Scammers Targeting Your Phone Bill

Scammers are hard at work targeting your wallet. And, you may be sending them your hard-earned cash every time you pay your phone bill.

The practice is called cramming. Essentially, a scammer adds charges to your phone bill for services you never ordered or approved. It's not a new problem, but, according to the Federal Communications Commission, it's a growing one.

Monica Horton, President of the Better Business Bureau of North Central Texas, said the problem is a common one here in Texoma. Her office receives regular complaints from Texoma consumers about the practice.

Horton said the best way to protect yourself is to scrutinize your phone bill with a fine tooth comb. If you feel there are charges on there you didn't authorize, Horton recommends calling your phone carrier first. Then report the problem to the BBB, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

Common scams include free services, such as ring tone downloads or informational text messages, and phoney lotteries. But, even your actual phone carrier may be charging you unfairly. AT&T and Verizon Wireless both refunded money to thousands of customers because of misleading or improper charges on phone bills.

The charges can take the form of a one-time enrollment fee or a service membership that bills monthly. And the charges can be as small as a few dollars, even just pennies, which can often go unnoticed for months.

Horton also recommended never giving your phone number out to anyone you don't know. In some cases all it takes is your name and phone number for a third party to bill you via your actual carrier.

According to the Texas Attorney General's Web site, under Texas law, customers do not have to pay for charges they did not authorize

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel 6