Fraudulent third-party charges could cost wireless customers up to $887 million a year.
That’s according to a nationwide coalition of consumer advocates, including CUB, who are pushing federal regulators to adopt tough rules cracking down on the “cramming” scam.
Cramming is when a third-party company places a charge on your phone bill for a service you never ordered or received. The charges are often hard to spot, and are designed to blend in with the many other fees listed on your bill. Online contests, surveys and spam text messages are just a few of the ways scammers phish for your information to gain access to your bill.
Last year, CUB released an analysis showing that wireless cramming was on the rise in Illinois, with more than half of all third-party wireless charges likely fraudulent.
So how do you protect yourself from cramming?
• Scan your monthly bill carefully for suspicious charges.
• Protect your cellphone number. Register it with the Do Not Call list, at www.DoNotCall.gov.
• Beware of online contests or “free” offers that require filling out a form or giving your wireless number.
• Ask your carrier if it offers free fraud protections, such as blocks on texts and data.
• Beware of questionable texts. The website www.SMSwatchdog.com can help you identify fraudulent messages.
Read CUB’s fact sheet on cramming for more tips.