War Veteran Comes Home to $21,000 Phone Bill



A Winter Park Army veteran blames Verizon Wireless for a $21,000.00 cell phone bill that had wrecked his credit.  Army soldier Brent Worthington had returned to Iraq with a cell phone to call his family. According to Brent, a local Verizon store had sold him  an international plan contract for  200 dollars a month.

"She sounded like she knew exactly what she was talking about and made it sound great to me." Brent says he asked about using the phone in Iraq. "There answer was we have towers in Iraq and it would be like calling in the states."

But the Verizon bills that turned up at his Winter Park home totaled more than 21 thousand dollars. He had been billed standard international rates and roaming charges for 5 months. "I was blown away.  I don't think anger can even explain how I was feeling that day."

When Brent signed up, Verizon was offering an international plan with unlimited calling and no roaming charges. It covered 20 countries but not Iraq. Brent told Verizon that it had  never been disclosed. When he challenged the bill, "they said the roaming charges stand and there's nothing they can do."

Two months ago Verizon turned his bill over to a debt collector. We took Brent's case to consumer attorney Leonard Cabral. "Where is the fairness here?" Cabral said Brent could challenge the Verizon contract as unfair trade and he can demand a copy of the cell phone contract and charges from the debt collector. "By law they cannot try to collect that debt until they validate the debt." Cabral says debt collectors usually can't and the debt is removed.           

A huge relief for a man who's finances have been crippled by this cell bill.  " It has destroyed my credit rating."
Late today Verizon told me the company is working with Brent so he won't face that kind of debt. The debt collector, said it too is trying to resolve this.