How to make sure you aren't a victim of 'cramming' -


How to make sure you aren't a victim of 'cramming'

"Cramming" is when someone hijacks your phone bill, arranges a third-party service like e-mail or Internet, then bills it to you.

As long as there are land-line phone numbers, there will be cramming. There's a little bit of cramming on cell phone bills, too, however limited.

In 2009, Andy assisted a Collierville, TN, family whose 93-year-old mother's phone bill was crammed with two months worth of charges for e-mail and Internet.

The woman didn't own a computer or even know how to turn one on, much less know how to surf the web or compose an e-mail.

Andy tracked down the culprit and erased the charges, but her cramming situation highlighted how a lot of service providers, including AT&T, fail to protect their customers from "crammers" because they enable third-party billing services.

John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League (, offered consumer resource Bottom Line Personal magazine these keys to cramming self-defense:

* GET AN UNLISTED PHONE NUMBER. In my experience, crammers target senior citizens first because they still insist on listing their phone numbers. Pay the extra fee to hide your phone number or the number of an elderly loved one.

* REQUEST A THIRD-PARTY BLOCK ON YOUR PHONE NUMBER. For a fee, or sometimes for free, your service provider can block third-parties from accessing your account.

* LOOK FOR CRAMMING CLUES ON YOUR PHONE BILL. Phrases like "service charge," "other fees," "calling plan" or "membership" may reveal cramming charges.



If you discover your phone bill has been crammed, contact your service provider immediately and demand it erase the charges. If your provider is uncooperative, contact your state's telecommunications agency.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Friday, July 25 2014 8:49 AM EDT2014-07-25 12:49:07 GMT
    Fugitive Fridays tracks down Central Virginia's most wanted. Take a look at the photos and see if you can help police track down these suspects.
    Fugitive Friday helps track down Central Virginia's Most Wanted.
  • Physicians warn against giving melatonin to children

    Physicians warn against giving melatonin to children

    Parents desperate to get their troubled sleepers to bed are turning to synthetic melatonin, which is a supplement sold over the counter. But expert warn it could have adverse effects on child development.
    Many adults turn to sleep aids like melatonin, but now more parents are giving them to their kids, too. We talked to physicians to see what they had to say about how it could affect your child's development.
  • Six deadly foods for dogs

    Six deadly foods for dogs

    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. One woman found that out the hard way when her dog ate a bunch of grapes! Turns out, that's one of the most dangerous foods
    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. But these common snacks could be fatal for Fido.
Powered by WorldNow