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).
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 email@example.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?
- 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.
- Dispute it
Your statement should tell you how to dispute errors on your bill.
- 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.
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.
- 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.