If anything, you should learn your mobile phone company isn’t your friend when it comes to looking out for your financial interests. You’re the one who has to make sure your bill is correct, and dispute anything on it you don’t understand or think has been put on without your authorization. If you aren’t proactive and scan your bill each month, you might be paying a lot more for your phone service than you should be.
T-Mobile strongly denied the FTC’s allegations and placed blame on the third-party vendors for the charges. The practice in question is when third-party vendors charge a customer for something they unknowingly signed up for, or listed through other fraudulent means. The fees are often for such services as horoscope information, celebrity gossip and other similar services. When this happens, it’s called “cramming” in mobile phone industry. Phone companies have a financial reason not to automatically take these charges off of customers’ bills since the mobile phone company can earn as much as 40% of the fee as their cut.
The question is, what can you do to prevent these charges on your own mobile phone bill? The FTC offers a variety of tips to avoid being scammed in this way.
- If you never use third-party services, see if your mobile phone company offers a third-party block service. Many do at no cost, and this will help ensure these charges don’t end up on your bill.
- Refrain from inputting your mobile phone number on any website that’s not secure.
- If you begin noticing unsolicited text messages coming to you on your phone, this could be a sign a service is billing you for something you never signed up for. Pay special attention to your next bill to make sure there are no new charges on it.
- Look for small fees ($9.99 is the most common, but any fee under $10 which is easy to miss or overlook). Any fee you see on your bill you don’t understand 100%, call your provider to inquire what that bill is for. Your carrier should be able to explain exactly what the charge is for and what company is making it. If it’s from a third-party company you never signed up for, immediately dispute the charge to get it removed.
- When scanning your bill, look for generic sounding fees along the lines of “use fee,” “member fee,” or “subscription fee.” On T-Mobile, the FTC complaint noted the charges were called “Usage Charges,” so be on the lookout for something similar.
- If you feel that you have been a victim of cramming, contact the FTC either online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
(Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart)