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:
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.