Scam of the day – December 24, 2013 – Cramming update

Those of you familiar with the scam called “cramming” from either the list of scams on the right hand side of  the Scamicide home page or having read my book, “The Truth About Avoiding Scams” know that cramming is the name given to the scam that occurs when someone unwittingly agrees to phony charges that keep reoccurring on your phone bill.  At first, the most common way cramming occurred was when people completed contest applications without reading the fine print that also signed them up for a service that would be charged to their phone.  Many times the charges were listed in a vague manner or were for small monthly amounts such that they did not raise suspicion.  Smartphones have recently become the primary target of cramming, which often now starts when you receive a text message about a contest.  When you respond to the text message, once again you get signed up for a monthly service that you never intended to purchase.  Often the crammed amount shows up on the phone bill as “premium text message.”  These charges can range from as little as $2 per month to as much as $25 per month.  Recently the Vermont Attorney General settled cramming claims with 25 different companies accused of cramming who agreed to pay 1.6 million dollars to the state to be returned to cramming victims.  Attorneys General in 39 other states are now actively working to eliminate smartphone cramming with AT & T, Sprint and T-Mobile to eliminate cramming and although these wireless carriers were not directly accused of cramming, their former cooperation with crammers did permit them to perpetrate this fraud.

TIPS

Rarely is there ever anything fine in fine print.  Always make sure, particularly if you are entering a contest that you read the entire rules carefully to make sure that you are not agreeing to charges for a service you do not want.  You should be particularly wary when you receive an offer by way of a text message from a company with which you do not do business on a regular basis.  And, as always, it is a good practice not to click on links in smartphone messages unless you are absolutely sure that the message and link are legitimate.  Too often, they come with malware that can lead to our becoming a victim of identity theft.