WOODLAND HILLS (CBSLA.com) — A Woodland Hills man has made international headlines for a shockingly high bill he received from a phone company.

Ronald Dorff says he’s now afraid to use his dial-up Internet after he received a bill from AT&T for more than $24,000.

“I started to hit the panic button,” Dorff, an 83-year-old great-grandfather, told KCAL9’s Peter Daut.

He says he first contacted the company last month after his monthly bill increased from $51 to $8,431.

He says he was told a technician would be sent to fix the problem but no one came.

As a result, he says, he assumed everything was fine but it wasn’t.

The next bill Dorff received with fees included totaled $24,298.

The amount, he says, is more than a year’s worth of Social Security checks he depends upon.

“If they’re going to insist on me to pay the bill, my financial stability is gone,” said Dorff, who explained that he contacted AT&T again and spoke with several different people.

This time, he says, a technician arrived who determined that his modem had been dialing a long distance number for hours on end, racking up hefty charges.

But Dorff says the company refused to budge.

“I said, ‘Is it gonna make an adjustment on my bill?’ She says, ‘No.’ ” he said.

Outraged and alarmed, Dorff then decided to share his story with the media.

He says that’s when AT&T finally gave him the answer he was hoping for.

“We have waived the charges and explained to him how to use a local number to reach his service,” the company said in a statement.

Dorff says he’s relieved but wonders if other customers are dealing with a similar “bill shock.”

“And I’m sure they’re in the same situation I was. ‘What do I do? Where do I go,’ ” he said.

When asked why the high fees had not been spotted and resolved earlier, AT&T said this is a “rare occurrence” they address on an individual basis.

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