CT woman gets $42,000 phone bill

(WTNH)– How about this for ending a relationship? A Connecticut woman says a friendship ended with $42,000 in cell phone charges that are not hers, and a company unwilling to help her.

“Jane”, not the woman’s real name, says she was trying to help someone out. She made a deal that a friend could use her phone number, if he paid the bill. The bill stayed in Jane’s name, but the friend didn’t stick around. He has since disappeared and stuck her with a phone bill for $42,427.21, and a letter from a collections agency.

Jane called Verizon, asking to get that friend off of the bill. She says their response was:

“I needed either to close it out and pay the extreme amount that was sitting on this bill, or I needed to have him come in to Verizon with me, put his name on the bill, in order for me to close, take my name off of it.”

Calls were being made and received from California, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Africa. The bill was jumping up by the thousands.

“Not once did Verizon ever pick up and say this really isn’t his bill,” said Jane.

Text alerts of the skyrocketing bill were never sent to her phone, Jane says. It appears that this ex-friend convinced Verizon that he was her husband and he should be the one managing the account.

News 8 reached out to Verizon for answers. They pointed us to their “Tools for Monitoring Usage” page, which she would have had to set up herself.

Former police officer and practicing attorney Lance Coughlin says Jane, and those in similar situations, should put up a fight, most importantly to save their credit.

“The fact that he did misrepresent himself, even to go as far to change his last name, could potentially result in some type of criminal impersonation charge because it wasn’t his last name,” said Coughlin. “He didn’t have authority to keep the account open, so that can incorporate a larceny charge as well.”

There is a happy ending here, though. Jane called us a few days after we contacted Verizon about her account. Verizon’s Fraud Department was willing to strike a deal: That $42,000 bill has now been reduced to $4,200 to be paid within two years.

This is Verizon’s statement in full in response to our questions:

“We thoroughly reviewed Jane’s billing, verified the accuracy of the charges she disputes and have explained all of this to her. We respect our customers’ privacy and, as a result, will continue to address [Jane’s] specific concerns directly with her. In general, we always work to ensure account owners understand that they are responsible for all legitimate usage on their accounts and that they can add and remove users at any time. We also provide our customers with a variety of tools, resources and alerts to monitor and manage their accounts, and the overwhelming majority do so without issue.”
-Mike Murphy
Verizon Wireless Spokesperson
January 13th 2015

And their latest statement:

“As the account owner, [Jane] was reminded multiple times that she could remove anyone from her account at anytime for any reason. [Jane] repeatedly declined to remove an individual from her account as was her choice, which we of course respected.”
-Mike Murphy
Verizon Wireless Spokesperson
January 29th 2015

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