I got a surprise when I opened my phone bill last night. A company I'd never heard of added a charge of $8.43 for unspecified services. I looked them up online and in sorting through the pages of complaints found that they had been sanctioned by the FCC for cramming back in 2001. For the unfamiliar (rather like me before last night), cramming is the practice of adding fraudulent charges to your monthly phone bill. Apparently, only your name and phone number are needed for a company to get a charge added to your account.
The idea that anyone can add a charge to my phone bill without my consent is disturbing. Even more disturbing was being told that I needed to contact the company in question to get the charges removed. Something is fundamentally wrong with a system that requires you to persuade the criminal who is trying to rip you off to please stop doing it. Unbelievable.
Thankfully, things worked out well. The company in question was willing to remove the charges when asked. My assumption is that they would rather I not pursue the matter further while they keep raking in $8.43/month from people who don't pay close attention to their bills. Bad call on their part. I'll be writing both the FCC and the Indiana Attorney General to voice my displeasure at a system that allows such easy access to my account and that requires me to negotiate with con artists to resolve the situation.
Check your phone bills carefully! The charges may be small, but they can add up if they go unnoticed. Plus, in the words of my father, it's the principle of the thing.
Photo by Holler.Ellgaard.