Reconnect Your Local Phone Service
Disconnected Phone Service
You get a notice from the telephone company, threatening to cut off phone service because of past due bills, or you’ve lost phone service because you couldn’t afford to pay your phone bill. You may be able to keep your phone service or get it back.
How To Keep Or Reconnect Your Local Phone Service
- Try to work out a payment plan. Your telephone company will mail you a notice six days before they plan to disconnect your service. As soon as you get a disconnect notice, contact your phone company. They may be willing to work out a payment plan with you.
- Pay the local portion of your bill if that’s all you can afford. If you can’t work out a payment plan and can’t afford to pay your entire bill, you can keep your local service by paying only the local portion of your bill. This applies to landline phone service only, not to cellular or wireless service.
- If your phone has already been disconnected, pay what you owe for local service. You can get local service back by paying the past due balance owed for local service. In most cases you can’t be denied local phone service for unpaid charges that are more than three years old. Local charges you must pay are defined on your phone bill as “regulated local service charges” and typically include fees for basic monthly service, local usage, optional local calling plans, features like call waiting and call forwarding, and other associated charges, credits and taxes.
- Find out if you qualify for discounts. If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Food Stamps, Medicaid, Housing Assistance (including Section 8), Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) or Work First Family Assistance, you may also qualify for discounts on local telephone service through the Lifeline and Link‑Up programs.
You can’t lose local phone service because of certain kinds of unpaid phone charges:
- Toll and long distance charges. Even if you pay off local charges and keep your local phone service, you’re still responsible for non-local charges you owe. You can be denied access to toll and long distance or other non-local services unless you pay, and you may also face debt collectors. If you have to dial “1” to place a call, it’s likely a toll or long distance call. You can still access 800-type toll-free numbers and use prepaid calling cards even if you lose access to toll and long distance services.
- 900 calls and other unregulated service charges.You can’t lose local or long distance phone service because of unpaid charges for unregulated services such as voice mail, inside wire maintenance, wireless service, Internet service, or calls to 900/976 numbers. However, unregulated service providers may end these services and attempt to collect on your debts.
- International charges. International charges are usually treated the same as other long distance charges. Some psychic hotlines and adult entertainment services use international numbers. If you challenge these calls or can’t or won’t pay the charges, your phone company must take them off your bill. The first time this happens, your phone company will offer you the option of blocking all toll and long distance calls. The second time, the charges will be removed again. After that, calls of this type may not be removed from your bill and you could be denied international service.
- Disputed charges. If you’ve contacted your local telephone company to dispute charges on your bill, your service will continue at least until the disputed charges have been investigated and resolved.
We Can Help
If you have a consumer complaint, contact us for help call toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.