For many years I have been warning you about the dangers of cramming. Cramming is the name for putting unauthorized third party charges on to a consumer’s telephone bill without the knowledge or approval of the consumer. This has long been a problem with landline phones and in recent years has become a major problem with cellular service. There are many ways that these unauthorized charges make their way to a victim’s phone, sometimes, consumers unknowingly sign up for premium texting services that may be for things such as flirting tips, horoscopes or celebrity gossip. Whatever the source of the charges, they are fraudulent and typically cost about $9.99 per month, but can be as high as 24.95 and continue to appear for months without end.
Recently the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled a major cramming lawsuit it brought against American eVoice, Ltd and eight other affiliated companies as well as four individuals involved in the scam through which the defendants placed more than 70 million dollars in unauthorized charges on consumers’ phone bills. Under the terms of the settlement all of the defendants are barred from participating telephone billing. In addition a 71 million dollar judgment was imposed although most of that was suspended due to the defendants having insufficient assets.
You should carefully review your phone bill each month to identify if cramming charges appeared anywhere on your bill. These charges often appear with vague descriptions so if you don’t recognize any charge, you should contact your provider to explain the charges to you. Sometimes the charges appear in sections of your bill labeled “miscellaneous” or “third party charges.”
Receiving unsolicited text messages is often an indication that you are a victim of cramming so if you do receive such messages, check your phone bill carefully to see if these are related to unauthorized charges. Most cell phone carriers will allow you to block charges from third parties for free, which is a good way to avoid cramming.