Cellphone scams bill for phony charges

All Things Legal

You bought the expensive phone with the fancy data plan and figured your hefty monthly phone bill will cover all of your usage needs. Unfortunately, you may still be the victim of a scam.

You should check your phone bill every month because it may contain charges for random landline voicemail services, text messages and other fraudulent data subscriptions that you never requested.

The Federal Trade Commission actively pursues phone service providers and other companies that generate and send out text messages with horoscopes, trivia and celebrity gossip tidbits, or bill for the provision of landline voicemail services.

These subscriptions, at a cost of $9.95 to $24.95 per month, can be charged to a consumer’s phone bill without their knowledge or consent. This scam is called “cramming.”

Consumers may ignore the text messages as spam and be shocked later to discover the monthly charge on their bill.

If you are careful, you can avoid this kind of scam. To detect and avoid cramming charges on your phone bill, do the following:

  • Check your phone bill every month.

You may have set up an arrangement for a monthly automated online payment and typically ignore your phone bill. Yet, if you take the time to review your statement, you will detect any fraudulent charges and avoid erroneously paying for these scams.

  • Consider placing a block on third-party charges. Many phone carriers offer this third-party blocking service free of charge.
  • Be very careful when a website asks for your phone number.

Some websites advertise free prizes like concert tickets or gift cards in exchange for your phone number or other personal information. You may be getting set up for a scam.

  • Review your phone carrier’s policy on refunds for fraudulent charges and be aware of any time period limitations to challenge fraudulent charges.

If you think you have been the victim of a cramming scam, immediately report it to your phone carrier. In addition, you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.

You may also want to call the Fort Meade Legal Assistance Office to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney at 301-677-9504 or 301-677-9536.

The Office of the Staff Judge Advocate is located at 4217 Morrison St., first floor.

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