Are you a victim of “CRAMMING”?

This post is to provide you with an update to a recent article that was posted on the blog called: “Beware! Telephone Bill Ripoff…”

I strongly encourage everyone to read that article [click here] and take necessary action to block any miscellaneous charges being added to your phone bill. A third party company can take basic identity information (name, phone number, address, email) that is easily obtainable, and subscribe you to a “tele” service without your consent and apply a monthly charge to your phone bill under “Miscellaneous Charges”. You do not even have to be a user of the internet to have this happen to you.

How serious is this problem?

It did not take me long to learn, after this happened to me, that there was people all around me being victimized. In one case I called the phone carrier and the customer rep chuckled and said this has been going on for about 7 years… If you call the company that is actually charging you, they are more than agreeable to help you get credited for the charges, but it can take 30 to 90 days. In my case a block was put into place by the company that was processing the charges and by my telephone carrier to prevent future charges.

Upon further research of this matter, I learned from the Federal Communication Commission that this practice is very common; so common in fact that if you call their complaint number it is one of the selections on the teleprompt; so common in fact that this practice has been given a a “name” (called cramming); and so common in fact that they have a web page exclusively devoted to “cramming” [click here].

Cramming

“Cramming” is the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading, or deceptive charges on your telephone bill. Crammers rely on confusing telephone bills in an attempt to trick consumers into paying for services they did not authorize or receive, or that cost more than the consumer was led to believe.”

While cramming charges typically appear on consumers’ local telephone bills, they may also be included with bills issued by long distance telephone companies and companies providing other types of services, including wireless telephone, beeper, and pager services.

Where to file complaints, if you have been crammed…

Federal Communications Commission

For charges related to telephone service between states or internationally, you can file your complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file a complaint using an FCC on-line complaint form found at esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by e-mailing fccinfo@fcc.gov; calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554.

Federal Trade Commission

For charges on your telephone bill for non-telephone services, file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can file a complaint with the FTC online at: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.  You can also submit a complaint by calling the FTC toll-free at 1-877-382-4357 (voice) or 1-866-653-4261 (TTY), or writing to:

Federal Trade Commission
CRC-240
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20580.

 

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9 thoughts on “Are you a victim of “CRAMMING”?

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  1. Rick,
    I checked my phone bill and there was no problem with it. I shall keep on checking future ones. Thanks for the heads up.
    Agnes

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  2. Wow! Where have I been that I didn’t know something about this? You are doing a good public service with this post, and I have directed several friends to your article.

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    1. Hal,

      Thank you for visiting… I have had numerous folks contact me following this blog post that had been charged on their bills without even knowing it. The whole matter is a vicious cycle, where you get charged, you get credited by these companies (once you discover the charges), you report it, AND nothing gets done. The Gov’t shrugs it off and sends you information on how to avoid being crammed. I venture to say this is a big “scam” industry…

      Oh, I visited your blog… WOW!

      Rick

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  3. I wonder if the rise in unemployment will lead to more of these bogus “service” companies being formed exploit the phone system. There’s profit in it for the phone carriers. They can either sell your personal information outright to scammers, or skim a cut off any bogus charges they allow on your bill, as well as keep any finance charges that accrue (if you throw in the towel after being jerked around by the bogus company and just pay them to get the outstanding balance off your bill).

    The system is backward, ALLOWING anybody to put unauthorized charges on your bill unless you specifically request a third-party, or cramming, block. The block should automatically be in place unless YOU ask the phone company to drop it.

    So, in dealing with any government agencies about this, anyone who’s been scammed should lobby to make cramming blocks AUTOMATIC.

    If you’re interested in reading about my similar experience and how little help Verizon was in corrected a problem THEY allowed to happen, visit:

    http://catsworking.wordpress.com/2008/01/22/keep-the-garbage-off-your-phone-bill/

    Karen

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    1. Catsworking,

      You are correct in saying that the system is backward in allowing anybody to put unauthorized charges on your bill… The block should be in place and it should be our decision to unblock it, if necessary… I have been thinking about this whole thing and had thought about contacting a Senator or Congressman and try to bring this to the surface.

      Thanks for your comments…

      Rick

      Like

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