What is phone bill cramming?
Sometimes phone companies add extra fees to your phone bill (cell and landline) for services that you didn’t use or request. This is called phone bill cramming – a scam you may never notice. The extra fees are often quite small, meaning you’ll probably not notice them or be unlikely to spend time looking into them, thinking it’s more hassle than it’s worth for the small charges.
How can you recognize a phone bill cramming scam?
Check your phone bill every month, and look for fees that aren’t part of your plan.
Sometimes you can access a more detailed version of your phone bill online.
Often, unexpected fees will be from another company that is not your phone company.
The fees will typically be described in generic terms like:
- service fee
- calling charge
- service charge
Check to see if these fees were on your phone bill last month or even last year, and if they were, it could be worth calling your phone provider.
If there is a “third party” section on your phone bill, you’ll want to pay special attention to that.
Lastly, one of the most common types of phone cramming is for products like ringtones or wallpapers, or for premium SMS services.
These services can include:
- sports scores
- daily jokes
- celebrity gossip
You will often receive the messages for these services you didn’t agree to pay for in the first place.
What should you do if this scam happens to you?
There are three main things to do if you suspect you’re a victim of a phone cramming scram.
- First, call your phone company. Ask to have any charges that aren’t correct removed from future bills, and ask for a refund for incorrect fees that you’ve paid already. Often, your phone statement will have more information on what to do about fees you didn’t authorize.
- Second, report the cramming scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), online or by calling 877-382-4357.
- Finally, prevent any phone cramming scams in the future. Don’t give your phone number to websites you don’t trust. If you get text messages from strangers, that could be a sign that you’ve been signed up for a service you didn’t agree to.
Keep a record somewhere of any services you have agreed to or used. You can also call your phone company and ask them to block charges from other companies. Most companies do phone number blocking for free.
Safe calling and watch out for those extra fees!
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This information is provided for general consumer educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice.