Check Your Phone Bill Day

OK, it’s not really Check Your Phone Bill Day. But how about checking your wireless phone bill anyway? Pull it up online, dig out your paper copy, or if you don’t get a detailed bill from your phone company, go ahead and ask for one (we’ll wait).

Ready? Now take a close look. You’re looking for unfamiliar charges. You might see Min. Use Fee, Activation, Member Fee, Voice Mail, or Web Hosting. Or you might see area codes you’ve never heard of or ringtones from a company you don’t know. The Federal Communications Commission website has a sample phone bill that might help.

Find anything? If so, you may have been crammed. Many people don’t realize it, but outside companies can add charges to your phone bill for their services. When a company charges you this way without your permission, it’s called cramming — and it’s illegal.

In fact, today the FTC announced that Jesta Digital — which you might know as Jamster — has agreed to settle charges that it allegedly “crammed” charges onto people’s mobile phone bills — supposedly for ringtones and other mobile content — after people playing the Angry Birds mobile app on their Android device clicked through a Jesta ad claiming to have detected a virus on the device (it hadn’t). 

warning image that says virus detected and includes a remove button

If you were billed for services from Jamster you didn’t agree to, or if someone in your family under 18 agreed to the charges, you may be eligible for a refund. To apply for a refund, call Jamster toll-free at 866-856-5267 or e-mail info@jamster.com. If you have questions about the case, call the FTC at 202-326-3523.

But back to your phone bill: you’ve found something. So what can you do about it?

  1. Ask your phone company about it

If the charge isn’t from your phone company, the name of the company charging you should be printed nearby. Your phone company should be able to tell you more about the charge.

  1. Dispute it

Your statement should tell you how to dispute errors on your bill.

  1. Follow-up with an email or letter sent by certified mail, and ask for a return receipt

It’s your proof that the company received your letter. Keep a copy of your bill and any other documentation for your files.

  1. File a complaint

Even if you get a refund, if you suspect you’ve been a victim of cramming, file a complaint with the FTC, your state Attorney General’s office, or the state agency that regulates phone service in your state — often the state public service commission or public utilities commission, which you can look up on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners website.

  1. Consider whether a block is right for you

A number of phone companies offer to block third-party charges. Visit your phone company’s website for details about what kind of blocking it offers. If your phone company blocks all third party charges, you won’t be able to sign up for legitimate third party services that interest you. Give some thought to whether a block is right for you, and if it is, contact your phone company and ask for it.

For more, read Mystery Charges on Your Phone Bill.

Tagged with: billing error, mobile, phone, scam
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

when I got internet service from veri 11 months ago they billed me one month in advance. Now that i want to cancel early, they say that i will have to dispute the charge. Good thing i kept my bills.

Thanks for the info

I had a problem with Wal Mart Family Mobile a while back, a $22 charge was added to my bill after it had been disconnected, the customer service person told me that I had failed to report the change of providers. I tried to get it reversed but they are impossible to deal with. I ended up paying for it but I think it was an illegal charge, I hope you can look into that company's records, it's run by T-Mobile. They stink.

To file a formal complaint about this problem, please go to ftc.gov/complaint. Thanks!

Also, don't open any text from someone you are not familiar with. Crammers are sending them out, and when you open them, they put the charge on your phone bill automatically. Program known numbers/people into your phone, and if you get an unfamiliar text, delete the thread without opening it. This will avoid the hassle of disputing the charge with your phone company. It's also a good idea not to answer unknown phone numbers. If it's important, they can leave a voicemail. If they don't, then it must not have been important. If they leave a voicemail, check it and then decide if you should return the call. Type the number into a search engine (i.e. Google, and see what comes up. If it's a harrassing phone call or telemarketer, it will show up, as others have posted the info about the caller before they called you. It will save you a headache later.

How is it that Credit Card Services of America can continually call me from numbers that are no longer in service. I have repeatedly reported them. These people need to be put out of service permanently. They have called on my cell phone and that uses my minutes. I have politely and not so politely requested that they not call again. I do not qualify.

I received a call from someone who claimed to be with Verizon and to simply be notifying me of a change Verizon was making to my long distance service. He said he was calling from a Verizon Service Center in Florida. He even connected me with someone who claimed to be from the FTC to confirm everything. I got suspicious and called Verizon directly, and the lady I spoke to said Verizon already had a long distance service. She said Verizon had not called me that day, and she suspected there was a scam that was trying to "slam" my account - get me to pay extra. She put a freeze on my account to keep that from happening. The company identified itself as "Online Service" and gave me the number 18003457556.

I go thru situation with Verizon since august 2013. They are charging me $512.00 for over data usage that I never used. I called them many times an explained that I was not responsible for the charges and asked them for full credit. On October 3, 2013, Verizon found out that the device had a problem "Ip address was not connecting to Microsoft" and they agreed to give me full credit on the account, they also told me that it would take a few billing cycle for the credit to show on the bill. But, the credit was never issued. Last time I spoke with customer service person 2,26,14, I was told I was told that they are NOT issuing a credit because the problem with the device is not their fault. I ended up switching to another wireless company… Now my biggest concern is that this is going to affect my credit. I am very frustrated and feel helpless. Thank you much for any help you can provide.

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