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How To Stop Scammers From Adding Bogus Charges To Your Cell Phone Bill

I received my cell phone bill last week and was a little concerned that the balance owed was about $60 more than usual.  I began poring over the bill looking at each one of my four phone lines to try and see where the excess charges were.  The fees were not due to calls, data, or even texting.  Under my teenage daughter's line at the very end of the itemization was a section called 'monthly subscriptions.'  There were four items listed with very odd descriptions.  One was a puzzle of some sort, another was wallpaper (the computer type), another for a quiz club, and the last for a ringtone membership.  Well, as you can imagine, it was time for a little father-daughter talk. 

It turns out that my daughter disclosed her phone number one time on Facebook to enter what she believed to be a free contest.  As a result we were hit with $60 in charges to our phone bill.  I promptly contacted our provider AT&T and discussed the situation with them.  They were very helpful and removed all of the charges immediately.  They also advised me to put a 'purchase block' on my phone lines to prevent this from ever happening again.  I had purchase blocks on several of my lines (I thought this one as well, but I guess not).  I went back through the last 3 months of bills and did not find any other incidents of bogus charges.  I wonder how many people would not notice the charges if it were a lesser amount.  I know in my own case, I may not have even looked at my detailed bill if the balance was only $10 to $20 higher than expected.

The practice is officially called 'cramming' and appears to be the perfect scam.  The cell phone (or landline) provider can not question these charges and must add them to your bill if they are submitted by a third party service.  This loophole allows scam artists to cash in.  Here is a news story of a Florida man that bilked customers out of 35 million dollars while he was in jail!  Cramming Story

My wife and I were discussing just the other day how it is a full time job to stop people from stealing money from us.  A local dentist just overcharged us $1,300 and we would not have known if our insurance company did not bring it to our attention.  As the economy continues to worsen, we must all be more vigilant than ever monitoring our financial transactions. 

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris
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