Please, Make The Imaginary DSL Bills Stop

It’s not that Whitney is stuck in a zombie debt situation. Her problem is that her debt never existed in the first place. She’s being billed for DSL service by “Frontier Communications” – which is a real company, but that doesn’t seem to be who she’s dealing with. The Frontier that’s billing Whitney is unreachable and apparently not real, despite their ability to generate bills, then sell them to a collection agency. If that’s the case, though, how did they get her credit card information to bill her?

I’ve been dealing with an awful case of fraud for the past year and am hoping Consumerist readers have some ideas on how I can resolve this quickly.

Here’s the short version:

Somehow, a company named Frontier Communications (that seems to be somehow linked to Verizon, my former DSL provider) got my credit card information and billed me about a hundred bucks’ worth of fraudulent charges for DSL service. I disputed the charges with my credit card company, but then I got a bill from a collections agency on behalf on Frontier. I disputed the charges with the collections agency, and they closed the account due to lack of response from Frontier, but now I’ve gotten a bill from ANOTHER collections agency. I don’t owe this money, and Frontier is a sham company that cannot be contacted by mail or phone, and I’ve never been able to log in to their site as a customer. How can I stop Frontier from hounding me ad infinitum?

Here’s the long version:

I used to use Verizon for my DSL service. Early in 2010, I recall getting a letter in the mail that mentioned something about some kind of service takeover of my DSL by a company called Frontier Communications. I never received any mail or billing instructions from Frontier, so pretty much ignored it and kept paying Verizon. In January of 2010, I moved across town, and contacted Verizon to have them switch my service over to my new apartment. They do. No problems so far.

In May, I moved from Seattle to San Francisco and called Verizon to cancel my service. No problems. Then, after moving to San Francisco, I started getting bills in the mail from Frontier Communications. I spent a long time trying to find some kind of account number or account transfer information on both Verizon’s site and Frontier’s. My Verizon account appeared to be completely settled, and I was unable to login to Frontier’s site at all (or contact Frontier in any way– the phone numbers they provide are a dead end).

So I looked at my past bills and realized that not only had Frontier been billing me for “service” since May, I’d been double and tripled billed by Frontier before then. (…without noticing, which makes me a bit of a schmuck who doesn’t pay close enough attention to her credit card statements.) Verizon only appears to have charged me for service once a month. Below are the combined charges from Verizon and Frontier:

1/11/10 – 29.99
1/27/10 – 51.91 <-- this is when I switched apartments
2/11/10 – 29.99
3/01/10 – 29.99
3/15/10 – 29.99
3/29/10 – 29.99 <-- TRIPLE-BILLED in March!
4/12/10 – 29.99
4/27/10 – 29.99
5/12/10 – 29.99 <-- I moved to San Francisco and asked that my service be canceled on May 15th.
5/27/10 – 29.99 <-- Still getting billed by Frontier...
6/07/10 – $10.00 refund from Verizon for a pro-rate of my former service
6/28/10 – 29.99 <-- Frontier lives on!

I sent the above information to Verizon, but they were no help, and Frontier is impossible to contact — their phone number leads nowhere and there is no address on the bills. So I formally disputed all the fraudulent charges with my credit card company (Citibank), got a new credit card number, and thought that’d be the end of it.

…Until I get a bill from a collections agency for $119.96 on behalf of Frontier. It says that I have the right to request, in writing, what the charges are actually for — so I send the agency a snail mail request for proof of debt, and also specifically request a response from them within 30 days, or I’d consider the matter closed. The collections agency got back to me within the 30 days and said that the account was on hold, pending closure, which I took to mean that Frontier never provided them any proof that I owed them money, and again, that that’d be the end of it.

…Until last week. I’m now looking at a bill from ANOTHER collections agency on behalf of Frontier, for $119.96. It looks like Frontier is just going to keep bouncing from one collections agency to another until they dog me into paying them, or giving up and having it go on my credit report. Frontier is a ghost company and I never received any services from them.

How can I get this to stop? Of course, I have the option of just ponying up the money that I don’t actually owe, since I’ve already spent way too much time and headspace on this stupid matter, but I’d really like to see the weasels at Frontier get some kind of comeuppance.

Any ideas? :D

It sounds like you might need to get the power of the government on your side. Whitney can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and her Attorney General’s office.