AT&T tries to stick customer with false international charges

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I remember many years ago in my TV work I did story about how easy it is for crooks to tap into a business or residential phone line, especially at older apartment or condo buildings.

Now, I don’t want to give too much away because I got a big reaction from people saying my TV coverage was teaching criminals to steal.

I’ll just say this: The nation’s phone system was designed in an era where there was no thought about people tapping in to steal international long distance. It is so easy that I could teach my 5-year-old in 10 minutes how to tap in and steal dial-tone to call all over the world.

David Lazarus of The Los Angeles Times reports there was an AT&T business customer who received a $20,000+ bill for international calls made to Israel, Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. The customer, who happened to be a lawyer, protested to AT&T by saying that she’s never called those countries and doesn’t even know anyone in those countries. AT&T’s response? “Tough.”

The customer then hired an expert to check her line and see if anything has happened with stealth software being installed on her line. No such luck. So AT&T was going to disconnect the phone service for the woman’s law practice and essentially put her out of business.

After The Los Angeles Times got involved, AT&T got quiet and entered a confidentiality agreement with the woman. Now none of them will say what happened. But it’s obvious there was a hole in AT&T’s system and the monopoly was trying to hold an individual responsible for the fact they don’t have a secure network.

The other thing about AT&T that’s been driving me to distraction is that they’re imposing a base rate long distance charge on landline customers to offset the fact that most people use cell phones for long distance calling.

AT&T landline customers in select territories received legal notices with mice-type announcing the fee in June. The fee works out to be just under $5 a month or about $50 annually.

But there is a way for you to get out of this rip-off fee. Call 1-800-288-2020 and tell them you want to remove long distance service from your bill. Ask for a credit for the charges that have already been posted to your bill while you’re at it.



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