Travelers can get charged roaming without making a call

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An East Bay woman found out Verizon charged her hundreds of dollars in roaming fees, even though she didn?t make a call overseas.

Using your cellphone while traveling overseas can get pretty expensive, but what if you don't use the phone at all? 7 On Your Side found out how you could still get charged anyway.

Susan Wallach of Walnut Creek went on a Caribbean cruise. She took her iPhone with her on the ship, but made sure to use it only to take pictures since she knew calling home could be expensive.

In fact, Wallach kept the phone turned off for most of the trip, which is why she was so surprised when she got home and saw a huge $882 bill from Verizon.

It turns out, Verizon had charged her hundreds of dollars in roaming fees, even though she never once made a call, sent a text or used the Internet.

She contacted Verizon and had them check her phone calls. They confirmed she had not make any calls overseas and they couldn't really answer why she had so much in roaming charges.

Verizon only said she'd used a lot of data on the ship and in the Bahamas. And they asked her if she wanted to set up a payment plan. She did not agree to pay the amount.

"I just thought it was an exorbitant amount of money for never using the phone. I didn't pay that much for the phone," Wallach said.

She contacted 7 On Your Side and we checked it out what happened. Wallach didn't know it, but her phone was silently connecting with global data networks for the whole trip. It's all because she never turned off a roaming feature on her iPhone. She had no idea it existed.

"I must say I'm not tech savvy, I understand that. My experiences and wisdom don't keep up with all the velocity of these technological advances," Wallach said.

We showed her how to go to settings and flip roaming to the off position. We also contacted Verizon, and it agreed to cancel out all but $25 of those roaming charges saying, "We have worked with the customer directly to resolve the issue to her satisfaction."

Wallach is relieved, but still trying to figure out all that's going on in her mobile device.

"It think the velocity of technological advances is great, but how do you keep up with them?" she asked.

If you're traveling notify your carrier and ask about avoiding unwanted charges. You can buy international plans just for the time you're away, or turn off roaming feature and use free Wi-Fi. You'll find it is more widely available these days.

Tips from Verizon
  1. To use Global Roaming services outside of the U.S., customers need to set up their account with international eligibility. We recommend customers call a Verizon Wireless representative at (800) 922-0204 to make this change.

  2. If customers aren't planning on using data services outside the U.S., they should consider turning them off before they leave the country as many devices and applications transmit and receive data without customers' intervention and can generate unexpected charges.

  3. On most devices, customers that turn off data services will still be able to make or receive calls, or send or receive messages. Customers may also avoid data charges by using Wi-Fi service, where available, while they travel internationally.

  4. For customers interested in using voice, text and data services outside the U.S., we strongly recommend that customers add a Global Data package to their account to avoid Pay as you Go charges. Customers that add a Global Data package to their account must keep it for a minimum of one billing cycle.

  5. When Verizon customers travel abroad, the company sends them courtesy text messages when their data usage hits certain thresholds. We recommend that customers read these text messages to understand how much data they've used and encourage them to call our toll-free Global Support hotline to ask about their usage and possible charges. Customers can go to this web page to find the toll-free Verizon Global Support number for the country they're travelling to:
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