft. I know there was a lawsuit here recently where someone left some furniture they were moving on the curb for a break, don’t know why they would do this without at least watching it, but the case went to court as someone picked it up saying it was on the curb as garbage, and were able to keep it.

        • DH405 says:

          The problem isn’t so much the theft of the physical device as it is the fraudulent use of the account.

          • katstermonster says:

            Yes, but I’d assume that once you have a police report indicating theft, you might be able to get T-Mobile to budge. Their other requirement might be that he had to know that it was stolen, but I’d think (read: hope) that being out of the country would be enough for them. Probably not, but I can hope!

    • RayanneGraff says:

      This is what I was gonna suggest. If my mom was careless enough to throw my freaking cell phone in the garbage causing me to run up a $6k bill, I will sue her ass to the ends of the earth till she pays for it. This is 100% not the OP’s fault, he should not have to pay even one cent of this bill.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        Maybe she’s like, 90 years old and senile

        • operator207 says:

          And if true, that makes her coming into his house and throwing away mail and his cellphone okay/acceptable how?

      • Emperor Norton I says:

        No, this is 50% the OP’s fault for leaving it out there & letting his mom have a key!
        He knows what she’s like & he shouldn’t have left something like that laying around.
        It should have been in a drawer.
        His mom has a serious problem if she’s throwing out someone else’s junk mail. Not all junk mail is junk to everyone & some real mail looks like junk mail as there are so many times I read about people throwing out real checks because they look like the phony checks the junk mailers send out.

        • Kingeryck says:

          Right, because he could really have foreseen that there was a danger of having his phone thrown out and having $6,000.00 in calls made by leaving his phone on the table.

      • SunnyLea says:

        Mother issues?

        • RayanneGraff says:

          Yes. I’m sad to say that my mom is an idiot who would absolutely be capable of doing something like this, and then blaming me for leaving it where she could find it.

          • junip says:

            Hah. My mother once wanted to move my car out of her driveway while I was away on a trip. She backed right into the mailman’s truck across the street and then called me up screaming saying it was my fault because “the brakes were bad” in my car. She also said that if she had to go to traffic school because of the accident then I would have to pay for it. It takes multiple incidents to get you into traffic school, and I checked my car when I got home. The brakes were perfectly fine. Moms. What can you do?

    • jimmyhl says:

      No joke. That’s the first idea I had. If I was running T-Mobile that is exactly what I’d say too.

    • dwasifar says:

      He can’t. He says right in the letter that he has “no other parent option.”

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Get a lawyer and go to court. Sorry, but for $4000 and a potential credit rating hit, it’s worth the time to fight this to the bitter end.

    You’ll have to force T-mobile to prove you caused the charges.

    • thewritejerry says:

      Why should T-Mobile be forced to show that he made the charges? The calls came from his phone, he contracts for phone service. The situation sucks, and T-Mobile might want a customer service win by helping him out, but in no way are they obligated to do such a thing.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Actually, if you report the phone stolen you are no longer liable for charges made on the phone. However, companies generally are going to fight you on that one. He needs to stand his ground and go through the appropriate actions.

        • tamaracks says:

          Trouble is, it sounds like he didn’t know the phone was missing until after his vacation. Likely the charges were run up before he realized it. Isn’t the typical cell company policy that you are responsible unless you report it?

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            In theory, a police report would be sufficient, even if after the fact. As long as he does it as soon as he know and not wait weeks.

            • shaleoil24 says:

              so I could make a bunch of calls and data transfers, rack up a huge bill, and then go to the police and tell them my phone was stolen “3 weeks ago” and then I could contest the charges with my carrier and said I was out of the country and didn’t have time to report it till now, waive all my charges?

              • somedaysomehow says:

                Well, yes, but you’d be risking going to jail for filing a false police report.

                • shaleoil24 says:

                  how would anyone beside the OP, including the police, know the truth of this? My point was that if it were so easy to retroactively declare something stolen, then some people would abuse the heck of of that.

                  • FrugalFreak says:

                    He needs to prove where he was and for how long.

                    Dear Sir, you have NO point.

                    • shaleoil24 says:

                      that’s funny, I’m sure on the contract it says something along the lines of “you’re responsible for all charges to your account until you tell us your phone is missing or stolen”. why would it matter then that he was out of the country? Charges on his account. You should think before you post, friend, it might help your cause

                    • Buckus says:

                      Cool. If this happens to you, don’t come crying to Consumerist. Just cough up the $6000.

                    • Gulliver says:

                      Most of us dont have our mommies cleaning up after us, and we take care of our property to not have this happen. If his house is that big a pig sty that junk mail and cell phone are the same weight, he needs to get a clue and clean up. What grown ass man has mommy cleaning up after him? Who is to say mom didn’t make the calls. Prove she didnt Mr OP. Prove mom didnt let her friend from the old country use it to call all her relatives. If mom is that involved in yoru life to clean up your house she needs to pay for your “perfect credit”

                    • pf3 says:

                      Wait, so this guy is wrong because he had his mom house-sit? Would it be okay if it was his friend?

                    • SunnyLea says:

                      Um… my “mommy” doesn’t clean my house, but a couple of times I’ve had her come in and feed the cats while I was out of town and she’d taken it upon herself to clean. ‘Cuz, you know, she’s my mom and she likes to do nice things for me.

                    • damageinc says:

                      I’m only replying to this to see how skinny it will make my post.

                    • omg says:

                      So a proactive way to deal with this sort of thing is to report your phone missing before you leave the country and then report you found it if it’s still there when you return?

                  • regis-s says:

                    I think people are missing the part where the phone has to be reported as lost/stolen to the phone company. They probably only care about a police report if you’re trying to get a bunch of charges waived.

          • Sinful Josh says:

            If he can prove he was out of the country (plane tickets and passport stamps) and Tmo shows the calls were made from the states.. would that not prove it? Also file a police report as your phone was stolen. Most the time they wont investigate but they will give you a case number stating this and you can take that to Tmo as well.

        • jefeloco says:

          You are no longer liable for charges *from* the time when you report it lost/stolen. Anything charges made before you suspend your line are your responsibility. That is the key difference and the contract that he signed included verbiage to that effect, just like with all post-paid cell contracts.

          Sometimes you can get charges removed if you can prove a time/date of a police report filing or at least notification to the police but sometimes you can’t.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        So if I tie into your phone line and call a bunch of 900 phone lines, you would willingly pay the charge? I mean, they were made from YOUR phone line. So what you may not have been in the country, or can show you were at work when the calls were made. You contracted for phone service. AmIRite?

        • BBBB says:

          “So if I tie into your phone line and call a bunch of 900 phone lines, you would willingly pay the charge? I mean, they were made from YOUR phone line.”

          A similar thing happened to me many years ago. International long distance charges started to show up on my phone bill (all to a couple of numbers) and I disputed them. A day or so later I picked up my phone and heard a conversation (in the language of the country of the LD calls) on my line. I reported this as well. After being interrogated about the possibility that it was a roommate, they agreed to send out a technician. He tested the line and found extra phones on it. More investigation showed that the other phones were not in my apartment building. Climbing a few telephone poles showed the extra phone was at a house up the street. The technician disconnected that line.

          The phone company dropped the charges after only one jump up to a supervisor.

          Both the technician and a consumer group told me that if the illegal tap into the line had occurred after the connection box on the side of the building, I would have been responsible for the charges and I would have to try to collect damages from whoever did it. The wiring inside the building belongs to the building owner and/or the tenants – if the connection occurs before the box, the theft of services is from the phone company directly; if the connection is after the box, then the theft is from the customer.

          I later ran into someone who had the same thing happen except the connection was inside the building going to another apartment. The phone company wouldn’t budge on the charges. After some denials, arguments, and some threats, the person paid the bills.

    • Gulliver says:

      No, TMobile is not forced to say he made the charges,. They will present a bill with the times they were used. The fact he did not have possession of his phone during that time means somebody else could have. He was negligent. TMobile did NOTHING wrong. Take it up with mom.

    • jimmyhl says:

      I’m a lawyer. Trust me: T-Mobile would be the heavy favorite if this mess goes to court.

      • common_sense84 says:

        I’m a better lawyer. Trust me, T-mobile won’t even show up.

        • c!tizen says:

          I’m not a layer, but I play one on TV. I think you’re pretty much screwed here. T-mo shut the phone off, and yes they probably should have at least given you a courtesy call somewhere around the $1000.00 mark, but they’re not required to so I’m not sure you can’t legally do much except beg and plead for mercy.

          I’ll leave you in the hands of more capable colleagues above.

        • FrugalFreak says:

          Shark vs Shark. No winners here.

        • Gulliver says:

          Why would TMobile have to show up for anything? Even a no-show in court has to have a valid claim. He would have to say TMobile owes HIM money. He would also have to serve them based on the contract he signed. You are obviously not a very good attorney

          • Jasen says:

            If one party in a suit does not show up, judgment is rendered in favor of the party that did show up.
            This is how credit card companies win so many judgments. The person they sue doesn’t show up, they win a default judgment without having to prove a thing.

            • Mr. Pottersquash says:

              not exactly, to get a Default Judgment, (unless Judge is lazy) present party still has to show why they are enttled to a Judgement. in CC cases the co. usully present the signed statement or an electronic activation reciept. The problem here, is that OP would have to not pay and wait for T-Mobile to sue him, after they trash his rating and etc.

            • Gulliver says:

              Having sued and won a default judgement I was required to tell the magistrate exactly why I was entitled to the money. I presented the documents showing the person I sued was responsible for the bill. If the other person does not show, those facts MUST be considered as the facts of the case. The purpose of a trial is to determine the facts of a case. If one does not show up, it means they can not dispute those facts.
              This is also why if a police officer does not show up for a speeding ticket charge you only win if you were not speeding. I sat in a court with a guy who admitted to speeding, but the officer did not show up, the judge gave them the fine, since he admitted under oath he was speeding.

              • wolf3345us says:

                It doesn’t work that way here in the US . At least not where I live(MS), even with speeding tickets. If the officer doesn’t show for the date then the ticket is tossed.

                • thisistobehelpful says:

                  It does in some states. I know specifically in WA state that if the officer doesn’t show up and your two witnesses do you’re still guilty of speeding because police officers NEVER LIE EVER and the ticket is enough evidence.

    • mowz says:

      No. Since he is claiming that his phone was stolen, he’ll have to bear the burden of proof. All T-Mobile is doing is sticking to the contract he signed.

    • nakkypoo says:

      I’m not a lawyer, but how does the OP have a case? Unexpected costs != fraudulent costs. And who leaves the country without their phone? And before you say T-mobile locks phones, they don’t. I recently went to Australia with three T-mobile phones. I called them a few days before I left and they unlocked all of my phones. I put in a Telstra SIM with no problem. In NZ I put in a voda SIM no problem, and in Thailand some no-name (it had a name, 123) SIM with no trouble.

  3. Radiating says:

    If he didn’t make the calls how is he responsible for the debt? That seems ridiculous.

    • Kishi says:

      Because TMobile doesn’t care if he’s responsible for the calls- he’s responsible for the account, so if someone uses the account to make calls, he’s supposed to pay for it.

      As it is, though, this is just insane. I can’t believe TMobile didn’t shut it down before that (how long does it take to rack up that many long distance calls?) and they should stick to their agreement. Did the OP get anything in writing?

      • thewritejerry says:

        I do agree that maybe T-Mobile should have contacted the OP once the charges started looking odd. Back in the day of calling cards, Sprint called me and asked if I had used my card recently. I told them I had made 1 call that day from a public phone and they said that shortly after that the card was pinged for several calls to places I had never called in my life. They cancelled the card, cancelled the fraudulent charges and issued me a new card. That was nice of them, but under the contract, not something they were required to do.

        • Griking says:

          Do phone carriers regularly monitor all of their users calls? If then that’s actually kind of creepy.

          • madanthony says:

            My guess is that they have some sort of algorithm that detects patterns that are out of the ordinary for that card, or that they have certain things that they know are done frequently by people committing fraud but rarely by legitimate users that they probably have their system flag.

            At least that’s the impression I get about how credit card companies work. I would guess phone companies are similar.

            • 99 1/2 Days says:

              There are laws which protect the consumer from credit card fraud, and it’s the banks that have to pay for the loss. So it’s worth it to them to spend the money for monitoring systems to stem it.

      • Reading Rainbow says:

        So if someone steals my car and get’s caught for parking tickets and red light cameras, but I’m gone for a month while this occurs (so I don’t report the car stolen), I have to pay for it?

        • NarcolepticGirl says:

          I’m sure when you found out your car was stolen, you would call the police and file a report.
          I’m not sure if the OP did this, doesn’t sound like it. But it may have helped.

        • halcyon22 says:

          That’s the idea, yes – unless you can prove it wasn’t you driving the car and getting those tickets.

    • outoftheblew says:

      It was his phone and he didn’t report it stolen while the calls were being made. Why should they believe him?

      (I’m not insinuating anything about the OP, just explaining why the phone company is not just saying “Oh well, these things happen, don’t worry about it.”)

      I’m really curious what his mom had to say about it. Isn’t she racked with guilt? Did he give her permission to clean his house while he was gone and just throw stuff away willy-nilly?

      • Twonkey says:

        My mom does the same thing. She likes to feel like she’s contributing to the family dynamic, so she’ll come over to my place and tidy it up while nobody is home. I understand the need to feel helpful, and I even appreciate what she does for us. That having been said, I can’t count on one hand how many times I’ve had to run out to the dumpster and root through the trash to recover important papers that she just assumed were trash.

    • Gulliver says:

      Imagine you give your ATM PIN and card to somebody. They withdraw $1000 from your bank account. Do you think the bank is responsible for to give you the cash back? He was clearly irresponsible with his phone (if not him, his mother was). This is an item that clearly CAN and will produce charges.
      Now take it to the next scenario. BOO HOO I don’t want to pay. Hey, I have an idea, claim it was stolen AFTER there is $6000 in debt on it. HAHA. we screwed TMobile.
      Explain to me why TMobile should negotiate one penny off his balance now?

      • coren says:

        Imagine someone finds your ATM card and it doesn’t require a pin. That’s more analagous.

      • nyCecilia says:

        Actually, if you report it lost/stolen right away, there is a limit on how much you are liable for, so yeah, the bank would give you your money back. But there’s a really quick time limit for reporting it, 48 hours, and even then, you’re limited to $500 in liability.

        For Visa cards, you have 30 days to report. And at max, $50 liability.

        Boggles my mind that phone companies don’t have similar rules.

        http://www.pirg.org/consumer/banks/debit/debitcards1.htm

    • damageddude says:

      I assume he didn’t notify T-Mobile in a timely matter. Still T-Mobile (and all cell phone providers) should be able to determine when usage is way out of the ordinary and suspend it pending authentication. Even 10 years ago I once had my credit card company call the merchant I was at while on vacation because they were concerned that a series of charges THAT AFTERNOON were out of the ordinary for me and they wanted to verify it was me with the card (which I’m sure had nothing to do with them being stuck with all the first $50).

      • JayPhat says:

        My brother had that happen with Chase. He and friends went to Windsor for a weekend(when they were 19) and stopped at some po-dunk store in detroit for snacks. His card got declined. 30 seconds later Chase was calling him because the store he was at was such a crap-hole, they were sure it had been stolen.

      • AliceAitch says:

        Having your cell phone shut down pending authorization for unusual usage puts you in a fantastic situation if you’re traveling.

        My husband and I were in a situation a few years ago where we were traveling in New Mexico. We didn’t bring every credit and debit card we had along with us, because what happens if you lose your wallet? We were alternating paying for things, and after the first couple of purchases our cards started getting flagged for unusual activity and shut down. We ended up at a filling station in a tiny town between Raton and Taos with no way to pay for our gas. Sure, we should have had some cash, but the amount of cash that is safe to carry isn’t enough to feed and board a family of four and fill up their car on a road trip.

        Now, imagine if our cell phone had been shut down too. It would have been great fun standing at a pay phone in the New Mexico heat for however long it would take to get our cards reactivated with two kids that aren’t interested in sticking close but would rather go running around in the parking lot.

        I’ve also been on a road trip where one bank card has been deactivated multiple times.

        Both of those situations would have *sucked* if it wasn’t for having a cell phone that wasn’t behaving like my bank.

    • jefeloco says:

      He assumed any and all debt relevant to charges on the account when he signed up for it and agreed (verbally or in writing) to the terms of the contract.

      I’m sure that he didn’t foresee this kind of thing happening but he already assumed the debt.

  4. Abradax says:

    Screw that. Dispute the charges. Dispute them forcefully.
    If they try to place anything on your credit report, dispute that as well. Provide receipts of you being out of the country during the time the calls were made to prove you weren’t near your phone. They have GPS, they have records they can show you EXACTLY where the calls were made from. If you weren’t there, you don’t pay.

    Don’t let them strong arm you into paying 2000 dollars for a bill that is not yours. They did you a favor by not honoring their agreement, now you aren’t stuck paying 2000 dollars for something THEY allowed to get up to monsterous proportions before deciding something might be wrong.

    • thewritejerry says:

      How does T-Mobile know he didn’t lend the phone to a friend while he was gone and now they’re trying to get out of the charges? Granted, $6000 is quite a charge, and assumedly out of character for the holder of this phone, but there is no solid evidence that this isn’t fraud.

      • Abradax says:

        A sworn affidavit from him and his mother, as well as proof he was out of the country would be sufficent in a court of law I’m sure.

        • Gulliver says:

          Not really. he is still responsible for what happens with it. See this contract he says clearly spells that out.

        • 99 1/2 Days says:

          It was his mother’s carelessness that was responsible, not T-Mobile. So why should T-Mobile have to eat the charges on this?

    • Griking says:

      So by your logic any time I decide I go out of the country I can give my kids my cell phone and tell them to go wild with it ans then claim that I’m not responsible for the calls since I was out of the country?

  5. Murph1908 says:

    We hear about this often on Consumerist.

    Imagine how many we don’t hear about.

    Consider how many will end up paying it, or a lower negotiated amount as Fermin tried.

    Why would any company throw away tens (hundreds) of thousands of dollars by allowing you to put a cap on your account?

    Why would they turn a revenue source into a cost, especially if the issue affects a small percentage of their clients? It will take time and money to incorporate such caps and monitor them in accounts.

    Not defending the practice, just explaining it.

    • bikeoid says:

      Hey, they were able to cap it off at $6,000 – why not something closer to realistic $600? And, why not a customer-specified limit?

      • Murph1908 says:

        Because $600 isn’t enough for them to fight over.

        It’s like pot odds in poker. You only chase the flush if the pot is big enough to justify the amount of calling the bet.

        $600 won’t pay the ‘High Balance Department’ to try to collect it.

        Now,$6000? Sure. If they can get 1 of 4 of those people to pay $2000 or $4000, they profit.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        About 6 years ago I had a $140 spending limit on my old T-Mo account. I’ve since opened a new account & no mention of any spending limit was made, so I’m gonna have to call them & see if I can set one up. If they’ll let me, I’m gonna set mine at $100.

        • frank64 says:

          I tried on my Sprint account, they said no. If you have bad credit, then you can get it. The next time I get a phone I think I am going to get a pay as you go for this reason.

          One think is a limit won’t help if someone makes overseas calls, by the time the cell company finds out it is too late.

          • VermilionSparrow says:

            My Sprint account cuts off at $200 in unpaid charges, but I didn’t set that limit myself, they did after I was dumb enough to forget to pay the bill a couple times.

      • BigRobot says:

        There’s a tiny team responsible for monitoring what are called “HBLT” (High balance-low tenure) of maybe 10 people for all 20+ million accounts that T-mo has. They’re alerted to major activity, but other than that, there’s no physical way for them to monitor everything. The billing system is so archaic that there’s no way that they could put individual hard caps on each account without the system going kablooey.

  6. netboy says:

    I’d tell them to go get stuffed and fight them. Worst case, you have a slight ding on your credit for a few years… T-Mobile tried to hit me for 700.00 in roaming charges back when they started the “free roaming” bit. I told them where to go, and never paid a dime. No hits on my credit. Hell, that was back in the early 90s!

  7. MamaBug says:

    don’t pay a freaking dime – and start your small claims case.
    I know that *I* don’t have an extra $2000 to throw away on fraudulent charges, even if they were holding my credit score hostage.
    Follow Abradax above – receipts, GPS, have THEM prove that you made the calls. Don’t fork open your wallet, and tell them if they ding your score you’ll take em to court for that too (or at least immediately dispute it somehow).

    • Tim says:

      Well, I’m willing to bet that a judge would place the burden on the consumer to prove that he didn’t make the calls. If it’s a court case, he could subpoena any GPS records, call records, data records and the like though.

      The trouble is that I’m not sure if proving he didn’t make the calls would make a judge rule in his favor.

      • Gulliver says:

        The judge would look at the contract and say, it is contract law 101, Hey kid, take better care of your phone. Your beef is with the person who used the phone, not with TMobile. Next case.

      • coren says:

        He was out of the country, which means he got his passport stamped (at least it’s very likely he did). Since Tmobile can produce records that show where the call originated from, he can prove he wasn’t there, and therefore couldn’t make the call.

        If they even show up.

        • AmandaLoo says:

          The only case here is with the person that made the calls, (who sounds like he’s probably judgment proof). T-mobile did nothing wrong. The OP contracted a service with T-mobile, T-mobile provided the service. period. Imagine if we’re not talking about a cellphone here, but a house/land-line phone. If you left your front door open and went out of the country and a guy walked into your house and make $6000 in long distance calls, you wouldn’t call the phone company and say “hey, i didn’t make these calls, you can’t charge me for them.” The only case you would have is with the guy who walked in your front door and made the long distance calls. Haven’t you seen people’s court? Come on! ;-)

        • regis-s says:

          I’m pretty sure it’s in the contract that the owner of the phone is responsible for any charges until it is reported as lost/stolen.

  8. Sparty999 says:

    You haven’t gone far enough up the chain of command… It also wouldn’t hurt to provide T-Mobile with your tarvel itineray, and proof you were out of the country.

  9. sopmodm14 says:

    whats the hit for a flawless credit history ? can’t u just write off the debt ?

    if a call is my from your phone, but not authorized by you, you shouldn’t be liable

    • Gulliver says:

      Where do you get this idea? Your theory suggests if somebody steals your car, and you still owe money on it, you can stop paying the loan on it. NO NO, the car was stolen so its not my fault. Well yes, it is. They loaned YOU the money. The fact it was stolen does not matter. Take that up with the guy who stole it. If your car is worth 5,000 and you owe $10k, the insurance pays the value, you are stuck with the rest. The same would hold true if your house burned to the ground.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        False analogy. If my car was stolen, and I reported it as such, 1) my insurance would cover it, minus the deductible, and 2) I’d be exonerated of any illegal usage of the car during the time it was not in my possession (you know, like camera-captured moving violations or parking tickets) once I could prove I was not in possession of the car.

        “Fermin” should have claimed the phone was stolen, not “thrown away.”

        • Gulliver says:

          Which would be a lie. It is not a false analogy since he would still be responsible for the payments. If there were parking tickets it is associated with the plate. He did not report any theft, and the responsibility would only cease once he did report it stolen. In fact, even if it was not stolen, and you lent it to a friend, YOU are responsible for your plate.

  10. n0th1ng says:

    1. I would have gotten that offer in writing. Getting an offer from some random account rep over the phone won’t make me sleep at night.

    2. all phones that use SIM cards let you “lock” the sim or require a password on use, also there are 3rd party programs that can be had for a few $$ that add a second layer of security over the pin code. Think about it, all phones in use have the potential to be used like this, so why would you not want to have extra security on your phone.

    • tcp100 says:

      This.

      Always use the PIN lock on your phone AND the SIM lock. Yes, it takes a few seconds more to get in when you pick up the phone to use it (not when receiving a call) but it can save you substantial headaches.

      Cell phones, especially these days, are not just telephones. With iTunes and blackberry AppWorld, they’re basically point-of-sale devices tied to your account. Protect it like you would other financial instruments.

  11. thewritejerry says:

    I’m not an OP blamer by habit, but…

    “So I find myself without a cellphone, a $6000 bill and my financial future on jeopardy because of some predatory tactic T-Mobile employs and the FCC not doing anything about it.”

    Incorrect. you are without a cellphone, etc. because your mother threw away the phone and a thief used it to run up the bill. Why should T-Mobile be on the hook?

    I do agree that once both parties agreed to a reduced bill of $2000 it was wrong of T-Mobile to change the deal. They should certainly be held accountable for that.

    But none of the situation leading up to this has anything to do with T-Mobile.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      Because the actual administrative cost to T-Mobile is much, much smaller than $6000 dollars. It does NOT cost that amount if you look at network usage costs. He should have contacted their fraud dept. and the police dept. and not the high balance dept. He should still attempt to contact someone whose sole job isn’t to get you to pay.

      • Pavlov's Dog says:

        I’m not sure that you can say that T-Mobile actually “agreed” to the $2,000 when you get down to it. Without actually seeing the contract I can’t say with certainty but just about any professionally drafted contact these days has a provision that explicitly requires that modifications must be made in writing and this would most certainly be a modification. I recognize that there could be an argument that the person with whom he spoke was cloaked with apparent authority to cut the deal; however, the OP would have to fight that one out in court.

      • shanelee24 says:

        Yes, the cost to T-Mobile is much lower. But if we only paid what it cost the company, they would go bankrupt. It is a profit motivated organization, and they exist to make money. So the argument that we should only pay what it costs a company to operate is ignorent at best. Im tired of this argument, as we hear it all the time.

    • tz says:

      TMobile has a duty to limit its damages. If it would be reasonable to shut-off the phone at a far lower billing amount, TMobile has to attempt to limit its damages from fraudulent use. He should file the police report, etc. and would have to pay something, but at some point TMobile is cooperating in being defrauded or it is part of their own negligence.

    • buddyedgewood says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Why would any cell phone company give in to this? It wasn’t their fault, so this one time, I’m on the side of the big company. Plus this guy’s story sounds fishy to me. And the dog ate my home work… Why would his mother throw away a phone? Probably sounded fishy to T-Mobile as well, that’s why they’re demanding $4k. He should consider himself lucky they came down from the $6k.

  12. AllanG54 says:

    If I’m not mistaken, most phone contracts say that you’re responsible for calls made until you report the phone lost/stolen etc. This is where they may have the OP. And, they’re still apparently willing to give him 33% off the bill. As crappy as it sounds, I don’t see where T-Mobile should have to eat more than this.

  13. shepd says:

    File a police report. Get a prosecutor involved, or at least submit a John Doe lawsuit. Subpeona all phone records from T-Mobile. Start doing some detective work. Subpeona and GPS records T-Mobile might have on the phone. Sue the thief, get your money back, put him in prison.

    I’m absolutely serious. And, yes, it will be a lot of work for T-Mobile to give you all that info, or so they will claim. So what, they want your $6,000, you better make them work for it.

    • bror says:

      Why would he have to subpoena the records? Just log in to t-mobile and look around- It’s all under his name in his account.

  14. pantheonoutcast says:

    If he was out of the country, why doesn’t he submit a copy of his plane ticket or itinerary to T-Mobile? If, for instance, he was in Spain, and the calls were coming from Atlanta, obviously he didn’t make them.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Yeah, but he could have lent it to a friend while he was out of the country.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        He could have, or he could have smart enough to react differently when he saw the bill. For instance, he could have said that while he was away, someone broke into his house (or maybe even say it was in his car) and stole his phone, and then filed a police report to support his story instead of calling up T-Mobile and saying, “My mommy threw out all my comic books, baseball cards and my cell phone.”

        • HannahK says:

          He should lie to the police? WTF?

          • pantheonoutcast says:

            “Officer, when I returned home, I realized that my phone was missing. There was no reason for me to bring my phone with me on vacation, so I left it right here on the dining room table.”

            “I see, and does anyone else have the keys to your house?”

            “Well, my mom, but really, she’s 70 years old. She’s didn’t come over here and rack up $6000 worth of calls on my cell phone and then disappear with it.”

            “Well, did you ask her?”

            “Yes, and she said beyond a shadow of a doubt that she did not see my cell phone.”

            There’s not one lie in that exchange.

            • cluberti says:

              There is withholding evidence, which an investigation would be likely to find. And then it’s treated the same as lying, under obstruction of justice charges. You just don’t lie to the police – you keep your mouth shut if they’re asking you questions as your 5th amendment right in the US allows, but you don’t claim something was stolen from your house when it wasn’t, especially not with that story.

              • pantheonoutcast says:

                My college girlfriend’s apartment was broken into while she wasn’t home, and two laptops and a camera were stolen. When the police arrived, they asked her where she was at the time, if anyone else was home, and if she could identify what was missing. They took one picture (one!) of the broken window, and “dusted for prints,” which consisted of smearing black powder all over her living room wall. The responding officer gave her his card and told her to call him in 24 hours. She did, and was given a report number to send to her insurance company.

                That was it. There was no further investigation. Maybe Fermin lives in Mayberry, or some place where the police have nothing better to do, but in a big city, an investigation into a stolen cell phone would end at his doorstep.

                • Gulliver says:

                  And he can make the claim for the value of the phone to his insurance, and then use it to pay the bill he owes TMobile. Did you gf get all the items from her computer as well? Photos? Songs? Programs? And she would have only gotten the depreciated value of the item,
                  Basically you are saying for the OP to lie. You wonder why corporations never work with consumers. YOU and your kind are why they distrust everybody. Why should they trust when you flaunt the virtue of being a liar. Rationalize it any way you want, but you suggested people obstruct justice AND file a false police report. Proves you are willing to break laws to get money. Which means if you think it worked for you, you would take somebody;s wallet and steal the money and LIE to police.
                  I guess in immoral land the ends justify the means

                  • pantheonoutcast says:

                    First of all, to respond to your previous comment to my hypothetical example, (which I hope isn’t being lost in translation because you wrote, “Then base don your set of facts there is no proof she even threw the phone out not is there?”) no police officer would ever talk to the mother beyond a two minute phone call. I think you’re under the impression that Briscoe and Logan are going come barging into her house and lean on her to uncover the shocking truth behind this nefarious caper. Reality is very rarely similar to fiction, however – what’s going to happen is a bored guy in a cheap tie is going to file some paperwork, and move on to the next case. And even if mom does get questioned, at most they would ask her if she had been to the house lately, to which even someone like my mom could respond, “Only very briefly to take care of his mail. My son Fermin was traveling the world! Would you like a hard candy?” That would be the end of the investigation.

                    As for the comment immediately preceding this one, let me address each of your points in turn.

                    “And he can make the claim for the value of the phone to his insurance, and then use it to pay the bill he owes TMobile.” – Oh yes, that $200 will really put a dent in the $4000 payday T-Mobile is trying to extort from him.

                    “Did you gf get all the items from her computer as well? Photos? Songs? Programs? And she would have only gotten the depreciated value of the item.” – No, maybe, who cares? And the insurance covered the actual value of the items stolen, not the “depreciated” value. It’s called “replacement cost coverage.” How do I know this? Because she got a check from her insurance company large enough to go out and buy all new items without dipping into her own funds.

                    “Basically you are saying for the OP to lie.” – As pointed out in my completely hypothetical example, at no point was a lie told. When he got home from vacation, his phone was gone. Truth. No one else had a key to his home. Truth. Mom did not make $6000 in phone calls. Truth. His mom did not see the phone at any point. Truth. (otherwise she wouldn’t have accidentally thrown it away, get it?) Mom came by to take care of the mail. Truth. If you have a moral problem with that, take it up with your priest, rabbi or imam. Don’t preach to me.

                    “YOU and your kind are why they distrust everybody. Why should they trust when you flaunt the virtue of being a liar.” – Right, it’s “people like me”, not the greedy profit motive behind every single action taken by every single corporation. What’s more immoral – 1) Charging someone $6000 for a product or service that a) clearly doesn’t cost anywhere that amount and b) the customer clearly never used, or 2) Being creative when it comes to dealing with rectifying the situation? Also, no one mentioned “flaunting” anything.

                    “Rationalize it any way you want, but you suggested people obstruct justice AND file a false police report.” – At best, it’s a very undeveloped police report. Leaving out details isn’t lying. Substituting details is. I’ll give you an example. If Fermin was indeed in Spain, as I postulated, and someone asked him where he was, if answered, “France,” he’d be lying. If he answered, “Europe,” he’d be telling the truth. Get it? And if you’ve ever been pulled over for any reason, chances are, you’ve lied to get out of it. That’s what people do. It’s called “self-preservation.”

                    “Proves you are willing to break laws to get money. Which means if you think it worked for you, you would take somebody;s wallet and steal the money and LIE to police.” – Slippery slope fallacy of logic. If someone didn’t pay state use tax, does that mean he is one step away from armed robbery? Both are “breaking the law” to “get money.” Also, taking someone’s wallet is theft, because it deprives the original owner of his property. T-Mobile would not be deprived of anything, except maybe a few cents in actual usage costs.

                    “I guess in immoral land the ends justify the means” – I don’t know where “immoral land” is. Is it Los Angeles? My morals are not the same as yours by virtue of us having two very different philosophies, life experiences, and education. Read Machiavelli. The ends always justify the means. And even if you don’t buy that, I ask again, which is more “immoral”: Trying to stick someone with a $6000 bill for some phone calls, or devising a creative (and again, totally hypothetical) way to protect oneself and avoid that extortion?

                    Thanks for your comments, though; I do so enjoy a challenge on a Saturday morning.

                    • MMD says:

                      Does it feel good to rationalize sleazy behavior? What’s it like to have such a shifty moral compass and be interested in nothing but your own convenience?

                    • pantheonoutcast says:

                      Feels pretty good, actually, knowing that, somewhere, I’m making some self-righteous, judgmental, intractable fundamentalist uncomfortable.

                      All people’s morals are “shifty.” All of them. It is irrational and impossible to think one can “do the right thing” in 100% of all instances. Life isn’t so black and white.

                • MMD says:

                  So it’s ok to lie since no one will find out.

            • Gulliver says:

              Then base don your set of facts there is no proof she even threw the phone out not is there? Police to mom: Did you enter your sons home? Yes Did you touch any thing at his home? I only moved the papers on the table. Police to OP? Where was your phone exactly? On the table.
              So mom lost your phone, nobody broke in your house now did they?

            • MMD says:

              Sure there are. They’re lies of omission.

    • davidc says:

      Wow … how many times do people have to explain this?

      If a person is only responsible for calls they make, then a husband could give his phone to his wife and a wife could give her phone to the husband and they would never have to pay another bill for the rest of their lives. Right? I mean, the husband didn’t make the calls … the wife didn’t make the calls.

      Again, the bill is for the account no matter who is using the phone.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        “Wow … how many times do people have to explain this?”

        Perhaps until someone explains it correctly. If the phone was reported lost or stolen, he wouldn’t be responsible for the bill. His mistake was telling T-Mobile that his mom threw it out (and perhaps giving his mom the keys to his house in the first place).

        • Radiating says:

          If a husband and wife switched phones and racked up fraudulent charges not to pay bills, they’d both be arrested and have to pay 10x as much plus face jail.

  15. RayanneGraff says:

    Is his mom dumb or something? What kind of idiot throws away a CELL PHONE?

    Make her ass pay the bill!

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      I have no idea why she would throw away a cell phone.

      This almost sounds like bullshit.

      If I was cleaning up junk mail, I think I would notice (see, feel) if there was a cellphone mixed in with a pile of light papers.

      • obits3 says:

        My mom did the same thing to me. She got mad because my room was a mess and trashed a bunch of stuff including a USB stick with photos of our dog while he was alive. The worst part was that her room was such a mess, but instead of cleaning her room, she invades my space. I hate hypocrisy.

        • Gulliver says:

          The don’t live in her house.

          • obits3 says:

            Thank you for your wonderful insight /sarc

            The only reason I live at home is because my Mom doesn’t have enough money to meet her expenses. I would rather live at home for now, than have to pay for an apartment AND pay for my Mom’s expenses. I was mad, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll leave my Mom and let the house get taken for not paying the taxes.

        • Darury says:

          So you’re comparing a USB stick to a Blackberry?

          I’m with the others that find the story a bit difficult to swallow. 1) How often are people going thru your garbage? Do you throw away valuables often enough that its profitable for them? 2) They managed to find all of the pieces for the disassembled Blackberry in the garbage bag?

          I can’t imagine anyone digging thru my garbage since pretty much every bag gets several rounds of coffee filters mixed in.

      • jefeloco says:

        There is a lot of his story that sounds like bull shit. Taking the battery out and leaving on/under a pile of junk mail. His mom throwing it out. Someone finding it and putting a battery in, then making a crap ton of calls. If the guy was calling in the states, the bill would have been much lower so I think the guy was making calls to another country…or the OP took his phone with him and racked up a crap ton of international calls and now doesn’t want to pay the bill.

      • regis-s says:

        Depends what kind of cellphone. I’ve seen some pretty small ones. Depends what kind of junkmail as well. One or two envelopes? A stack of fliers that stores send out all the time? It could be quite easy if someone isn’t paying attention. People do stupid things all the time.

      • StitchPirate says:

        I’m not the OP, but I could see how she would do it. My mother does stuff like that all the time, I’ve lost various important mail, bills, etc., because she goes on these cleaning binges and forgets which pile was the “throw out” pile and which one was the “keep” pile. I learned pretty early on that my mother does this, though, so now I know not to leave anything valuable or important where she might throw it out. I spent many nights in my teen years digging through the newspapers in the recycling bin looking for my homework, but now I know better and I know not to leave stuff on the table when I visit the house.

  16. NarcolepticGirl says:

    ” While I was out my mother came over to do some cleaning and she threw swept all the junk mail along with my cellphone into the trash and threw it out. Apparently someone found the cellphone and proceeded to make over $6000 worth of long distance calls.”

    hahhaaha. really?
    Okay. I GUESS this could happen. Someone’s mother throwing away a blackberry in the trash.

    So, did you fax a copy of the police report over to T-Mobile?

    • theycallmeGinger says:

      Yep, sounds fishy to me! “My mom threw it out. Oh, those moms, thinking gadgets are useless trash, amiright? Yeah, you understand.”

      Why didn’t he just say it was simply stolen? Maybe he thought he’d get more sympathy if it was ol’ meddling mom’s fault.

      • tsukiotoshi says:

        It sounds to me like she just scooped up the junk mail with the cellphone in it. If you think this can’t happen, you should reconsider your position. My mom once threw out a digital camera in the same fashion.

        • NarcolepticGirl says:

          How do you not notice the weight of a smart phone when you throw away some papers? and how would the phone not fall out of the pile?

    • rpm773 says:

      Yeah, this story has bullshit written all over it.

      Mom didn’t throw away junk mail. It was the OP’s stash of porno mags.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      Police report? There’s no proof of theft.

  17. chaesar says:

    sue your mother for 6k, then sue her for naming you Fermin

  18. corkangel76 says:

    File a complaint with the public utilities comission.

  19. humphrmi says:

    Here’s an article from 2007, maybe it will help:

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/10/ca_lost_cells.html

    I realize it’s about AT&T, but the salient point here is that if this happened in California, they do not allow any carriers to charge customers for calls made from stolen phones.

  20. Mackinstyle1 says:

    Fucking criminal. Imagine if credit cards worked this way.

    Oooh Mackinstyle is making laptop purchases in South Africa today. Lets wait until it maxes out before stopping it, then making him pay for the laptops.

    • evilcharity says:

      This! Why can’t mobile phone companies operate in a fashion similar to credit cards? I suppose it will take some sort of legal action to force them to…but seriously, who in their right mind would rack up $6000 in calls in ONE MONTH on purpose?! They should be able to flag that as irregular activity when compared to past usage data and shut the phone off & force the account holder to contact them to have service reinstated.

  21. Snarkster says:

    Maybe this was mom’s way of saying she doesn’t want to clean your house?

    Take mom to one of the TV courts–they’ll love this story–and I think the show will pay the judgement.

    • brinks says:

      Oh man…Judge Judy would rip mommy a new one!

      • Snarkster says:

        I was thinking she’d rip on Fermin (snicker) for having mom do his cleaning.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          I guess Judge Judy would rip on both of them: her for being so blind as to throw a cellphone out with the junk mail, and him for leaving it there without locking the phone/taking out the SIM card. Put that on pay-per-view! I’d pay to watch that.

  22. ellemdee says:

    T-mobile technically extends a credit line to postpaid/contract customers, and you are paying on that “credit” when you pay your bill. Your account balance can continue to rise until it hits the limit of that credit line. It’s an extra safety measure to protect from stuff like this if you make sure that your credit limit is low (say, 2-3 times your regular bill to prevent shutoffs if you go over one month or pay a bill late). If you phone is lost or stolen, theoretically, the finder couldn’t run up a $6K bill if you only have a $300 credit line on the account.

  23. ckspores says:

    I’d make your mom pay for it. She was the careless one, throwing away junk mail without looking to ensure there was nothing important in it…and I am not even talking about a cell phone. If she would’ve looked to ensure there wasn’t legit mail in the pile (like your power bill, etc) she would’ve seen that the cell phone was there.

    Also, why is your mom coming over to your house to clean?

    While I agree that TMobile should’ve stuck to the agreed amount of $2000 the mother and her carelessness is to blame here-not the phone company.

  24. FiorellaMajumdar says:

    You didn’t lock your phone, so tough. Pay up.

    • brinks says:

      Yeah, but he left the phone at home. It’s a reasonable assumption it will be safe.

      His mom should pay up. What an idiot.

  25. TasteyCat says:

    Fight. Don’t just pay. Presumably you have plane tickets and/or other records that would say you were not making calls when/where they say you were.

  26. brinks says:

    Since the phone wasn’t reported as stolen in a timely manner, despite it not being the OP’s fault, I don’t think T-Mobile is obligated to help him out. However, the fact that they offered a compromise and then took it back is just ridiculous.

    The OP needs to give them proof that he was out of the country and his phone wasn’t (where were the calls made from?). The $2000 they originally offered is fair…but his mom needs to pay it. She’s the dumbass who threw out a perfectly good phone.

  27. shlni says:

    I would hire a lawyer as well. Surely he has records (plane tickets, hotel receipts, etc.) stating that he was in fact out of the country when these fraudulent calls were made. T-mobile has all the records where the calls were made from and I’m sure it’s on his account online as well. And I hope he did report the phone stolen.

    In any case, who the hell racks up $6000 on a phone? What kind of calls were these?!

  28. bben says:

    I refuse to have a cell contract. Luckily my company furnishes a phone right now. However whenever I do have to get my own it will be a pay a monthly low flat rate or no phone. I see too many of these type posts here. The government will protect the right of the mega phone companies to rip off their customers as long as the corporations can afford to buy the legislators, judges and regulatory people.

  29. Girthbomb says:

    OP would be able to buy a PrePaid Cell.

  30. Mike says:

    “Im so scared my credit history will be ruined for a decade or more. “

    Relax, it is a cell phone. Your credit might have a ding on it, but if it is otherwise perfect this little incident won’t hurt your credit very much at all. This person seems obsessed with their credit rating. I have several things on my credit report which are not good, including an ongoing feud with my former health insurance company. But my report says I dispute the charges and my credit has stayed about 750 the entire time. This will not hurt your credit much, if at all to be honest.

  31. FilthyHarry says:

    If it was an active phone in his name, how are the calls fraudulent? Was the service cancelled? Phone reported missing or stolen?

    When you pay for phone service you’re not paying for the right for YOU to make calls, you’re paying for the phone to be activated.

    So while these may have been unauthoriaed calls, unwanted calls. I don’t think they’re fraudulent.

  32. frank64 says:

    They either need to let us opt for credit limits or they need to right off things like this. Not allowing credit limits seem like they are setting themselves up for these windfall profits. Not very nice, and I think every state should follow California and make it illegal.

    The thing is I am kind of a libertarian, it just seems there are too many companies who have no shame in screwing the customer, and we don’t seem to care until we specifically get screwed.

  33. TheSDBrat says:

    For those of you that still think this is a “theft”, where in the thread did you glean the fact that this phone was STOLEN? Last i checked, most municipalities recognize that once you THROW SOMETHING OUT, whether its a Van Gogh or a phone, boo hoo its gone, fair game and up for grabs….mom is the ONLY culprit here and somewhere in this story is a lesson to be learned.

    • Reading Rainbow says:

      Good thing you threw out that paper with your social security number – now it’s MINE!

    • frank64 says:

      You could make the case for the phone, although if you find something of value, I think one should try to find the rightful owner. You can’t make the case for the service charges. If you find a phone and use $6,000 of service, there is no reasonable way you can say it isn’t theft. I think you might try though!

    • Gulliver says:

      Taking the phone is not the theft. The service was not for the person who made the calls. By your twisted logic, if you throw out credit card statement with your number on it, I can use it for purchasing products with it. I can have the number (or the statement), the crime is in using the service. Can we also assume anybody who leaves their car unlocked with keys in it, really don’t want it, so we can take it?

      • Buckus says:

        Agreed, taking the phone was not theft since it was allegedly in the trash at that point. However, using it without having it transferred to a different account is theft – theft of service.

    • Abradax says:

      Reasonable man standard.

      What reasonable person goes “Hey! A free blackberry! And LOOK, its already active and I can make 6,000 dollars worth of free calls!”

      The person who made the phone calls knew they were doing something wrong. That would be enough to charge with theft/fraud.

      • TheSDBrat says:

        Again, if it was in the TRASH CAN, GARBAGE CAN, etc. really, would that thot cross your mind??? I can see your point if this phone was found lying in the street, but it WASNT. It was in the TRASH. How many times do we hear about dumpster divers finding valuable items from someone that failed to recognize their worth? I will agree that it would be righteous of T-Mobile to help him out given his circumstances or at the very least, offer a financial cap on future billings to ensure this doesnt happen again, but they are under NO obligation. He never reported it stolen under after the fact. By then, as far as T-Mobile knows, he simply allowed his phone to be used without thot to the ramifications. I agree with Brinks…

  34. scoobydoo says:

    Bottom line is this: mobile operators need to implement better fraud protection. If someone pays $100/month for their phone, and suddenly $6000 in charges show up, they should realize something is wrong. If I charge $100 on my credit card, and suddenly make a purchase out of my ordinary spending pattern, I’ll get a fraud alert triggered. That mobile operators don’t have this ability shows they are doing as little as they can to prevent fraud. It won’t help the OP, but I do wish the FCC would look into this.

  35. nybiker says:

    Since everyone else has offered various options, I am just going to point out something:
    “financial future on jeopardy” is wrong. Your financial future is not ON Jeopardy. If it was then we’d all watch and see how it turns out.
    But your financial future might be IN jeopardy if you don’t resolve the situation.

    Not quite the same thing, though, as standing in line vs standing on line.

    Years ago (1994) I prevented a similar problem (losing things by accidentally tossing them) from developing. In a prior job, I was able to buy U.S. Savings Bonds. By 1994 I had accumulated quite a few of them. I decided I was going to use them to help pay for my first PC. I was and still am somewhat of a clutter person. I had a box of papers and whatnot that I was going through to ensure nothing of value was in it. My friend who was helping said I should just toss the box. No, I said. I am looking through it. Sure enough there more Savings Bonds tucked away in the box. My desk had the larger quantity of them, so if I had tossed the box, I probably would have never missed them. But good thing I did. This is why I don’t have anyone throw out any papers of mine. And as for my mom coming over to help clean. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

    Good luck getting your problem solved.

  36. MarkSweat says:

    File a suit alleging negligent enablement of theft and unjust enrichment from the theft. (And that’s one of those things that class action lawyers would love!)

    • cluberti says:

      Not bad, actually. If T-Mobile reasonably has records showing your call habits for a period of time at something small, like $100 / mo, and then they see you’ve done that much in 24 hours, then…. this might actually have some merit. It would depend on the judge allowing it, of course, but it is an interesting idea.

      • Gulliver says:

        Except it might be reasonable that he went overseas and somebody might be calling him there and suddenly has a huge bill. If you use that standard, I have a credit card that has a $20,000 limit. If I usually use $500 a month on it, then suddenly I do some major home renovations that cost $15,000, the bank will deny the purchase until YOU prove it is ok. I can imagine the next consumerist letter about BOA not allowing them to purchase $15,000 because they think I a a thief.

  37. Mondoz says:

    Why does this work differently than fraudulent charges placed on stolen/lost credit cards?

    One of my credit cards were stolen a few years ago. The CC company contacted me about the charges someone was putting on it. At that point, I didn’t even know the card was missing.
    The CC company canceled the card and said I wasn’t responsible for the charges.

    Why should stolen/lost phone charges be different?

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      A credit card is not a cell phone. All you have to do to risk fraud on a CC is to publicise the number to the right person. And to use it, you have to give it to strangers all the time, so there’s an inherent risk involved, and the law has made the CC companies responsible for not doing their part to mitigate it, but of course we end up paying for the monitoring in higher fees and percentages.

      With a cell, there’s no inherent risk in using it. You don’t have to hand your cell off to someone else to make a call to your girlfriend. So I can understand the phone companies not to spend all that money doing monitoring when negligence on the part of the user is typically at fault.

  38. nakkypoo says:

    I’ve been with T-mobile for almost 10 years now, and I’ve never had a problem. They have always reversed overage charges. That being said, what has Tmo done wrong here?

    If I left my car keys on the hood of my car, and someone came along, took it any drove over a busload of nuns, my insurance company would come after me.

    Just like killing nuns, there is an actual cost to making phone calls. Why should these be considered fraudulent, and why shouldn’t OP have to pay this bill?

  39. slimeburg says:

    Sounds like the same mom that throws out the priceless old baseball cards and comic books. Get revenge on her by giving her about a dozen cats for her next birthday. They will torture her in ways you never could…

  40. Buckus says:

    Seriously, didja just tell T-Mobile the phone was stolen? They should have dropped all charges at that point.

  41. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    Sorry, OP, but if you were intending on leaving the country and not taking your phone with you, there would have been one simple way of avoiding this: take the SIM card out of the phone. You said you’re using T-mobile, which IIRC is a GSM based network. Therefore that Blackberry would not have functioned without the SIM card. Sucks to be you, I know. As for T-mobile reneging on your agreement, yeah, that sucks too, but that one mistake you made would have avoided all of this to begin with.

  42. ma1234 says:

    You owe T-Mobile $6,000. Deal with it and don’t be so careless next time.

  43. DanKelley98 says:

    T-Mobile….please get real. Consider the circumstances. Your “real” costs (before mark-up) will not bankrupt you. I promise.

  44. blag says:

    This is your Freudian slip, dude:

    “I reluctantly agreed as I had no other parent options…”

    For future reference: Keep your nosy ass busy body mother out of your dwelling while you are away. What is she, your maid? Obviously not a very good one. Let her go. You’re a big boy now.

  45. starmac says:

    Am I the only one that thinks this sounds fishy? Maybe I am too trusting of my neighborhood garbage man, but if the phone is in a huge bag with other garbage – eventually, wouldn’t the battery be separated from the phone when it gets to the truck/dump since they weren’t attached? When I see my garbage man, he throws the garbage in the truck and it gets all mixed up with the other garbage/crap/food in the dump and smushed. I’m sure at the landfill there can be some treasures, but if he was only gone a month and a half ago and the phone racked up that much so fast…I am thinking overused the phone while he was gone roaming.

    If not, sorry I suspected you and I hope you get your sitch resolved.

  46. Wrathernaut says:

    Is there like some 900 number criminals call that credits them a percentage of the number that calls it? or are there people who have been waiting their whole lives to make $6,000 worth of long distance calls? Do they have a app in the app store that costs $6000 that they just buy with anyone’s phone they happen across?

    Seriously, how do you rack up $6000 on a phone bill?

    • frank64 says:

      I have Sprint and twice in the last 3 months one person has hacked into my account and called some Afircan country. First one was 5K second one was 3.5K. This happened because of a issue at Sprint and each time they took down the charges. Calling to other countries is expensive. I don’t know if you can take international calling off of your service, but I should try that. I tried to get a limit on my account after the first time, but they said it wasn’t possible. Too bad, because it would have saved the second time.

      The international calls takes a day for Sprint to even find out about them.

      • AliceAitch says:

        Dunno about Sprint, but Verizon offers the option to shut off international calling, and 900 numbers too.

  47. AmandaLoo says:

    This seems pretty cut and dry here. T-Mobile even states their policy on their website. It’s the OP’s fault here for not setting up a pin lock code on his phone for situations like these. It’s obviously between him and his mom. T-mobile has no fault here. It is an unfortunate set of circumstances in that he was in a situation (out of country) that he didn’t realize his phone was stolen for quite sometime. In my opinion, T-mobile was gracious to cut him the break that they did. For all T-mobile knows, he could have made those calls himself, gave it to a friend, etc. Best he can do is file a police report, but even then T-mobile is not at fault here at all.

    T-mobile’s site:
    “If your phone is lost or stolen, immediately call T-Mobile Customer Care. You are responsible for all calls made on your phone, so contacting T-Mobile as soon as you realize your phone is missing will help prevent any unauthorized use and additional charges. If you discover that your phone was actually just lost, and you find it, we can always restore service.”

    http://support.t-mobile.com/doc/tm23337.xml;jsessionid=lNLWF18hg__4qKaARs?

  48. MikeVx says:

    $6000 is a major ouch, but in the end there is no excuse for not enabling every security feature on your phone that circumstances permit.

    I have a carrier-unlocked T-Mobile Blackberry 7100 that I use on AT&T (I picked up 3 of them on clearance from an on-line dealer, real cheap.) The handset is locked with a password, 10 failures and it hard-locks. I don’t know if it is possible to reset it. The SIM is locked with an 8-digit code, and you only get 3 tries before it asks for a PUK.

    I even have a password lock on the handset I use my Canadian pre-paid SIM in. The SIM is not locked because I can’t get the default code, but as it is pre-paid I’m only out the unused balance if someone pries it out of the phone.

    And yes, you can take the fact that I have a Canadian SIM as a commentary on AT&Ts international rates. Even only going to Canada twice a year, the SIM is worth it.

  49. mbd says:

    Sorry, but the OP is responsible for all calls up to the point that he notified T-Mobile that the phone was lost/stolen. There is no law or regulation exempting you from paying those charges.

  50. JollyJumjuck says:

    Does the OP’s mom often come to the house and indiscriminately sweep everything into the garbage? If not, it’s NOT the OP’s fault, it’s the mother’s (actually it’s the asshole thief/fraudster’s fault, shame you can’t track him down and put the boots to him). Could the OP reasonably have known his mother was going to come over and do what she did?
    Yes, the OP will probably have to resolve it. Also he should stay far, far away from T-Mobile, because whoever is responsible for tracking unusual usage is completely useless and ought to be fired.

  51. cvstrat says:

    Section 16 of the T-Mobile terms and conditions states that it is your responsibility to report your phone lost or stolen. Any calls/data/etc used between the time of loss and the time you report it lost are considered to be authorized charges and you would likely be responsible for them.

    They’re not going to be able to know whether she really did or didn’t throw the phone away, people do stupid stuff all of the time (and lie equally as often) so they usually give you the benefit of the doubt, and even though you are responsible for 100 percent of the charges, they meet you halfway or so.

    Like it’s been said T-Mobile and AT&T phones can lock at the phone level, or for added security the SIM level, rendering it impossible for a thief to use your service. So even at this point if you are dumb enough to throw it away and not report it for who knows how long, you at least won’t get screwed with charges.

    Read section 16 if interested:
    http://www.t-mobile.com/Templates/Popup.aspx?WT.z_unav=ftr__TC&PAsset=Ftr_Ftr_TermsAndConditions&print=true

  52. Extended-Warranty says:

    This story is complete BS. You didn’t leave it behind, your mom didn’t throw it away, someone didn’t find it at the dump and run up all of those calls.

  53. Intheknow says:

    When I bought my then 16-year-old daughter a cell phone from Sprint (on the family plan) a couple of years ago, I specifically told them that she was to have NO texting capability because at the time it cost to send each individual text cost money. They were supposed to have disabled texting from her phone at the point of purchase. The first month I didn’t notice any difference in the phone bill, but the next month, apparently, some of her friends started texting her and she found that she did have the ability to text and be texted to. She THOUGHT she had found a loophole. WRONG! The very next month she managed to ring up over $900 worth of texts. I took this up with T-mobile, but nothing. They wanted every single penny of the $900. I admit that my daughter was in the wrong once she found out she could text, but come on T-mobile cut me a little slack – That’s a house payment!

    • Intheknow says:

      Oops, that was T-mobile that I had the contract with at the time. I have since switched to Sprint. Sorry for the confusion.

  54. Bog says:

    What is forgotten is that you have the phone number of everyone called by the person who stole the phone and used it. They can be fucked with if needed to provide the information of who was calling them on a certain day or time. If they say some lie like “I don’t know” then ask them how they can have long conversations over multiple calls. You can sue and compel the recipients of illegal calls made from your phone.

    You have the phone number of anyone called from your phone. It should be no problem to get the information about each person who was called. Think of of it like a reverse class action.

    Yeah, it is a bit of a pain to work the system but usually you can get the information you need to take care of business.

  55. SlappyFrog says:

    Not sure why the dude agreed to the $2000 in the first place, wouldn’t a better course of action to have been reported it stolen and then protested the fraudulent charges?

  56. Keliken says:

    You have your own place and your mother is cleaning up after you? Who piled the junk mail on top of your phone? Why are you not shredding? Well I don’t think you deserve to suffer this problem I can see how it happened. Get a lawyer. And don’t let your mother clean your house, regardless of where you are.

  57. Keliken says:

    You have your own place and your mother is cleaning up after you? Who piled the junk mail on top of your phone? Why are you not shredding? Well I don’t think you deserve to suffer this problem I can see how it happened. Get a lawyer. And don’t let your mother clean your house, regardless of where you are.

  58. Keliken says:

    You have your own place and your mother is cleaning up after you? Who piled the junk mail on top of your phone? Why are you not shredding? Well I don’t think you deserve to suffer this problem I can see how it happened. Get a lawyer. And don’t let your mother clean your house, regardless of where you are.

  59. Bkhuna says:

    You have your mother coming over to clean for you while you’re away. You’ve got more problems than a lost cell phone.

    Ever thought of locking/disabling your phone while you’re away?

  60. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    How does he know that his mother threw it out? That is just supposition. She remembers throwing it out? “Oh yes, that black thing with the screen and lots of little buttons – I threw it out”

    Someone rifled through his garbage and found it? Again, supposition.

    If I were the OP I’d track down the user (check the phone log & GPS- if available), take your evidence to the police, and sue in small claims court. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was someone he knows through 3 degrees of separation.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      Did she take out the trash as well? She had to have I think. I can’t imagine the OP didn’t look for his cell before doing that when he returned. I would hope the trashcans would be emptied before you take a trip overseas. Why would the trash be filled up already when you got back to town?

      Too many holes in this story for me.

  61. BigRobot says:

    I’m a former employee with T-mobile’s fraud department (Risk Assessment) The big problem with this situation is that T-mobile has a loophole in the rules that states if you do not report your phone as lost or stolen, you are responsible for any charges up to the point that T-Mobile is notified.

    You may have a SMALL chance to rectify this with T-Mo by calling the Risk assessment department. If they can determine that none of the calls that were made have any connection to your normal account activity (i.e. the person wasn’t calling your friends or family, in which case it would be considered a “relationship” issue), they may decide that you aren’t responsible for the charges.

    Hope this helps.

  62. StrangeEmily says:

    Erm… the plane tickets and stuff would deffinatly help in making a great argument, but I’m pretty sure his mum already threw them out in the trash right???

  63. MacBenah says:

    I don’t understand. You aren’t liable for whatever some thief does with something he steals, whether it be your car, your gun, your phone… So why doesn’t this guy simply pay a lawyer (is so simple it would probably cost only a couple hundred dollars of lawyer-time) to point out to T-m that he wasn’t even in the country, therefore there is no way they can make him liable.

  64. balderdashed says:

    Although I’m not an attorney, the fact the “T Mobile let this go on until it (the fraudulent charges) passed the $6000 mark” might offer you one line of defense should they sue for the full amount. A plaintiff has a duty to mitigate damages, and cannot recover losses it could have avoided through reasonable efforts. So if my garden hose leaks into your basement and it’s my fault, you still can’t wait until the water rises to the ceiling and all your furniture is destroyed, just because you’d like me to pay for new furniture — not if you could have limited the damage through reasonable efforts. The question is whether it was reasonable in this situation for T Mobile to allow $6,000 worth of charges, before investigating or take some other action that would have cut its — and/or your — losses. A point worth arguing, I’d say.

  65. Bog says:

    You could take take all the numbers called and publish them on the internet.

    Yeah – for a good time call 202-456-7890.

    Backtrack who took the phone. I for one would harass the people whose numbers were called in to telling you who called them.

  66. Heini says:

    T-Mobile is a german company. There is a big cultural gap. Over there, if you are an adult, you are treated as an adult and you take the responsibility for your action. If something goes wrong on your side of the contract, you have to pay for it.
    They dont have warning labels on theier hotel windows saying “Dont jump out, the height is heigher than it seems”
    Actual is the natural way to weed the biggest idiots out of the breeding cycle.
    So maybe think about joining the world adulthood and pay for the damage you or your family caused.
    ( By the way, your parents sure spend more than 6000 $ on raising you )

  67. mikells43 says:

    yea make ur mother pay, it was her stupid actions. shes not supposed to be in ur crib ur a big boy now lol. how dumb is it to toss a phone out. i hope she feels good about this. and tech.. it was lost and or stolen so ur not responsible for any of it. how could u throw a cell phone away on accident? there not small like change or anything. hmm

  68. phallusu says:

    the story is SO phony – if YOU had six thousand dollars in fraudulent calls charged to your account allegedly made by strangers to strangers – why would YOU offer to pay a full third of those fraudulent charges for ANY reason … ?

  69. BlazerUnit says:

    First order of business: Slap mom.

  70. Carlee says:

    The OP would be responsible for calls made up until the point the phone was reported lost or stolen. Though he was out of the country, he could have given his phone to a friend and that friend racked up all those calls. There’s no way for T-Mobile to tell.

    Maybe the mom didn’t throw out the phone and was the one who made all those calls? (I’m being facetious, of course).

    Not sure if laws are the same everywhere regarding garbage, but I thought that people cannot take things out of other people’s trash cans? Isn’t it considered city property?

  71. Crashbass says:

    Sounds familiar. 6 years ago I switched to Tmobile. I bought my plan from a Cellphone vendor across the street from LACC in Los Angeles and had good service immedietly. Three months I went without recieving a bill from them and as I called their customer service line multiple times I was told this was normal. When I finally received my bill it was for $4000 for calls made to Cuba. When I told them there was no way I made those calls I was told I was still responsible. A lawyer friend told me they were right and what happened was my
    phone was cloned the moment my service was activated and this was normal. Good luck. They raped my credit anyway.

  72. mushpuppy says:

    Sue in small claims for a declaratory judgment that you don’t owe the debt. Subpoena T-Mobile’s cell tower records to help establish that the calls were made while you were out of country. Also provide proof of your travels. As these things only will provide circumstantial evidence, make sure you dress well for court and speak politely and respectfully to the Judge. Credibility will go a long way toward winning your case.

  73. MadConsumer says:

    Why is your mother still cleaning up after you? She needs to recognize your boundaries and that you are a grown up now! Really, now dispute all charges with T-Mobile and then find another phone company to do business with.

  74. bumblefoot2004 says:

    There’s something wrong with this story. How would Mom know the mail is junk mail without looking at each piece? If she did look, she would have found the Blackberry. If she didn’t look at the mail and just threw it all away, how did she know it was junk mail? See the paradox here?

  75. mick_slick@hotmail.ca says:

    I work for Sprint and we have a dedicated fraud dept. to investigate these kind of incidences. We would have quickly determined call pattern and found the customer wasn’t anywhere near his phone while the charges were incurred, as well as the usage difference. Having said that…first things first…TAKE THE KEYS FROM MOM AND HIRE A MAID!!! You’re old enuff to be responsible for your own housework!

  76. edd henderson says:

    As much as I hate Verizon, for so many reasons, their TOS states ‘if we determine that the calls are fraudulent, you will not be responsible for them”.

  77. xr1ddl3rx says:

    Just pay them in layers, trident layers.

  78. justanotherday2 says:

    I am so sorry to hear this has happened. You are going to have to sue as mentioned. You may not have to go to court because corporations play a numbers game. Tell everyone no! Then the people who take the time to file court papers, settle out of court with them. In court, they could lose and you not have to pay anything. Or they may go to court and try to settle while in court. There is a reason they do not have a cap. So they can do this. If they capped it off at say $500.00 then that is the most they will ever collect. Let it ride to $6000.00 then that is the most people might pay. Notice how they were willing to go to $4000.00 Start high like a used car salesman. They likely have insurance among other things and it did not cost them $6000.00 That is simply what they charged you. Besides. It’s fraud. It is not like a bankcard in which the bank actually has to eat the fraud. (Although they have insurance too and other tactics.) The bank would never let that happen. For T-mobile it is all gravy as it were. Get a lawyer. Then T-mobile will take you seriously. Don’t just tell them you have a lawyer. That means nothing. File the papers. Try to get some media attention as well. You tube twitter etc. Be careful. Corporations don’t like it when you tell the truth about them and will sue you for deformation of character. Yes. For telling the truth. They don’t expect to win, just put fear in the hearts of consumers. Get a lawyer. Before they trash your credit history. Again, I am so sorry to hear this. You are not the first and certainly will not be the last. This is the new playing field.