Beware! Telephone Bill Rip-Off…

Did you know?

A third party company can take basic identity information that is is easily obtainable on the internet and subscribe you to a “tele” service without your consent and tack a monthly charge to your phone bill under “Miscellaneous Charges”.

Beware, this may be happening to you…

Today my accountant (my wife) checked our Verizon phone bill and immediately noticed a $19.98 increase in our monthly bill… After close examination I found that under “Miscellaneous Charges and Credits” a third party company called ILD Teleservices, Inc. was billing us for (2)-two separate $9.99 charges for (2)-two months of service provided by another company reflected on the bill as “USCREDIREPAIR” (later determined to be U.S. Credit Repair – www.uscreditrepair.com – SITE WENT DOWN).  U.S. Credit Repair touts itself as a company that assists you with repairing your credit.  I never subscribed to any credit repair services, or have any need to; and secondly I was totally unaware that 3rd party sources could piggyback charges onto my phone bill without my consent.

What to do…

I subsequently contacted ILD Teleservice, Inc. (800-433-4518) and the customer services rep proceeds to tell me that I subscribed for the monthly U.S . Credit Repair service on September 9th . The rep was able to recite back to me my phone number, address and a “fictitious” (false) email address that had my full name (i.e. johndoe@imail.com).  I informed them that I was reporting this matter and demanded they remove the charges immediately (credit my Verizon bill).   Customer rep indicated it would take 60 to 90 days for the charges to be credited.   I told the rep I can smell a scam a mile away and the charges to my phone bill better disappear.

Following the call to ILD Teleservices, I contacted Verizon.  After approximately 5 minutes of going through the prompts I reached human being #1, who subsequently put me through to human being #2.  I explained the situation to the customer rep and they advised I should contact ILD Teleservices to have the charges removed.  I informed the rep that I had already did that and then they proceed to tell me, I can put a block on any “Miscellaneous Charges and Credits”.   I could not believe what this customer rep was telling me AND it was at this point I began to wonder if my identity had been sold by Verizon.  Why is there a section on my phone bill that is an open door to other companies to provide charges?

Followup…

Click on the “Ripoff Report” and “Consumer Affairs” logo below to see a listing of consumer complaints about U.S. Credit Repair and ILD Teleservices tacking additional charges onto phone bills (i.e. Verizon, AT&T).

Ripoff Report

 

ConsumerAffairs

 

I subsequently visited the U. S. Credit Repair website (www.uscreditrepair.com – SITE WENT DOWN) and it specifically states on their website “12 Low Monthly Fees comfortably sent to your home phone carrier”.  It also appears that sign up for the service simply just requires your name, address and phone number and an email address.  This is all easily obtainable information on the internet…  I also called a contact number that was available and I received a voice automated system telling me that if I wanted to cancel any services, I would have to provide my full name, phone number and an email address; which I did not do.  While I was composing this article their website magically disappeared from the internet.  I am now wondering if this site comes and goes.   Also, under their “Terms and Agreements” you will find the following clause:

4. PAYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP The payment of your Membership Fee (which includes any trial period fee, enrollment or processing fee and shipping and handling charges, as applicable) is made automatically by a direct charge(s) to your home phone number that was provided upon signing up for our services. If applicable, in the event that your billing source cannot process the Membership Fee due to disputing your phone bill, we may, at our discretion; we may cancel your Membership services until monthly payment is paid.

Conclusion…

There are (3)-three players in this rip-off and I am not going to publicly state who I think the main player is…  I’ll let you be the judge.  I just have to wonder how many people are paying these “add-on miscellaneous charges” and do not know they are paying for them OR they do not pursue the issue due to having to go through all of the red tape.

Call your telephone provider today; tell them you want to block any “miscellaneous charges” to your account.


ATTENTION

You can read an update to this article by [CLICKING HERE]

 

Addendum (1/11/2009) - A reader of this post, who maintains the blog (“Cats Working”)  , posted a similar article, “Keep the Garbage Off Your Phone Bill“, that I encourage you to also read.  One thing that I am noticing is a great majority of these “bogus” third party services are originating out of Florida.


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30 Responses to Beware! Telephone Bill Rip-Off…

  1. Jeremy says:

    Stuff like this pisses me off.

  2. deb says:

    Excellent piece of advise

  3. Bill Mullins says:

    Thanks for this very timely report.

    As you suggested I checked Ripoff Report, and was shocked at the number of complaints. In my view, Verizon is the culprit here, since their poorly designed system allows this scam to be succesful.

    Bill Mullins

  4. Rick says:

    Jeremy,

    Believe me, I was not a happy camper…

    Rick

  5. Rick says:

    Bill,

    Isn’t this amazing… This is just another good example where we can be scammed… I really do wonder how many people have overlooked this. Even it is overlooked one time, the culprits still make some money.

    Rick

  6. Terri says:

    Verizon sold all the unpublished and unlisted phone numbers along with the addresses in our area to a local phone book. (so, yes they do sell your information!) They said it was a mistake and offered to change the phone numbers for free. After many complaints about the addresses being released……they offered to pay $1000 toward installation of an alarm system. Aren’t most systems free with monthly monitoring fees? I canceled my service with Verizon. I wouldn’t put it by them to conduct a scam like this. They probably own the website responsible.

    • whatsonmypc says:

      Terri,

      Thank you for visiting my blog… I hope you come back to visit.

      You know you are exactly right about that (publishing the unpublished numbers)… The hoops I had to jump through just to talk to someone, in this case, was absolutely no business model I would want to follow. I am also leaning to finding another provider.

      Again, Thank you…

      Rick

  7. Ilona Olayan says:

    Dear Rick:

    I am the Director of Marketing for ILD Telecommunications, and I’d like to follow-up on your blog post. After reading about your experience, I would like to investigate your case and track the charge back to its original source to determine an appropriate course of action and to ensure that your charges have been removed and you are not charged in the future.

    As a bit of background, ILD is a billing clearinghouse – we provide consumers the opportunity to choose to bill products and services, such as online services and collect calling, to their phone bill. Instead of purchasing these items with a credit card or opening an account with the provider, the consumer authorizes the transaction, and the provider sends the transaction information to ILD so that ILD can incorporate it into the phone bill.

    After reading your blog and conducting some research, I found that, while ILD does not bill for a company by the name of US Credit Repair, ILD does bill for a company by a similar name. The name of the company is US Credit Find, and they charge $9.99 per month for their services. Their website is http://www.uscreditfind.com/.

    In addition to blocking your phone number through Verizon, we can also block your telephone number in ILD’s system to ensure you no longer are billed by US Credit Find or any service provider using ILD for payment services. In order to do this, I will need the phone number of the line that was billed, as well as the best way to reach you. Please send this information to my attention at askild@ildmail.com. If any of your other readers would like me to conduct a similar investigation of the charges on their bills, they can send me the same information to askild@ildmail.com. Please also include your contact information and the billed phone number, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

    Thank you,

    Ilona Olayan

  8. Beth McCallon says:

    I also was a victim of this thievery. I didn’t really notice the charge on my AT&T bill last month. I did notice that it was about $9 higher than it had been in the past, but I thought it was for something else as I have my local phone service bundled with internet and satellite service. I looked more closely at it this month’s bill, and tucked away on the last page, after all the fine print, I found a charge from ILD Teleservices for $8.23. I called the 800 number shown and was asked if I knew who (name) was? It was my son’s name but I didn’t believe that he would sign up for something without my permission. They said that he signed up on the internet and it was for an 800 number for voicemail. They said they would cancel the service and credit my account for this month and next month as it was too late to cancel the charge that will show up on the next bill. I spoke to my son later that evening and he didn’t know anything about the service and hadn’t signed up for it. I have filed a complaint with the BBB and will call AT&T tomorrow to file a complaint, request a refund, and to block any miscellaneous charges. Thank you for posting this. It is invaluable to the public to discover that we have allies in the struggle of dealing with internet predators.

  9. whatsonmypc says:

    Hello Beth,

    I also found out after writing this post that my parents were also subject to erroneous charges for services which they did not subscribe. Charges showed up on their bill under “Miscellaneous Charges” for a VoxTrail (Voice Mail) service. I am currently following up on this as well. Thank you for your response and writeup.

    Rick

  10. Amazed says:

    You all would be amazed at how many sons and daughters sign up for things and then deny it. Also, people sign up for things because they don’t ready everything-they are too busy trying to get a free gift card. I know, it happened to me so don’t be too quick to blame Verizon or ILD.

  11. whatsonmypc says:

    Amazed,

    Thank you for your response; AND yes I agree (to a certain point) with what you have conveyed; HOWEVER, in my case it does not meet the criteria that you have mentioned. And secondly, using the gift card example; if I’m being signed up for something, without my knowledge, because I’m purchasing a gift card, then that is deception in itself… Too make a point how epidemic this problem is, visit the Federal Communications Commission website and do a search for “cramming”… Just this week alone, I have had approximately a dozen people contact me where erroneous charges have shown up on their phone bills… Each case has followed the same pattern, with the same players…

    Again, thank you for your input…

    Rick

  12. whatsonmypc says:

    To all Readers,

    ILD Teleservices placed an overall bill block on my telephone line to prevent future billings from ILD and were opening an investigation into the service provider that was reflected on my bill… Was further informed that I would be fully credited for the charges and that it would take 2 to 3 billing cycles.

    If you experience issues such as these, where ILD Teleservices is involved, I encourage you to contact them as well.

  13. [...] and be unaware of it, via your phone bill– as fellow blogger Rick Robinette describes here, Beware! Telephone Bill Rip-Off… * also see his follow-up post, Are you a victim [...]

  14. Linda Fox says:

    I also am a victim of cramming with Verizon as the culprit. I did not notice the small unauthorized charge until after I hit the pay button on my on line banking. I then noticed the difference from the amount listed for my prior month payment. The company charging the small $7.42 amount was called OAN Services. I will call Verizon to get this reversed after the holiday weekend (I hope) since my phone is unlisted and I have no long distance service just the very basic to accommodate local calls and people calling in to my house. OAN is listed on a number of user comments as a cramming scam artist so I hope the FCC will do something (ha ha we are dealing with a government agency who are just as bad as the crammers, I know, I deal a lot with the Feds and State agencies). I filed a complaint, but I know it will get kicked to a desk and will never be seen again.

    • whatsonmypc says:

      Linda,

      Just rec’d my Verizon bill yesterday and after much work I was finally credited for the unauthorized charges. If you do call Verizon, request that they block any miscellaneous charges to your bill…

      Also, the response I rec’d from the FCC was a PDF file with the information I had posted on the internet about cramming… Whole thing, from Verizon to the Government is a joke!

      Thanks for visiting…

      Rick

  15. Delaine says:

    I have had this happen countless times on my business phonee with AT&T. I was informed that they must by law accept these charges and I can not block anyone from “cramming” charges onto my phone bill. The only thing I can do is protest when it shows up. Unfortunately, if you use online billing, the details of the company don’t show up, so you must continue to receive a paper bill.

    • whatsonmypc says:

      Delaine,

      Numerous people are victim of this and I can not believe that it is an acceptable practice… We need to write to our political representatives to express our concerns about this issue. I would also like to know what representative were behind making this sort of matter a law.

      Thank you for your great comment!

      Rick

  16. ildteleservices says:

    Hello,

    ILD Teleservices is a leading payment processor for transactions between merchants and consumers. Through contractual relationships with telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon, we give merchants the opportunity to let consumers charge products and services such as long distance, internet access, and collect calling directly to your phone bill.

    As a result, instead of purchasing these items with a credit card or opening an account with the merchant, you can have a transaction billed directly to your phone. When you do, the merchant sends your transaction information to ILD, and ILD adds the charge to your phone bill. It’s a service very similar to what credit card companies provide.

    If you have a charge you believe is incorrect, or if you have any other questions or concerns with ILD, please let us know. We want to address any and all issues you may have. To contact us, please email us at askild@ildmail.com. If you would prefer to call us, please call our hotline at 800-953-7765.

    Thank you, and please let us know how we can help.

    Ilona Olayan

  17. Jerry says:

    I had this happen to me also. I don’t understand how the phone company can accept charges from a third party on my behalf. ILD says their service is similar to a credit card, however I would certainly prefer to use my credit card or even PayPal for any service that I purchase on the internet as they are a lot less public than my email address and phone number.

    Verizon must be receiving some kind of incentive in order to provide this “service”. Another thing I’ve personally found with Verizon is that their bills seem to be very difficult to discern especially when you have multiple services from them like me (cell, home & internet), it almost seems that their billing is difficult by design. Unless you’re on your toes, it’s possible that 3 months or so could go by with these unwanted charges without you noticing. In theory, you should be able to get a credit, but how many people aren’t persistent enough to make sure they get what is owed them and who is reimbursing them for their time and efforts?

    Let’s say they do this to conservative estimate of 3000 people at a charge of $14.95 per month like mine was. 50% figure it out. That leaves 1500 people times $14.95…that’s $22,425 for 1 month! That’s over a quarter of a million a year.

    I think this is a very unethical practice. Smells like a good opportunity for a class action law suit…any rainmaker attorney’s out there?

    • whatsonmypc says:

      Jerry,

      Everything that you have reflected is my thoughts exactly… These companies are making a killing off of those who do not figure this out or do not even know it is reflected on their phone bills. From what I see ILD goes into damage repair mode when someone figure out their process. Bring on the “rainmaker”!

      Rick

  18. J Draiman says:

    Unauthorized Charges on Your Local Phone – Utility Bill?
    How to Find Them, Eliminate Them & Get Your Money Back!
    If your business still gets its phone service through the old “AT&T and Verizon, etc” local phone company (as opposed to one of the newer competitive phone providers) then you need to double check your phone bill each and every month for charges you did not authorize. You may not know it but the local phone company allows other companies to bill you through your local phone bill. And while the local phone company allows other businesses to bill you through your local phone bill, the local phone company does not verify that the charges being billed to you by the other company are valid. When these unauthorized charges fraudulently appear on your phone bill it’s called “cramming”. Unfortunately you as the business owner or manager are the only one that can spot the unauthorized charges and if you don’t comb over your bill every month to spot these unauthorized charges – you’ll pay for them.
    Why does the local phone company allow other companies to pass charges onto your phone bill? “Third-party billing” is supposedly a great convenience in that you only have to pay one bill instead of separate bills for obvious authorized phone related charges like yellow-page advertising in the “real yellow pages”, 411 information calls and long-distance calls from your chosen long distance carrier. Over the years though, some less-than-scrupulous companies have realized that most businesses rarely scrutinize their local-phone bills. To take advantage of this, these companies have come up with elaborate schemes to place
    unauthorized charges on your phone bill that you’ll end up paying for without even thinking. Unauthorized
    charges you can end up paying for include charges for unwanted (and unused) email accounts, web sites,
    directory information calls, directory advertising in obscure publications, voice mail accounts and other
    services.
    In theory, before these charges can be placed on your phone bill, the company that is originating the third-party billed charges is supposed to have a verification of the order like a voice recording. In reality though,
    all the company needs to do to initiate the charge is submit your name and phone number to the billing
    entity. The verifications are only required to be produced if a complaint is filed.
    To prevent these charges from appearing on you business phone bill it’s helpful to understand the four
    parties that make unauthorized third party phone charges a costly reality. Party number one is any
    employee who can answer your business phones. The unauthorized charge is rarely random and it usually
    happens after one of your company employees gets a telemarketing call. Employees should be instructed to
    document and report any overly aggressive telemarketing calls they receive. Party number two is the
    telemarketing company that originates the unauthorized charges by trying to get your employee to accept
    some service for which you’ll be billed through your local phone bill. Party number three is the third-party
    billing company that has billing agreements with your local phone company. The name of the third-party
    billing is the one that is prominently displayed on your phone bill. After the third-party billing company’s
    name is the name of the company that is originating the unwanted charges. Party number four is your “former Ma Bell” local phone company that collects the unwanted charges (keeps a share for “Ma”) and then passes the rest to the third-party billing company (who keeps a big share) and then passes the balance on to the company that initiated the unwanted charge.
    Following are some of the top third-party billing names and unauthorized charge originators you’ll find on
    your phone bill. If you see these names on your phone bill you’ll want to call the toll free number listed next to the charge to confirm it’s a charge that’s been properly authorized to be placed on your bill. Following are actual examples that we’ve recently found while auditing business phone bills.
    We recommend customers should review any utility bills issued by deregulated utility companies. (In most instances today, consumers are paying higher charges to the deregulated gas and electric supply companies).
    All Utility – Energy, gas, electric and water bills should be reviewed for proper reading and tariff.
    If you suspect that you have been overcharged ask for detailed explanation and or file a complaint with your State Utility Commission.
    Compiled by: Jay Draiman, Utility & Telecom Auditor

  19. P Costello says:

    Thanks, your info explains the complaint I sent to Complaints.com:…
    I checked my Verizon Bill and found totally false and unsubscribed charges from some company called Teleserve added to the Verizon Bill and when I expressed my outrage that Verizon would be accomplice to a fraud, Verizon claimed they had no choice under law, that they were obligated to charge as a third party and the Tecommunications Bill of Congress yaddah yaddah yaddah but they checked and I was correct, the charges were false and they cut 30 dollars off the bill so how long this charge has been added must be for at least 6 months before I caught it-so ALERT to all Verizon customers-I am tempted to cancel my account with Verizon for being so brazen about it–how can they charge a customer for a third party without checking first if the charges are legit, but just rely on what some unknown third party tells them, and how does that work, Verizon collecting for other companies?????

    • Ramblinrick says:

      P Costello,

      This whole situation is a sad situation and is permitted to happen. In a sense it is endorsed by the Government…

      Thank you for your comment on this…

      Rick

  20. [...] What’s On My PC Beware! Telephone Bill Rip-Off… [...]

  21. pochp says:

    Hey Rick,
    this is important so I’ll plug this in
    at Plato on-line.

    • Ramblinrick says:

      Pochp,

      That telephone bill ripoff is a for real loophole that these scam artists use. The Federal Government even has a site up about it; however, does nothing to go after these people.

      I am always telling people, make sure you check that phone bill. One person I know was being charged for over a year and did not even know it…

      Rick

  22. pochp says:

    Now I just remembered because you mentioned the feds:
    here in the philippines, we were also victimized
    by the monopolized phone co. refusing to reinstall
    our landline saying we owe them big which is a lie!
    That’s more shameless isn’t it?
    Continue the fight. I’m with you!

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