Cramming – Unauthorized and Deceptive Charges on Phone Bill

This is a repost and reminder to my readers…  Back in 2008 I posted an article called: “Beware! Telephone Bill Ripoff…”

I strongly encourage everyone to read that article [click here] and take necessary action to block any miscellaneous charges being added to your phone bill. A third party company can take basic identity information (name, phone number, address, email) that is easily obtainable, and subscribe you to a “tele” service without your consent and apply a monthly charge to your phone bill under “Miscellaneous Charges”. You do not even have to be a user of the internet to have this happen to you.

How serious is this problem?

It did not take me long to learn, after this happened to me, that there was people all around me being victimized. In one case I called the phone carrier and the customer rep chuckled and said this has been going on for about 7 years… If you call the company that is actually charging you, they are more than agreeable to help you get credited for the charges, but it can take 30 to 90 days. In my case a block was put into place by the company that was processing the charges and by my telephone carrier to prevent future charges.

Upon further research of this matter, I learned from the Federal Communication Commission that this practice is very common; so common in fact that if you call their complaint number it is one of the selections on the teleprompt; so common in fact that this practice has been given a a “name” (called cramming); and so common in fact that they have a web page exclusively devoted to “cramming” [click here].

Cramming

“Cramming” is the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading, or deceptive charges on your telephone bill. Crammers rely on confusing telephone bills in an attempt to trick consumers into paying for services they did not authorize or receive, or that cost more than the consumer was led to believe.”

While cramming charges typically appear on consumers’ local telephone bills, they may also be included with bills issued by long distance telephone companies and companies providing other types of services, including wireless telephone, beeper, and pager services.

Where to file complaints, if you have been crammed…

Federal Communications Commission

For charges related to telephone service between states or internationally, you can file your complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file a complaint using an FCC on-line complaint form found at esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by e-mailingfccinfo@fcc.gov; calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554

Federal Trade Commission

For charges on your telephone bill for non-telephone services, file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can file a complaint with the FTC online at: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.  You can also submit a complaint by calling the FTC toll-free at 1-877-382-4357 (voice) or 1-866-653-4261 (TTY), or writing to:

Federal Trade Commission
CRC-240
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20580

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