Watch Your Phone Bill Carefully

When I received my most recent Verizon phone bill, I was surprised to see a charge of $14.95 to ILD Teleservices Inc. I had no idea what the company was or what the charge was for. I looked back over my recent bills. I am embarrassed to report that the charge had been appearing on my bills for several months. A quick search of the Web showed me that I am not alone. (See, for example, here and here.)

There is a happy ending to this story. When I called ILD, the customer service rep immediately agreed to credit all the charges I had paid. But I am troubled by how this got on my bill in the first place. When I asked about that, I was told that someone I never heard of gave my phone number as the billing number when signing up for a service that provides dial-up Internet access. That suggests that anyone out there can just pick up anyone else’s phone number and use it for billing.

Can this be true? Are there no stronger protections built into our phone accounts? I am glad that ILD agreed to credit my account, but I would hope it and Verizon would take steps to prevent this kind of thing from happening to others.