Phone Cramming
This Is A New One!

Phone cramming amounts to charges in your phone bill that are phony. Fight back! Here’s how...

Phone cramming, bogus charges on your phone bill.
  • Carol, a friend of mine, was astounded to see false charges of $40.00 on her AT&T phone bill for answering services and music downloading that Carol knew she hadn’t made.
  • Carol called AT&T and repeated what happened and that she had never ordered any such thing.
  • AT&T informed Carol to contact Enhanced Services Billing Inc. (ESBI), the company that posted the charge. The problem was, ESBI, refused to cancel the bogus charges.
  • The next month, Carol noticed the same $40.00 charge appeared on her phone bill again.

It was mandated in the 1984 breakup of Ma Bell, that third party billing was supposed to minimize the number of local, long distance, 900 number phone bills – ending up in your mailbox.

  • Years later, everything from charitable contributions, ring tones, and online gambling debts can show up on your bill. These are funneled through clearinghouses such as ESBI.
  • Unfortunately, your phone number has now become a charge account, but absent is the security of a PIN, password, or signature that you have with your credit or debit card.
  • Cramming of your phone is the definition of bogus charges that stuff a phone bill. ESBI’s parent BSG has been sued twice for this practice. They have paid a $1.9 million dollar settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2008.
  • Cramming investigations for the FTC have been helped and directed by Lois Greisman. She still isn’t assured concerning ESBI’s good intentions.

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  • Lois states she has seen many questionable practices by billing aggregators and dirty vendors including ESBI.
  • That is why they have been ordered to cease phone cramming. Carol was finally able to have her recurrent $40.00 monthly charge erased after going to the FTC.

It’s amazing that the average person that becomes a victim of cramming cannot count on AT&T’s help.

  • Recently, the company decided to require audits of billing practices to be done by independent companies.

Unfortunately, it has no plans to verify transactions by third-parties that appear on its bills, and probably won’t unless forced.

  • Hopefully, this will happen. As of last fall the FTC recommended five policy changes that could have gotten rid of cramming.

Among them, a requirement that phone companies address consumer cramming complaints.

Your best protection against cramming, until such regulations are approved is to request a “third-party block” (see cramming tips below).

If you are a victim of phone cramming, be sure you file a complaint with the FTC.

Go to ftccomplaintassistant.gov of call 877-382-4357.


How To Stop Cramming

The only known way to prevent these unauthorized third-party charges on your phone bill is to tell your carrier to block them all.

Here are some numbers I hope will help.

  • Qwest: 800-491-0118
  • Comcast: 800-266-2278
  • AT&T: 800-288-2747
  • Verizon: 800-837-4966

Protect yourself from cramming and be knowledgeable about all the different identity theft scams that are out there waiting to make you the next victim.




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