What is "cramming"?
Chances are you don’t scrutinize every item on your phone bill each month. Crooks are counting on it. In the latest telephone scam - called cramming - extra services such as voice mail, personal 800 numbers or pagers are added or crammed, into your phone bill without your consent. Although some consumers have complained about charges as high as $80 a month, the fees are usually between $5 and $30 a month, which may not even be noticed by the consumer at first. Many of the companies go by misleading names such as "Enhanced Services"," Access Charges", or even "FTC".
To protect yourself, study your phone bill for new or unusual charges. Be on alert if you’re asked to enter an "activation code" when calling an unfamiliar 800 number and read all the fine print before filling out contest forms. Companies have used both tactics to get consumers to authorize charges.
Written by Sandra McKinnon and Cynthia E. Crawford, Ph.D., Family Financial Education Specialists, University of Missouri-Extension
Last update: Sunday, April 23, 2006