Beware of phone bill scams
IF YOU’RE LIKE MOST people, you may not think
to review every single charge on your monthly
phone bill. You may wonder why your bill is so high
in a particular month, and you may find your bill
difficult to read, leaving you unable to determine
what various charges are for.
The reality is that you may be getting ripped off.
There are a multitude of ways in which scammers
are able to bilk you out of your money. Oftentimes
this may happen right under your nose, without you
even knowing it.
Slamming is the illegal practice of switching a
consumer’s land-line telephone company for local,
local toll or long-distance service without permission. You may receive a call offering to switch you to
a new service that is cheaper or, in some cases, free,
such as a no-cost website or a listing in the Yellow
Pages. This can result in switching your local carrier
without you being aware, and in turn raising the cost
of making local or long-distance phone calls.
What to do if you’ve been slammed: Look at
your phone bill carefully. If your authorized telephone company has been switched without your
permission, call your phone company right away
and demand that this be reversed. Under Federal
Communications Commission rules, you don’t
have to pay for the first 30 days of the unauthorized
Cramming occurs when outside companies
“cram” your phone bill with all sorts of specialty
services that you never ordered or used. Companies
other than your phone company are allowed to put
charges on your phone bill; as a result, consumers are being charged for such items as voice-mail
service and directory listing. These often consist
of small charges, perhaps $1.50, in the hopes that
you won’t even notice them crammed into your bill.
These charges add up quickly, and can prove quite
costly each month.
What to do if you’ve been crammed: Consumers
are responsible for discovering cramming charges on
their own. This means the only way to prevent or
catch these extra charges is to inspect your phone bill
carefully. Decrease your chances of being crammed
by carefully reading sweepstakes entries or other
junk-mail solicitations before filling them out. Do
not speak at length with telemarketers. If you have
been crammed, save all paperwork and immediately call your local phone provider and dispute the
charge. Call the third-party provider listed on the bill
and dispute these charges directly.
Other scams to be aware of include:
“Dial-around” access numbers to save
money. These seven-digit numbers that you can
dial to get around your regular long-distance phone
company to save money could actually result in
higher, not lower, charges if there are added fees or
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Collect-calling scam. In this scam, you receive
a call from an operator asking you to accept an urgent
collect call. Many consumers accept the charge out
of worry that it might be from a friend or relative
who is in trouble. Once you agree to accept the call,
though, you will be billed even if a conversation does
not take place.
Not all 800 numbers are toll free. Some
consumers are tricked into being charged for 800
numbers by following instructions to dial “personal
activation codes” that are really access codes linking
them to pay-per-call numbers. If you are calling an
800 number for entertainment or information services, the company must charge you ahead of time
for what is called a “pre-subscription service” or the
charges are made fraudulently.
How to protect yourself from phone bill
• Charges for many types of services can
appear on your phone bill. Make sure to inspect your
phone bill carefully each month.
• Read the fine print on contest
entry forms, product coupons and other
promotional material that may involve
an agreement to accept service.
• Don’t return calls you do not
• Beware of imposters who
pose as a representative from
your phone company. They will
try to trick you by asking for
your satisfaction with a service. A “yes” answer to a question can be tape-recorded
and used as proof you are
agreeing to another service.
In an age where cell
phones, emails and social
media are becoming a primary method of communication, consumers may overlook
the services of their home or
business land-line phone.
Scammers are banking on the
possibility that you will not
check your phone bill. Follow
these tips and be wise when
your phone bill comes at the
end of the month. C
I BOUGHT A refrigerator
from a reputable kitchen
After a few months, the
refrigerator broke down.
I called the company and
they sent out an independent repairman. After he
;xed it, I signed a waiver
releasing the repairman
from any responsibility.
Soon, the refrigerator
broke down again.
However, since I signed
this waiver, am I out
YOU SIGNED A waiver for the repairman, relieving him of responsi- bility for the refrigerator, but you did not sign a waiver with the kitchen appliance company. The company is still respon- sible for selling you a product that did not work properly, and is therefore responsible for ;xing it. Let the executives at the company know hat happened. Demand that the refrigerator be ;xed. If they refuse, then you have a legitimate case for small-claims court. C
© 2011 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
AMY CAN TRELL
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