How to Beat a Mobile Cramming Scam
Have you checked your mobile phone bill lately? See any charges for random text messages you get? Not reading your statement with an eye out for fraudulent charges crammed onto your bill can be a costly mistake.
A recent case settled by the FTC claimed that Tatto Inc., a company that creates and sends celebrity gossip, trivia, and horoscope text messages to phones, crammed a $9.99 monthly “Premium Text Messaging Services” subscription charge onto people’s phone bills without their knowledge or consent. Although many people ignored the text messages as spam, the charge still was on their bill. Worse yet, when they detected the charges and reported them to their phone carrier, or directly to Tatto, Inc., many customers couldn’t get adequate refunds for the months of fraudulent charges they hadn’t noticed.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s how to detect and avoid cramming charges on your mobile bill:
- Check your phone bill each month. It’s easy to ignore a billing statement after you’ve set up automated online payments. But taking time to read your statement online or the bill in the mail will help you detect fraudulent charges, and save you money.
- Treat websites that ask for your mobile phone number with caution. Phony websites advertising free prizes (think Justin Bieber tickets) in exchange for your mobile phone number, or other personal information, could be setting you up for a cram.
- Consider a block on third-party charges. Many phone carriers offer third-party blocking service for free.
- Know your mobile phone carrier’s policy on refunds for fraudulent charges. Some carriers have a 60-day period for refund requests. Even if you’ve detected a years’ worth of fraudulent charges, the phone carrier may offer to refund only a part of it.
If you suspect you’ve been a victim of cramming, contact your phone carrier first about the charges, and file a complaint with the FTC.