A woman forced to flee her home after being attacked was left without the money to pay the rent on her new house after her phone provider unexpectedly took more than £300 from her bank account.

Queenie Fearon, 66, who has a range of health problems, was forced to move out of Whitehaven in December after an attack near her home left her fearful and unable to leave the house.

Her move to Abbeytown was intended to be the first step in regaining the confidence to enable her to venture out on her own.

But Miss Fearon said she suffered a major setback in January when she discovered that hundreds of pounds was missing from her bank account.

She contacted her bank to request a statement and was shocked to learn that her mobile phone provider, EE, has taken £344.50 from her account without her knowledge.

The unexpected charge left Miss Fearon without the money to pay her rent, forcing her to use her overdraft and incur interest fees.

It has also shattered her trust in companies and put her off ever having a contract mobile phone again.

Miss Fearon said: "I was shocked. You can't take that amount of money without any notification.

"I'd been with EE nearly two years. I'd been a good customer. Surely a flag should have come up. It's outrageous.

"The only reason I found out was because I rang my bank because my account wasn't working out.

"I had no money for heating, no money for food.

"I had an overdraft but that was swallowed up because I had my rent to pay. It completely wiped me out.

"They didn't give me an explanation. There's no way I could have used that.

"I can't even work my online banking. I'm 66. I have no idea about the internet."

Miss Fearon previously paid about £20 per month for her phone contract, paying a small top-up for extra services on rare occasions.

She is not computer savvy and used the data mainly for things like checking bus times on the Stagecoach app before she became housebound, and later to look for a new home.

Miss Fearon contacted her bank about the charge and was advised to phone EE.

The company, she said, offered to refund half the sum as credit to her account but she refused, not wanting to stay with EE any longer than necessary.

Miss Fearon initially said the episode had put her off using EE.

But after being contacted for comment, the company rang her, apologised for the mix up and offered to help her set up her new pay-as-you-go phone, which she said had reassured her.

The cancer survivor, who has a heart problem and has had several mini strokes, is now advising everyone to keep a close eye on their own accounts to make sure they have not been hit by a similar problem.

She said: "They could have done it to somebody else who isn't aware.

"If I'd been in hospital or on stronger medication I might not have noticed.

"People need to check their accounts."

EE said the money had been taken as a result of human error.

A spokeswoman said: "We’ve spoken to our customer services team and can see that due to an isolated human error the additional minutes that Ms Fearon requested were not added her to her account. This caused her to exceed the minutes on her contract and led to the unexpected bill.

"We have apologised to Ms Fearon and have spoken to her to fully refund the charges. We’re also helping her to move to a monthly plan that better suits her needs."

She added that customers can access their monthly statements, bills and charges online and the MyEE app.

She said: "We encourage all of our customers to check their monthly statements regularly, and customers can also register for monthly reminders via SMS to notify them when their statement is available to view.

"For customers who don’t feel confident checking their statement online, they can contact our customer service team, where an advisor will be able to discuss this with them in more detail."