If you don’t carefully check your phone bill every month, you may become a victim of cramming. The LA Times reports the Federal Trade Commission recently asked a federal court to shut down an operation that profited more than $70 million by adding charges to phone bills across the nation. Continue reading to find out how to protect yourself, and what to do if you believe you’ve already been scammed.
My best advice to avoid scams is to stay alert and on top of new threats. You can easily sign up to receive scam alerts from the FTC (it’s the fourth option on the site). Here are other ways to protect yourself.
- Read your phone bill, and don’t just scan through it. If you find innocent sounding terms like “use fee”, “member fee”, or “activation,” figure out what these charges are for from your phone company. You also want to check the miscellaneous or third party section in your bill. If you haven’t bought anything through your phone, then there shouldn’t be any charges. Odd looking area codes like 001 or 005 should also be a red flag!
- Call your phone company. They should be able to tell you what all charges on your phone bill are for. If they can’t, you should be able to dispute charges.
- Reduce your risk of cramming. Avoid using your phone to enter to win contests, join clubs, or request free prizes. Guilty! I’ve used my cell phone to score freebies. If you decide to do this anyway, make sure you know who’s behind the contest or freebie offer. Many times these contest or freebie offers offer gift cards to recognizable stores to get your attention, but those stores are not involved.
- File a complaint with the FTC, if you believe you’ve paid for bogus services. The FTC wants you to file a formal complaint with the agency online at www.ftc.gov, or by calling (877) 382-4357.
Looking at your monthly phone bill will not only keep you save, but save you money! Want to save even more money on your fixed monthly bills? Take Bobbi’s advice and review your fixed bills to reduce costs!