Sneaky little charges can appear on phone bills and go unnoticed for months. Victims of so-called “cramming” often face a tough battle to stop being billed every month and start getting their money back. In order to fight cramming, BBB recommends reviewing every bill and being cautious when giving out personal information such as phone numbers.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports that cramming is on the rise. Cramming can come from any number of sources. Some victims may have inadvertently signed up for a subscription service—such as free ringtones, jokes or horoscopes—not realizing they would be billed every month. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently cracked down on one company that used telemarketers to convince people into signing up for “free” trial services. Calling a psychic hotline or entering a sweepstakes can also lead to cramming. In some cases, the victim is just an unlucky random target.
BBB recommends taking the following five steps to fight cramming:
- Keep a close eye on monthly statements. Cramming charges can appear on any phone bill, so monitoring your monthly statements is extremely important. The sooner you spot the charges, the sooner you can fight them.
- Know your rights. Contact your phone provider to see if you can completely restrict third-party billing on your account.
- Know whom you can trust online. Before handing over any personal information online, always research the business with your BBB at http://www.bbb.org/us/Find-Business-Reviews/.
- Guard your personal information closely. Be wary when asked to provide personal information to sign up for a free trial or enter a sweepstakes. Always read the fine print on any offer so you understand how your personal information may be used.
- Know where to complain. If you are unable to resolve the issue either through your telephone provider or directly with the business, file a complaint with the FCC for charges related to telephone service and FTC for all other cramming charges on your phone bill. You can also file a complaint with BBB.
For more trustworthy advice on managing personal finances and protecting your wallet, go to http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-finance/.