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View Full Version : Crammings scams - check your bill



RosieRed
03-07-2009, 03:56 PM
Hey everyone, just wanted to issue a friendly public service announcement to check your telephone bill for any cramming charges.

I just went through my bill (luckily) because I recently added new services, and there was a charge on there for $14.95 and I couldn't figure out what it was for. I called the phone company -- Cincinnati Bell -- and they said they had no idea what the charge was for, and that I should "call the phone number for the company listed by the charge." As in, it was a third-party charge, and I needed to call that company to have the charge removed from my phone bill. The charge came from Enhanced Services Billing Inc. and was listed as a "residential fee."

I called the company and they said I signed up for the service on the Internet. Obviously I did not. I got them to say they will credit my bill for the charge and that they will not charge me in the future, and I got the woman's name and a confirmation number for the cancellation.

Then I did some research and called Cincinnati Bell back, and told them that if another one of these charges ever appeared on my bill, I'm gone as a customer. The service rep told me that I can have a "miscellaneous charges block" put on my account that will block "charges like these" in the future. So know that that is an option, and also know that Cincinnati Bell and numerous other phone companies are completely complicit in allowing these charges to be placed on your phone bill. Obviously, if they wanted, Cincinnati Bell could block these charges from the start, but they don't. (I have read that they get a cut from these companies but I can't verify that.)

I'm debating filing a complaint with the public utilities commission about Cincinnati Bell, and a complaint with the FTC on this scam company, Enhanced Billing Services. They are not the only company that does this, fyi, just happened to be the one that billed me.

So just keep an eye out on your bill for any unknown charges. It's a good idea to check all your bills anyway, but I wanted to share this because I had never heard of "cramming" before today.

For those who also haven't heard of it: Cramming is a scam that places unauthorized charges on a consumer's local telephone bill by a 'third party' billing company. Cramming charges normally appear hidden on local phone bills and in very general terms, such as service fee, service charge or monthly fee. These or other unauthorized charges can be crammed onto a consumer's telephone bill without the consumer even knowing the companies involved in this fraud.

Also, this is from Cincinnati Bell's own web site:

Cramming
If your bill has charges on it for services you did not order, that is called cramming. Cramming is illegal. If these charges appear on your bill, call your local phone company and let them know you have been crammed. If the charges are from another company, they may also require you to call the cramming company to have them take you off their customer list. Otherwise, the charges may reappear on your next bill. If you are not satisfied after these calls, contact the PUCO call center.

oneupper
03-07-2009, 08:13 PM
Thanks for the tip, Rosie.

I think its absurd that one has to call the company that has ILLEGALLY billed you through the phone company to make a claim.
Furthermore, the "miscellanous charge block" should be the DEFAULT, instead of an option.

This sounds like something that should go to a public service congressional subcommittee (or whatever). If we could have a do not call list...certainly there should be a "do not bill" law.

/rant.

Oh if you google Enhanced Services Billing...a whole bunch of complaints and lawsuits come up. These guys are pros and have been at it for a while. They probably count on people not checking their bills.

RosieRed
03-07-2009, 10:24 PM
It's absurd. Enhanced Billing Services is only one of many companies that do this, and Cincinnati Bell is only one of the many phone companies that let it happen. The "block charges" absolutely should be the default, but of course it isn't.

I asked the woman at Enhanced Billing Services how she got my name/info, and she simply said "You signed up for the service online." She couldn't or wouldn't give me more information than that, so I don't even know how this happened. I'm a smart Internet user; I can't imagine what I would have clicked on that resulted in someone actually billing me for a service I've never heard of.

Sigh.

Ravenlord
03-07-2009, 10:36 PM
I'm debating filing a complaint with the public utilities commission about Cincinnati Bell...
i've done that twice in the last year, and my mom three times in the last 8 months.

RosieRed
03-08-2009, 12:54 AM
i've done that twice in the last year, and my mom three times in the last 8 months.

Over this issue, or over something else?

Yachtzee
03-08-2009, 11:32 AM
I'm amazed that this still goes on. This was a problem years ago with phone companies and resulted in local services putting a carrier block to prevent other phone companies from automatically changing your local service for you. It seems like every time they do something, companies find a way around it. I've noticed the Do Not Call list is becoming increasingly useless as companies now find "non-profits" to use to call you.

Ravenlord
03-09-2009, 01:51 AM
Over this issue, or over something else?

my mom's first one was over the same issue. mine were both over them charging me for my old phone which had been disconnected for nearly 5 months when it came up.