CenturyLink customer angered over unauthorized accounts

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A Phoenix woman says CenturyLink opened up three accounts in her name for the same in-home internet service. Her experience mirrors allegations laid out in a recent legal action.

CBS 5 News has previously reported that CenturyLink faces a class-action lawsuit after a former employee accused CenturyLink of firing her for reporting unlawful billing practices to the company. The allegations included, among other things, charging customers for services they never received and creating fake customer accounts. CenturyLink says the allegations are inconsistent with company policy and culture and they're vigorously investigating.

A CBS 5 viewer wanted to share her experience.

After signing up for internet service, Gwendolyn White says twice CenturyLink shipped her a modem that never arrived to her Phoenix apartment over a delivery issue (White says UPS couldn't find her unit in the complex). The third delivery attempt was successful but White says she was then hit with three separate bills.

"They said multiple accounts were opened in my name and I asked him specifically why, and he said he didn't have any idea," White said.

White says a CenturyLink rep acknowledged the error and promised to close two accounts, leaving her with one account going forward. She thought the matter was resolved until five months later when she got a letter from a debt collector.

"I told the debt collector that I would call CenturyLink because I assumed that it was already taken care of, and he said no," White said.

She says the debt collector claimed she owed $275 for early termination fees on those two duplicate accounts CenturyLink was supposed to have closed months before.

"I know I didn't do anything wrong and I knew that you would get to the bottom of it, so I said, I got to call you," White said.

I informed White of the current class-action lawsuit against CenturyLink alleging fraudulent billing practices. She doesn't know why CenturyLink set up three accounts for her, but she says the clear mistake is hurting her credit and needs to be fixed.

"Because I'm right in the process of trying to get a loan for a home and this stopped me right in my tracks," White said.

After CBS 5 News notified CenturyLink of this problem, they investigated, apologized for failing to delete the duplicate accounts, and removed the $275 from collections. CBS 5 News thanks CenturyLink for resolving this matter so quickly after we brought it to their attention.

CenturyLink says these were not fake accounts, it was a computer glitch. Their system set up accounts when the first two modems were shipped out; then failed to close the accounts when the modems were returned non-delivered.

CBS 5 News will provide updates on the lawsuit as we get more information. Here is CenturyLink's statement regarding the class-action lawsuit which follows a wrongful termination suit filed by a CenturyLink employee.

"Unfortunately, these types of opportunistic follow-on claims are not unexpected. The fact that a law firm is trying to leverage a wrongful termination suit into a putative class action lawsuit, does not change our original position. Our employees know that if they have any concerns about ethics or compliance issues, we have an Integrity Line in place, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our former employee did not make a report to the Integrity Line and our leadership team was not aware of the alleged matter until the lawsuit was filed. The allegations made by our former employee are completely inconsistent with our company policies, culture and Unifying Principles, which include honesty and integrity. We take these allegations seriously and are diligently investigating this matter."

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