If you are reviewing your monthly landline or wireless telephone bill and notice that there are charges on the bill that you have not authorized, your phone bill may have been “crammed.” Cramming is the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges on your telephone bill. Crammers rely on tricking consumers into paying for services they did not authorize or receive, or that cost more than the consumer was led to believe. Crammed charges can be for voicemail services, website design services, calling plans or email accounts, to name just a few. Cramming can occur on both landline and wireless telephone bills.
Tips to prevent cramming:
- Always review your monthly telephone bills thoroughly for the billing of unauthorized companies, services and rates. The Federal Communications Commission’s Truth-in-Billing rules require telephone companies to provide clear, plain language that is not misleading in describing services for which you are being billed.
- If you are paying unexpectedly more for your telephone service or your bill appears suspicious or unclear with general terms such as “service fee,” “service charge,” “other fees,” “voicemail,” “mail server,” “calling plan,” “psychic” and “membership,” consult with your telephone service provider to make sure you are paying for the services you authorized.
- Always read promotional materials, including the fine print, before signing up for any service which could be billed to your telephone bill. Pay particular attention to online sites that you visit. Make sure you have not been tricked into agreeing to a transaction that will lead to unauthorized charges on your phone bill.
If your phone bill has been crammed:
- Contact the company that charged you for the unauthorized service and request that they adjust your bill for the incorrect charges.
- Inform your authorized telephone provider that you have been crammed and inquire about the procedure for removing the incorrect charges from your bill. Continue to pay your phone bill on time, but do not pay any crammed charges that you have already reported to your landline carrier or cell phone carrier.
- File a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the Arkansas Attorney General’s office.
- File a complaint with the Arkansas Public Service Commission.
For more information, you can also visit the Federal Communications Commission.