Need help resolving charges for long distant calls on my son's stolen cell phone

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Mar 22, 2019
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#1
My son who is away in college had his cell phone stolen in February. He though disabling the phone through the Iphone app is all he needed to. We were too busy trying to get him another phone and took his words that he had took care of the matter (call ATT). Five days later, I received a call from ATT offering me an international plan because their record shows a lot of international calls was being made on my son's stolen phone. That is when I called ATT and found out that my son had not called ATT to suspend the phone, but instead disabled it through the Iphone app. The person who stole my son's Iphone racked up over 4000.00 in long distance calls to Cuba. The phone was suspended through ATT once I learned of the problem. This is not after the damage has already been done. I made a request through ATT's customer service to remove the 4000.00 fraudulent calls made on the stolen phone, but that request was denied. They then transfer me to their Loyalty Department, and they filed another request for me. This request is pending, but I fear the worse. I have been an ATT customer for over twenty years, and this type of situation has never happened to me. I am seeking your input on how to best handle this. Thank you very much in advance
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#2
You state that "He thought disabling the phone through the Iphone app is all he needed to (do)", but then he told you that he "took care of the matter" by calling AT&T. The distinction is important as you move forward with your request. Logically both cannot be true. And because he did not call them, in just 5 days the thief was able to make $4,000 in international calls, which are his/your responsibility.

As you move forward I see several things that stand out for your appeal to AT&T:
  • He honestly thought disabling was sufficient
  • He mistakenly did not follow up with AT&T
  • An international plan would have covered the calls
You can reach out to [IAT&T[/I] executives using the Company Contacts link at the top of this page. Please read this first: How to Present Your Case

If/when you do, I suggest that you:
  • Acknowledge responsibility for the late call to them
  • Explain the innocent misunderstanding
  • Offer to pay for one month of the international plan in lieu of the $4,000
  • Thank them for considering your case
This article addresses the various steps that can be taken when an iPhone is lost/stolen . . .
 
Jan 17, 2019
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#3
Five years ago my wife and were in China for New Year, and were taking the train from Nanning yo Guangzhou, then another train to Shenzhen. During the rugby scrum of boarding in Nanning among the 400 people (an adventure in itself) someone managed to steal my phone out of my zipped jacket pocket. I discovered this immediately after boarding. We spent 12 hours on the train, then immediately boarded the train to Shenzhen.

Arriving in Shenzhen we taxied to our hotel, where I immediately contacted T-Mobile. The T-Mobile agent disabled my Android phone, but told me that during the previous 15 hours someone had made $750 in calls with my phone, and said I would be responsible for that amount since I had not notified them immediately after the phone was stolen. (Of course I was on a train in the middle of China with no way to contact them.)

When we got back to the USA I sent a polite email to T-Mobile's CEO describing the circumstances and asked if anything could be done. A week later I received a reply from his executive assistant saying they understood, and that as a courtesy they would not bill me for the calls.

You might try something like that. Of course you're dealing with AT&T...

I've been a loyal T-Mobile customer since then.
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#4
I have a PIN number on my SIM card. Therefore, someone can't take the SIM card out of my phone and use it in another one to make calls. A PIN on a SIM card is not the same as a PIN on a phone. This is something to consider as a further level of protection. Nothing is foolproof, but one needs to do as many things as possible to frustrate thieves.
 
Likes: bignevermo
Mar 22, 2019
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#5
Thank you VoR61, I really appreciate your suggestion. To clarify the post, we thought my son had called ATT but as it turns out, he did not. I am going to follow your suggestion to reach out to ATT executives, but our bill is due next Tuesday. Should we not pay this bill while we are going through this appeals process with the executives?
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#6
You might call AT&T and ask them to make a note that you are working with executives to resolve this. Also, include the "bill due" informaiton in your email to the executives.
 
Mar 23, 2015
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Wow that is... AWFUL. I wonder if you can file a police report and perhaps get the cell tower records for the phone to find out where the calls originated from? They know the number that the phone was calling. Maybe somehow you can work out who was calling that person and work out it backwards to the location of the calls? I don't know--maybe I watch too many police shows on TV and I'm oversimplifying and assuming it's much more specific than it really is down to the house number, I dunno .. :) But, frankly, if you can't get some consideration from ATT (maybe split the difference? Still a lot but... at least something) I hope your SON pays you back. Sounds like he didn't take the loss of his phone very seriously and now you are on the hook for it for $4k! Ouch I am sooo sorry for your kerfuffle!
 
Mar 23, 2015
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#10
If they deny taking it off, try to find out what the cost eould be if you did have an international plan in place when the calls were made. They might be willing to backdate the plan. It might not be inexpensive at that point, but probably alot cheaper than the $4000
That sounds like a really reasonable resolution! I hope that if they refuse to take off the charges completely, they at least go for that!
 
Mar 22, 2019
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#12
Thank you all for you suggestions and thoughts. As for the FindMyPhone App, the person turned off the phone right away as we tried to call it the next day. I am going to wait for the result of the second adjustment request on Tuesday. Buy looking at other post on this forum, it does not look good. If the adjustment is denied, I will write to the executive as suggested. Thank you all again
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#13
Wow that is... AWFUL. I wonder if you can file a police report and perhaps get the cell tower records for the phone to find out where the calls originated from? They know the number that the phone was calling. Maybe somehow you can work out who was calling that person and work out it backwards to the location of the calls? I don't know--maybe I watch too many police shows on TV and I'm oversimplifying and assuming it's much more specific than it really is down to the house number, I dunno .. :) But, frankly, if you can't get some consideration from ATT (maybe split the difference? Still a lot but... at least something) I hope your SON pays you back. Sounds like he didn't take the loss of his phone very seriously and now you are on the hook for it for $4k! Ouch I am sooo sorry for your kerfuffle!
I agree with Mel ... I'd go to great lengths to pursue this theft. ATT is almost impossible to deal with, so I wish you luck with them. I'm assuming that the account is in your name ... if not your son needs to deal with this himself. Be polite, persistent and patient. $4K is a great deal of money.
 
Likes: divinemsmstl
Mar 14, 2018
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#17
From the OP's letter, I'd assume the son did use FindMyPhone to lock his phone. However, this wouldn't stop the thief from moving the SIM card to a different phone and using it to make calls.
 
Likes: Patina
Jan 6, 2015
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#18
Actually his son "disabled" the phone which is different. From what I've read today, you can disable, erase data, and /or lock the phone. Only locking prevents the phone from being used. And if AT&T is like others, simply placing the SIM in another phone won't work. They (AT&T) have to activate the new phone. Can a thief convince them to do that? Probably . . .
 
Mar 22, 2019
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#19
Police won't do much to find the stolen phone. I know because I work in law enforcement. Triangulation of a phone location takes an act of God, actually the act of a judge. Even if they find the thief, it will not resolve the amount I owe to the company.