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I've Been CRAMMED*!  (*UNAUTHORIZED CHARGES PUT ON YOUR CELL BILL).

And you may have been, unless you check your phone bill carefully and then take action.

This is an ALERT to the Community to check Your Cell Phone Bill CAREFULLY.

THESE ARE THE STEPS TO TAKE if you have.

This morning I paid my bills; always a happy experience. :-(

When I opened my ATT Wireless Bill, a surprise was in store for me.  I was being charged $10+ dollars/mo for a subscription to a horoscope service.  Hello?  I didn't know that was in my stars but I knew for certain that I hadn't ordered it.

I called ATT and this is the upshot of nearly 1 hour on the friggin phone.

First Off, I was so p/o'd at having to waste this much time and enraged that they were trying to steal from me, I said I wanted to discontinue my service.  When they asked 'why' I said because they had fraudulently charged me for a service I did not order and if they were going to do that I didn't want to have anything to do with them anymore.  This is what followed.

1)  ATT told me that they had received A LOT OF CALLS from customers who are complaining about unauthorized "3rd Party Added Services".  This is called CRAMMING.  ATT says that this happens when a message is sent to you and somehow you click it.  (Guess what, I never clicked any friggin spam messages!)  I responded that it was their responsibility to keep my account safe.

2) Representative (who was very nice, btw - wasn't her doing...) said that she would put a free "purchase locker" on my account so that no UNauthorized charges could go on.  (I thought that would be assumed!)

I also complained about the huge amount of spam messages I was receiving on my cell phone, including solicitations from ATT.  She said:

3)  She would check my account with "no member solicitations from ATT" so I would not be getting their junkmessages from now on.

4)  Said to place a 'do not call' on my cellphone:

Go to:  "donotcall.gove" and register phone number (s) with email addresses.  I think that you also can register various email addresses.

GRRRRR!  I am plenty mad.  As I research this, this 'CRAMMING' fraud has been going on for awhile now and legislators are trying to get it stopped.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT ATT DOESN'T PROTECT MY PRIVATE INFORMATION AND MY ACCOUNT.  I am going to call them up and demand a line, by line, explanation of every penny they charge me and if enough of us do that, then perhaps they might come to the 'business' decision that the cost of the time of their employees does not balance the money they are trying to scam!  Join me in this.

Read below the fluffy toasted croissant, to find out more about CRAMMING, what it is, what is being done about it and what you can do.

The next time you get your phone bill, check the total amount due. If it's a little higher than usual, you may have fallen prey to an identity theft scam known as "cramming," in which unauthorized fees are charged to a customer's land line or cell phone account. The crammer gets away with it because the fees are usually too small to notice.

Those small charges can add up: Cramming costs Americans as much as $2 million a year, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Crammers ply their trade through third-party billing. Carriers, including AT&T and Verizon Communications, allow users to charge third-party services to their phone bills, and they receive more than $1 billion a year to do so by third-party providers.

READ more on how to Avoid getting 'crammed'

A few days ago,  Senator Chuck Schumer Called for the FCC to put an end to Cell Phone Cramming

Have you ever received a cryptic text message from an undisclosed number? It's possible you were being targeted by a phone-cramming scammer.

On Monday, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) called for the government to put a stop to this fraud, which uses text messaging to steal money from unsuspecting consumers.

This is the

THIS IS THE FCC GUIDE ON CRAMMING; WHAT IT IS AND WHAT TO DO

Just BEWARE AND CHECK ALL YOUR BILLS.

Poll

Have you been CRAMMED (had fraudulent charges on your cell?)

21%14 votes
10%7 votes
10%7 votes
41%27 votes
15%10 votes

| 65 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the diary (14+ / 0-)

    I have had a few weird e-mails/texts.  Checking my bill right now.  Bastards...

    My Brothers Keeper

    by Reetz on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:14:25 AM PDT

  •  i haven't been crammed (12+ / 0-)

    but, despite the fact the i'm on the no call list, i receive about 3 or 4 solicitation calls every day.  it's gotten to the point where i no longer answer the call if it's a number i don't recognize coming through.

    i used to take the calls and then tell the operator on the other end that they shouldn't be calling me because i'm on the do not call list but that ended up being a waste of time since the calls never stopped.

    now i just press the ignore button when i see them come through.  if figure if it's something important, they'll leave me a message.

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:22:45 AM PDT

    •  they're like a pack of starving wolves (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alguien, Puddytat, jayden, Creosote

      trying to attack you stealthily in your homes.........  UGH

      I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

      by SeaTurtle on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:26:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i think i'd put my trust in wolves (6+ / 0-)

        before i put my trust in communications companies.

        hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

        by alguien on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:34:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Starving? Hardly. Rabid, more likely. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SeaTurtle, Puddytat, alguien

        I thought I heard a boy cry, "Wolf!"

        by socalmonk on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:45:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  no, not bastards. bastardized architecture. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Creosote

        You want a device that lets you read and write email and make phone calls on a touch-active little 4" screen connected to your bank account?  

        Then what you're going to get is spam email with hidden "YES" buttons that siphon your money.

        QED.

        Don't be surprised.

        It's like someone trying to transport a few tons of fresh fish in a concrete truck, and being surprised when what comes out when they unload is a pile of fish-mush.

        Bottom line: bad combinations of technology produce bad outcomes.  Oh, and it spies on you too.  That used to be called an "electronic bug."  Now it's called a "feature."  So you're not being "bugged," you're being "featured".  Nice, huh?

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 06:37:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I get unsolicited spam text messages. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SeaTurtle, txcatlin, KenBee, Creosote

      I NEVER click them on my phone.

      I often add the number to a name (SPAM) and then try to block the number.

      #occupywallstreet: Although I know the rhythm you'd prefer me dancing to, I'll turn my revolt into style.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 01:18:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I tell the person on the other end (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, Creosote

      About the Vermont law that makes every future call cost them money:

      What can I do if I continue to get unwanted calls?

      Telemarketing calls made to a number which has been listed on the federal registry for three months, or which are on a company’s “Do Not Call” list, violate Vermont law. If you get a call from a telemarketer that violates Vermont law, you have the right to sue the telemarketer for actual damages or $500 for a first violation ($1,000 for each subsequent violation), whichever is greater.

      Amazingly, the calls stop.

      Cramming is illegal in Vermont:

      Attorney General Sorrell’s office has been conducting a widespread investigation into cramming by out-of-state companies. “For too long, Vermonters have been charged for things they did not ask for and did not use, through charges on their local phone bills that they were not aware of,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “Vermont’s new legislation will put an end to that,” he added.

      The new law is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. It provides for a general prohibition on third-party billing, with the following limited exceptions:

          billing for goods or services marketed or sold by a company subject to the jurisdiction of the Vermont Public Service Board (including, for example, a local telephone company that itself markets combined phone, television and internet service);

          billing for direct dial or dial-around services initiated from the consumer’s telephone; and

          operator-assisted telephone calls, collect calls, and telephone services that facilitate communication to or from correctional center inmates.

  •  $2 billion per year and THANKS! (11+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the read and the good steer to donotcall.gov  That was terrific.

    And the cost to consumers is $2 billion per year.
    http://www.pcworld.com/...

    Here's another resource
    http://www.fcc.gov/...

    The shared subtle essence of human consciousness and the unity of natural law: two sides, one coin.

    by greenkrete on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:23:42 AM PDT

    •  you're welcome and thanks for the links... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, txcatlin, KenBee

      have the FCC one up there, but hey,
      never hurts to repeat it :-)

      I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

      by SeaTurtle on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:26:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  On a desktop computer (0+ / 0-)

      I forward suspect emails to spam@uce.gov -- just checked and that email is still OK. I never open these mails, just forward them. For email, whoever "uce" is needs to see the full coding in the header. I do add a standard message asking them to "shut down the source of this fraudulent email."

  •  Also (11+ / 0-)

    A lot of so called free stuff on the net ...

    If they ask for a cell number, read the fine print.  It is an agreement that YOU agree to, with a usual charge of $9.95 a minute

    Seen it for horoscopes, ring tones,those wanna be cute match services, and other fluff.

    Either the author if this diary unknowingly did agree to this (I have had TONS of arguements with my wife about to NEVER enter my cell number on ANYTHING on the net)

    OR, someone said, I want this info and put the authors cell number in (as a random number or a big FU to the author on purpose)

    The problem is that you can enter just about any cell number to sign anyone up and there is no verification.  Companies like this as they can just charge unkowing people and as such have no reason to ensure a proper verification that a person actuall DID agree to these services

    •  Its the wild, wild west out there (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc, Puddytat, Creosote

      and they are the only ones with the bullets and guns.

      I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

      by SeaTurtle on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:31:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radical simplicity

      When I braced Verizon about getting crammed, they would not tell me what kind of verification they required from the crammer before charging me. Verizon is in on it, makes $$ from cramming, so they conspire to  let their customers get screwed.

      •  When I had a problem ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radical simplicity

        Apparently I had taken one of those IQ or personality tests and entered my number to the results.  Wrong move since it signed me up for Hollywood gossip or some such thing resulting in a $9.99 reurring charge.

        Verison customer service was nice about it, took the charges off my bill, and discontinued the "contract" that charged me every month and gave me a lecture about giving out my phone number. Maybe they could see that I was a ditzy grandmotherly type and felt sorry for me ... over the phone, even!

  •  Too funny...not that AT&T tried to screw you, but (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, ER Doc, trumpeter, txcatlin

    the idea that AT&T would protect your account...the NSA now knows that you are not only a democrat, probably a liberal, but that you are a complainer.

    I thought I heard a boy cry, "Wolf!"

    by socalmonk on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:31:28 AM PDT

  •  I got away from ATT long ago. (7+ / 0-)

    They are thieves in a shirt and tie.

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:34:11 AM PDT

  •  donotcall.gov (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, cany, vigilant meerkat

    Lately I have been getting a lot of spam texts, even though my phone is registered on donotcall. I don't understand why this would be. Did they tell you if you should not get junk texts if it's on donotcall?

    •  they did, but I will believe it when I see it.. (2+ / 0-)

      I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

      by SeaTurtle on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:51:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The carrier doesn't enforce Do Not Call (5+ / 0-)

      The idea is that commercial enterprises are supposed to consult the list before calling you. If an outfit routinely violates DNC, they can be fined by the feds - but only if enough people complain. The problem is that there are a lot of fly-by-night outfits out there that never stay in one place long enough to be tracked down. Combine that with Caller ID Spoofing, and DNC is becoming progressively less effective.

      For the text messages, check with your carrier: Many of them now have a facility where you can forward spam tests to 7726 (SPAM), and they will be added to the spam corpus used to identify spam messages.

  •  Comment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, txcatlin

    This only happened once to me on Verizon.

    Somebody signed up my wife's phone for some kind of stupid $10/month news text.  After I saw it on the bill, the Verizon rep -- obviously practiced as a lot of Verizon customers were hit with the same thing -- dutifully knocked off the charges and blocked further billing.  Verizon's official take was that they'd been scammed, too.  I suspect they didn't mind the commissions from this stuff and didn't do anything until people started complaining, but I do have to say that it got fixed.  I'm not a fan of Verizon the corporation, but I have little to complain about regarding my smartphone service, other than the lack of good international coverage -- and of course the data limits.

  •  Happened to me with Verizon (7+ / 0-)

    Didn't know there was a word for it, but a $9.99 charge for "team trivia games"  hit my 16 year old's phone.

    He obviously doesn't spend a lot of time in bars; his idea of a good time is basketball. And yes, I had to get angry and use The Mean Voice to get the charges removed.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 11:52:54 AM PDT

  •  T-Mobile (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, jayden, KenBee, Creosote

    I had the same experience last month with T-Mobile for supposed downloading of ring tones. I had to fight with them. I told their overseas rep (I could tell by the accent) in no uncertain terms I was paying for only the legitimate charges and they were to get that $10.00 off my bill now and block all 3rd party charge attempts from my phone.

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 12:03:52 PM PDT

  •  That's why I'll never go back to AT&T (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, trumpeter, jayden

    They gave me the runaround for half an hour, all the while snottily insisting that if the charge appeared on my bill, I MUSTVE signed up for it.

    I don't think so.

    I discontinued them went to a VoIP service, and have never looked back.

    "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

    by Whimsical on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 12:16:56 PM PDT

  •  I have a solution for your problem (6+ / 0-)

    Buy a smartphone that isn't tied to a carrier (also known as a jailbroke phone). Get the month to month plan from T-Mobile (I pay $50 a month for unlimited texting, phone calls, and data **YMMV) with NO 2 YEAR contract along with a sim card for your smartphone.

    The beauty of it? No hidden charges, no long term contracts.

    The only problem some folks might have is that they have to pay for the phone. Let me tell you something ATT and the other carriers make their money from hooking you in with their "free" offer. Over the same 2 year  period you'd save money by purchasing your phone up front.

    When I cannot sing my heart. I can only speak my mind.

    by Unbozo on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 12:20:17 PM PDT

    •  Actually, that really depends. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      I got two brand new Samsung Galaxy S II's with my carrier's (also T-Mobile) Valentine's Day sale this year.  I was 22 months into my old contract, meaning I was eligible for a discounted upgrade, and I signed my partner up, too.

      With no two-year contract, regardless of carrier, the Galaxy S II is about $550-$600; with a two-year contract, they were $249.99 (at the time).  Just Monday, I cashed the two $250 Valentine's Day sale mail-in rebate cards with my bank, essentially making both phones free (aside from taxes and activation fees).

      Even though I'm paying more monthly than I would with a "jailbroken" phone, I'm actually ahead because the phones were discounted $1,100 (about $550 each).  I sat down and did the math last week, and, even without the discount, I'd be $80 ahead choosing the "free phone" plan ("Classic") over the "no free phone" ("Value") plan, for the same phones and same services.  Due to the V-Day sale, I'm actually ahead $539.98.

      •  I bought a Samsung Infuse for around 380 or so (0+ / 0-)

        through amazon. I like the idea that if I decide I don't like T-mobile that I can switch to AT&T.

        I have a very tight budget so being tied up with a 2 year contract is impractical for me. Most of the data that I download is from my wifi network, so the data plan for the 50 dollar month to month works fine for me. If I end up where I can't afford the 50 a month I can just stop and later get another sim for the phone when I'm more flush.

        Like I said YMMV. Everyone has different circumstances.

        When I cannot sing my heart. I can only speak my mind.

        by Unbozo on Sat Apr 07, 2012 at 01:00:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Happens on landlines, too (7+ / 0-)

    Check for long distance calls.  I notice if I have any and call right away (I took the long distance service off my home phone years ago because of those outrageous quarterly fees for being connected to the ability to make a long distance call).

    Most people don't notice, but one time they had the nerve to try to charge me for 4 long distance calls.  The Customer Service Rep kept wanting to "review" all those numbers with me "just in case you made them and don't remember".  I kept telling her that it is impossible for me to make a long distance, non 800 # from my home phone - I get a whisle and warning that I'm not connected to the long distance lines.  Even after she verified this, she still wanted to review each call "in case" I made them.  Grrrrrrrrr.

    I don't believe these are "mistakes" because the mistakes are never in favor of the customer and always in favor of the business.  Just like "bank errors".

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 12:25:55 PM PDT

    •  Um... Wow. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, Puddytat

      Quarterly fees?  Huh?

      Years ago, most carriers switched to offering unlimited long distance, primarily because most cell carriers offer it, pushing land-line carriers to do the same.  AT&T's "U-Verse" is $35/mo for local AND unlimited long distance, for example.  I used to pay $30/month just for local.

    •  Hit my landline a couple years ago (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Creosote, Puddytat, SeaTurtle

      I was crammed for some kind of credit card protection - they said I signed up for it New Years Day, so that was pretty easy to refute.  Wrote to my Congressperson's office and they were not interested at all.  And everyone I talked to took the time to explain to me how legal and everything third party billing is.  And at that time, Verizon made me do the legwork with the crooks (who did back down without much fuss.)  Glad to hear Shumer is taking this on.  

  •  I spent 3+ hours on the phone with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, jayden

    AT&T disputing a bill which I had paid a few months before.  How a Communications Company can keep a customer on hold for 3 hours for a $50 bill I'll never know.  I DO know I won't be using them anytime soon.  btw I had paid the bill and provided proof.  After they sent my bill to collections and I started getting those annoying phone calls from the collections people I had to go back and provide the proof one more time.  Knock on wood they finally got it straightened out on their end.

  •  They really should discount the bill (5+ / 0-)

    ..for the amount of time you had to spend contesting it.

    The only left the Democrats have given us is the last couple of decades is a Southpaw President

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 12:38:13 PM PDT

  •  donotcall.gov doesn't really work for cell phones (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden

    It has been illegal for most solictors to call cell phones for many years.

    http://www.snopes.com/...

    The do not call list isn't going to stop them.

  •  The reason I never bought an iPhone (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote

    ... even though I'm a Mac guy, is that I refused to give AT&T my mobile business. So I went with T-Mobile for five years, until just the threat that AT&T might buy them sent me fleeing last year.

    Of course, it turned out that deal got stopped eventually. But it was a blessing for me anyway, because I came back to the progressive phone company, CREDO.

    I've always had CREDO/Working Assets for long distance on my landline, but when I tried their mobile service back in the early 00s it didn't work out. The phone they sent me (there was only one choice in those days) was substandard, and I couldn't get reception in the building where I worked.

    I'm happy to say that CREDO mobile has worked out wonderfully this time around. I got a fabulous Android (EVO Shift) phone from them, and while the Sprint network (CREDO uses Sprint's towers) in all honesty isn't quite as good as T-Mobile's was, it's much better than it used to be and I haven't had any serious problems (dropped calls, etc.) with it.

    And best of all, my money isn't going to the Bush-enabling AT&T or Verizon or even the relatively neutral T-Mobile: It's going to an amazing outfit that raises millions of dollars for progressive causes each year. And they have much nicer customer service than those other companies, too.

  •  Havent been crammed, (0+ / 0-)

    but was getting lots of text msgs from all over.
    I put a stop to that, got rid of the text msg service.
    Told Verizon just a cell phone with 30 min per month. IE emergency usage only.

  •  Thanks for informing us this and how to stop (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, SeaTurtle

    unsolicited marketing calls SeaTurtle.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 08:27:13 PM PDT

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