Boise woman steamed after mystery charge appears on phone bill

Boise woman steamed after mystery charge appears on phone bill »Play Video
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A Boise woman says she was stunned after opening her phone bill and finding a lot of extra charges, and she has no idea where they came from or how a company she knows nothing about could expect money from her.

76-year-old Martie Brennan says her monthly bill was 30 dollars more than what she expected.

She thought her age and being recently widowed made her a target for fraudulent charges, but found out it's not illegal and could happen to anyone.

And she has a question for her phone and internet provider:

"Explain yourself," Brennan says. "Why, why did you allow yourself to be part of this?"

The question came after she opened her monthly bill to find the extra charges.

"[The bill] usually runs from $89 to $98 and February's bill was $30 more than that."

CenturyLink handles Brennan's land line and high speed internet.

But that month, a separate page came with her usual bill.

"It's called the Billing Resource, and it was called Enhanced Telecommunications Services," she says. "Two separate billings. One for December 6 for $14.99 and one for January 3 for $14.99 making a total of $29.98, which I have no idea what they are for."

The bill had a phone number, which Brennan dialed up.

"They said 'maybe someone else has used your computer, Mrs. Brennan'. No, I live alone. No one uses my computer. 'Didn't you receive something in the mail?' So they didn't really have an answer as to what those charges are for."

The Truth Squad called that third-party billing company, Teleconnect Services, and spoke with three different people before we were told someone would have to call us back.

We're still waiting.

One person at Teleconnect did say people sign up for their services online, but wouldn't tell us what services they provide.

"It seems like I said 'what do you have to do with CenturyLink?' and I can't remember them answering that," Brennan says. "Immediately, they had a pad answer."

The charges were removed and Brennan's March bill was back to normal.

But Brennan still had a beef with CenturyLink.

The Truth Squad spoke with Sheri Davis, a spokesperson for the company, and asked her about the charges.

"Third-party billing has been a standard industry practice for decades," Davis told us. "It's actually a service that's usually convenient for a customer because it doesn't create an additional bill and they don't have to use their credit card."

CenturyLink says it only allows third-party billing if a customer agrees to it, and will step in if the customer is wronged.

"If there is a third-party billing dispute, we put a block on the account so that company cannot charge them again unauthorized charges," says Davis.

Brennan never ended up paying those extra charges and CenturyLink did block Teleconnect Services from her account.

Brennan now has some advice for bill-payers across the Treasure Valley.

"Check your bills carefully, and don't be afraid to question."

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