In taking an actual line-by-line look at your cell phone bill, do you see any unauthorized charges? Perhaps there’s a $9.99 charge for horoscopes or daily jokes, or some other thing that you did not authorize or request. If so, you are a victim of phone cramming.
Phone cramming, or the placement of unauthorized charges on phone bills by outsiders, is slowly gaining a foothold in the cell phone marketplace. Regulators and consumer advocates say that some “crammers,” who previously invaded landline bills, have made their way into wireless schemes as consumers are switching to smart phones.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed the first mobile phone cramming lawsuit in April, and the agency anticipates that many more are likely.
For many, using a mobile phone to purchase things or pay bills can be convenient, especially those without a traditional bank account. Similarly, mobile text-in payments have been extremely influential for charties seeking raise money following a catastrophe.
Cell phone cramming typically involves commercial enterprises billing customers and consumers without their permission or knowledge for horoscope, trivia, or love tips sent by text message to cell phone users. Unfortunately, as this is a relatively new phonemenon, the extent of mobile cramming is still unclear. According to the National Consumers League, Americans pay around $730 million each year in crammed charges. FTC officers fear that as people increasingly use their cell phones to pay for services, the cramming problem is going to keep growing.
The wirless industry, which has its own policies on cramming, set up guidelines on when outside affiliates are allowed to place charges on a consumer’s bill. One key provision is the double opt-in clause, wherein consumers have to confirm two seperate times that they agree to purchase before they can be charged for an item or service on their montly bill. Typically, this initial opt-in occurs when they sign up for the service on the internet. The second opt-in takes place when the provider sends a text to the mobile phone asking for confirmation.
Most regulators and consumer advocates agree that these industry guidelines can easily be cheated by those with bad intentions. Oftentimes, consumers are led to believe that the service they are signing up for online is free. Then, when they recieve the text asking for authorization, they delete it, confusing it for spam. The crammers can consider this failure to respond as a confirmation that the customer does indeed want the service.
Consumers can miss these unathorized charges because they can be listed in an abbreviated form or under a name that isn’t recognized. Frequently, consumers don’t read their lengthy phone bills, line for line, particularly if using automatic bill payments.
Consumers need to be on the lookout for cramming. If you receive a strange text that you suspect might be from a crammer, check out the phone or code number in the message at SMSwatchdog.com. This site allows consumers to see what other consumers have posted about the same sender.
If you do notice a crammed charge, contact the phone company immediately to dispute it. Phone company policies differ, but consumers typically should not have to pay these crammed charges. Similarly, consumers with cramming charges should file a complaint with the FTC or other state agency, letting them know about the third-party charges on your phone bill.
Missouri Class Action Lawyer
Upon review of your cell phone bill, have you discovered crammed charges? You aren’t alone as a victim of fradulent charges. If you have been a victim, call a Missouri class action lawsuit ttorney as soon as possible. An experienced class action attorney can fight to win you the compensation that you justly deserve for your involvement in this illegal activity. To discuss your potential case, call us immediately at 314.409.7060 for a free, no obligation consultation.