Also, monitoring for this kind of accident is paying a lot more attention to individual customer bills and usage than I necessarily want AT&T monitoring. AT&T has already established that they cooperate extensively with monitoring US communications at NSA request, especially with the notorious "Room 641A". DO we want them collecting and acting on this kind of data?
They won't be collecting more data than before. They're collecting billing data as usual - and there's nothing wrong with that. They have to collect that data to send out the correct bills to their customers. The only difference is that they should keep an eye on what they're billing, and unusual costs racked up by customers.
This issue should have set off various flags. First of all I can't imagine there are many residential users that use this much long distance calls (or calls to the kind of premium numbers where the called party gets a share, considering the total amount of the bills - this used to be a very common thing back in the 90s/early 00s). Secondly, the far higher amount of the current bill than the previous bill, another reason for a flag.
The above are routine for credit card companies, and I never hear people complain about that. I've the same experience with my mobile provider, they contacted me when I travelled with it. It's basic consumer protection (and protection of the telco/cc issuer): your credit card is suddenly used overseas, is that you or is your card stolen? Your phone is using roaming, is that you or is your phone stolen? Same for landline providers: your are suddenly using a lot of long distance calls/premium number calls, is that intentional?
If the cost billed have any relation to actual cost made by AT&T, it means now AT&T is also out of a significant amount of cash, not even counting the bad publicity (assuming they actually care about that of course). Having basic monitoring on bills would have saved them all that.