Recently the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined two companies, Calling 10 and Teleseven along with their owner Patrick Hines 3.43 million dollars for illegal “cramming.” Cramming is the name for the practice where consumers are charged on their phone bills for services they did not order. In this particular case, Hines and his companies purchased about a million toll-free telephone numbers that were similar to the telephone numbers for Chase Bank and other financial institutions and then took advantage when people intending to call one of the legitimate companies misdialed the number and ended up speaking with one of Hines’ fraudulent companies which not only did not inform the caller that they had reached a wrong number, but also tacked on charges to the callers’ phone bills that were never authorized for services the callers never received. As a result of their fraudulent actions, the two companies and Hines individually were fined 3.43 million dollars.
Today’s telephone bills are pretty confusing and scammers who use cramming bank on the fact that many people just don’t pay enough attention to the details of their bills. Carefully check out your phone bill each month. To determine if you have been crammed, look for terms such as “Miscellaneous charges and credits,” “member fee” or other charges that you don’t recognize.