Why You Might Already be a Victim Of Cell Phone Cramming

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Does your phone bill seem to fluctuate from month to month even though you are on an unlimited minutes plan and haven’t gone over on your data usage? Are you getting strange texts saying that you have been “subscribed” to services that you know you never subscribed to? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you might already be be a victim of a “cramming” scams and  not even know it.

What is Cramming?

Not to be confused with the type of cramming where you try to prepare for a test 5 minutes before it starts, this kind of cramming is a form of fraud where small charges are added, typically to your cell phone bill by a third party, without your consent and without being disclosed beforehand.

How do I Find Out If I’m a Victim of Cramming?

Does Your Phone Bill Fluctuate?

If your phone bill seems to be going up despite you being on an “everything” plan and not going over your data allowance, this could be a sign that cramming may be occurring. It may be time to take a hard look at your bill

Go Over Your Phone Bill With a Fine-toothed Comb:

You need to sit down and really take a hard look at your phone bill. Look for anything that looks suspicious, especially anything that looks like it is associated with a third-party company that is not your phone company. Cramming is usually the work of third-parties.

According to the FCC’s website on Cramming: “Cramming comes in many forms, Charges may be legitimate if authorized, but if unauthorized, are cramming”

Some cramming may be hard to spot, especially if it masquerades as something legitimate. Look for generic terms such as “service fee”, “service charge” “other fees", “voicemail”, mail server, “calling plan”, and “membership”.

Compare these charges over time. Was it on the last bill from last month? Was it on the bill from last year? If not, find out when it appeared and call your phone provider to question its legitimacy.  

You should also be on the lookout for charges added to your monthly bill that don’t have a clear explanation such as ones that say “monthly fee” or “minimum monthly usage fee”, the FCC site states that these might be indications of cramming activity.

Beware of Premium SMS Message Services:

Premium SMS services, unless you authorized them, are one of the main types of cramming that you are likely to encounter. These “services” are usually associated with some kind of content such as horoscopes, sports scores, joke of the day, etc. They provide some sort of content via SMS, but the value of the content is usually not worth the $10 or more that they add to your phone bill for the privilege.

It is not uncommon to have been mysteriously signed up for these services without your consent or knowledge. If you start getting texts associated with these and did not sign up for them, call your phone company immediately and tell them that you did not authorize the charges and demand that they be removed.

Some companies, such as Verizon Wireless, will allow you to turn on a block to block all Premium SMS messages, so that you won’t have to worry about ever being subscribed without your authorization. I recommend turning this feature on for your own protection so that you won’t have to deal with these types of Premium SMS scams.

What do I do if I Suspect Cramming?

Call your phone company, question the charges, have them explain what they are for. If they aren’t legitimate, ask them to have them removed. Ask for your money back if you’ve been crammed. Many providers are offering to give money back to victims of unauthorized cramming.

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