A South Florida man has had his cell phone account suspended while deployed overseas for the Coast Guard. While he was away, he started getting calls from a collection agency.
When you’re fighting overseas to protect America, the last thing you should be worrying about is a phone bill. But one serviceman says he was sent to a collection agency in the Middle East for not paying a phone bill he didn’t have to pay. When he couldn’t fix the problem, he did what everyone should do in the event of a problem: call Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
To say that Christopher Wallace’s family believes in serving their country would easily be the understatement of the day.
Christopher Wallace: “My dad was in the Air Force. My brother was in the army. I had a few cousins who were in the Navy. I have an uncle; his three sons were in the Marines.
Christopher wanted to do something different, so he joined the Coast Guard.
Christopher Wallace: “I’ve been pretty much everywhere, from five different countries in the Caribbean all the way to the Middle East.”
Before being deployed, Christopher always does what the military does: call the companies they have contracts with, like the telephone company.
Christopher Wallace: “And what they usually do is they take our accounts and put them on deployment status, military status and that pretty much covers us and protects us.”
While he was overseas, Christopher’s cell phone was turned off and the bill was frozen. Then he came back and called the telephone company.
Christopher Wallace: “I turned on my phone, same thing. Is everything alright? Do I need to know something about my account, my plan? Nothing? “No, it’s fine, sir. »
It was in February. In April, he started getting calls from a collection agency.
Christopher Wallace: “What exactly do you call it? ‘Okay T-mobile sent us the account for collection.’ Collections? Why would they do that?”
Christopher immediately called T-Mobile.
Christopher Wallace: “’We don’t see anything, sir. All we see is a balance owing. That’s it,” which was my regular monthly balance. Are you positive? Are you sure? “Yes, sir, we don’t see anything. »
But the collection agency kept calling about a phone bill and T-Mobile kept telling Christopher he didn’t owe the phone company anything.
Christopher Wallace: “And no one can know where the accusation comes from. And the end result of every phone call I made was, ‘Well, there’s nothing we can do.’
Then he checked his credit scores and found he had been flagged for not paying a bill that the phone company said didn’t exist.
Christopher Wallace: “And it’s going to stay there for up to seven years and it’s not something I can afford to have to my credit right now.”
With Christopher’s credit damaged from a phone bill they can’t find, Christopher hung up the phone and emailed Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: “It’s illegal. The Service Members Civil Relief Act ensures that when our men and women are deployed, they have several rights. Among them: the right to suspend a mobile phone contract while they are abroad. After being questioned, if the company does not comply, they are responsible for all costs or damages caused to the enlisted man or woman. And if the attorney general sees a pattern, he could face hefty fines.
We contacted T-Mobile. They didn’t want to discuss the cause of the problem in Christopher’s case, but told us it was resolved.
They also contacted the collection agency and told them to stop trying to collect. Howard says Christopher now needs a guarantee that his good credit will be restored.
Howard Finkelstein: “T-Mobile needs to write a letter to all the credit bureaus explaining how they made a mistake. They then have to make sure it cleans up the mess they made and restores Christopher’s credit rating. Christopher also has the right to put a letter describing what happened to him in his records.
T-Mobile sends the letter. He’s back at sea, serving his country with one less headache when he returns from doing what he loves.
Christopher Wallace: “Next month will mark nine years of service in the Coast Guard.
Military men and women know their rights. It is the general public who may not know this. For example, a member of the military may break a rental agreement with a landlord. They can return a rented car before the contract expires. And they cannot be penalized at all.
At war with a problem you can’t beat? Self-service is not working and needs to be strengthened? Deploy with us.
We will not go abroad, but we will make sure to find a solution.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Military Civil Aid Act
Overview of the Military Civil Assistance Act
CONTACT ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmeHoward@wsvn.com (please include your phone number when emailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com