If you have not taken a look at your phone bill lately, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. A growing number of consumers have complained about unauthorized and unexplained charges on their bills.
Such charges have become so common that telephone companies even have a special name for them; they call them cramming. Cramming typically refers to the practice of adding charges
Such charges have become so common that telephone companies even have a special name for them; they call them cramming. Cramming typically refers to the practice of adding charges onto a phone bill, often without the consent or even knowledge of the consumer.
In some cases, cramming charges originate with a free trial. Consumers may download an app or agree to an added service for a short period of time. While charges added after the free trial period may be legitimate, in some cases the company will continue to add the charge even after the consumer has requested a cancellation. It is then that legitimate charges cross the line and become cramming.
Some cases of cramming are just plain fraudulent. In some cases, scam artists simply add the bogus charges to the bill without a legitimate reason whatsoever. The scammers may simply buy lists of phone numbers and add the charges to each one. No matter how they obtain the numbers, the charges keep adding up month after month, often without the consumer’s knowledge.
One of the reasons cramming is so hard to fight is that the charges are often hidden. The charges may be listed simply as added services or premium service. Without further explanation, it can be hard for consumers to determine the legitimacy of the charge -- let alone fight it.
One of the best ways to fight cramming is to request a detailed and itemized phone bill. Having the bill delivered electronically and paid automatically may be convenient, but it can also be risky. If you never examine the phone bill and review the charges, you may not know if you have fallen victim to cramming.
Whether you are dealing with your home phone service or a cell phone bill, it is important to carefully review the charges at least once every few months. If your carrier provides full online access, you can simply log on and review all the charges. If not, switching to paper statements can make spotting fraudulent charges a lot easier.
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