I've been screwed for 2 years by Helio, now Virgin Mobile, just waiting for my contract to expire so I can go to another company. I would love to get a class action law suit going against these idiots. They supply phones at high prices to people that do not work. They do not credit phone returns and charge your account for the price of a new phone when you have honored your obligation in a punctual, timely manner by promptly returning their defective garbage back to them. They constantly lie to you when you talk to them to get credit. Luckily, I finally got my account credited back for nearly $400 when they had received the "lemon" Ocean phone within 5 days after I reported it defective. Unfortunately, it took over 6 phone calls by me to customer service and a multitute of lies on their part to get the money credited back to my account. They do pre-bill each month for the next 30 days and not the prior 30 days. My 2 year contract expires June 17th and I'm now arguing with them to adjust my upcoming May 20th bill to reflect a 2 day discount for the period May 20 through June 17 insead of May 19. Now they are telling me that I need to pay the bill dated May 20 and that my final bill will be June 20. The June 20th bill will be for a period of service, June 20 through July 19, for which I will have no service as I will be disconnecting with them on June 17, the day my contract expires. I find it hard to believe they are STUPID as they appear to be. I think they are just a bunch of crooks. They should be sued for stealing peoples money and not complying with their side of the phone service contract.
If I continue to have problems getting my account closed out, effective June 17th and they try to charge me for service through July 19th after I've cancelled my contract I plan on contacting the Attorney General's Office in my state and in the state they are registered as doing business. Additionally, I will file a complant with the Federal Trade Commission and whatever federal agency is over wireless phone service providers.
As for protecting your credit, I'd contact all 3 credit reporting agencies and let them know you are disputing the charges, which legally, I don't think they can report while being disputed. I'd send them copies of complaints to the Attorney General's Office and any finding/results from those complaints. If the bank can get your money back, I'd send the credit reporting agencies a copy of that documentation too. That should help verify the charges are erroneous. I'm no lawyer, but I think while charges are in dispute, until litigated, they can't harm your credit. However, we are talking about idiots and common criminals here - so who knows what they may be stupid enough to try to pull on you.
It is a shame that current laws aren't more protective of consumer rights in dealing with cell phone carriers. I think they all do pretty much what they want and hide behind the early termination fee to force you to stay with them. You would think they would have to bill you properly, provide customer service, tell the truth when dealing with you, and provide you with equipment that works - else, they would be breaking the contract and there would be no "early termination fee".
Good luck and if you decide to gather a group for a class action suit against them, count me in as a wronged party willing to contribute my two cents worth!!!