Don’t Be the Victim of Cramming on Your Phone Bill

February 22, 2012

You probably didn’t realize your telephone bills may contain charges for products or services other than telephone service, much like charges on a credit card. It’s called “cramming.” Perpetrators hack the telephone billing system and place unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges on your telephone bill. As a result, you could be paying for goods or services you never ordered or received.

The scammers who pull this off tend to keep crammed charges small, to increase the likelihood that you will pay your bill without noticing the false charges. They do this on both consumer and business telephone bills, on landline and wireless bills.

The Consumer Protection Branch in the Justice Department’s Civil Division is working on trying to catch these crooks, but in the meantime, here are a few things you can do if you notice a problem on your bill:

If you see unfamiliar or suspicious charges on your telephone bill, you should:

  1. Contact your local telephone company, tell the telephone company of the cramming, and instruct the company to remove the false charge and give a credit for false charges on any previous bills, and
  2. Submit a complaint summarizing the false charges to the Federal Trade Commission.

Many telephone companies will, upon request, exclude third-party billing from a customer’s telephone bill. Doing so may prevent crammed charges from appearing on telephone bills in the future.

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