The next time you receive your cell phone bill, you may want to take a closer look at it. That’s because your bill may have some unauthorized charges and hidden fees.
This isn’t just a hypothetical scenario. The practice of putting unauthorized charges hidden in your cell phone bill is called “cramming”, and according to the FCC it affects 20 million US residents a year. And what’s worse is that only 1 in 20 people notice these charges.
Several mobile phone providers, along with 3dr party companies, have been found guilty of putting in these hidden fees. On October 2014, AT&T Mobility LLC agreed to settle charges and the settlement amounted to $105 million. T-Mobile settled for $90 million a few months later on December 2014.
The first thing you need to remember is that you shouldn’t enter your cell phone numbers in unsecured websites. Your cell phone number is like a credit card these days. Goods and service providers can place charges on your cell phone bills, unless your carrier automatically blocks 3rd-party charges. Other people may also use your number to fraudulently buy items online.
Next, you should keep a clear record of all the authorized services you used. And finally, read the fine print before you sign a contract with a carrier, because they may have actually indicated there that other fees may apply.
How to Check Your Cell Phone Bill
Be on the lookout and check every detail of your cell phone bill. First you’ll need to check if there are company names you don’t recognize or premium 1-900 calls you didn’t make. These products and services are often premium text messages about sports scores or horoscopes, or items like cell phone wallpapers and ringtones.
You’ll need to be on the lookout for services that are explained in generic terms, like “other fees”, “service charge”, or “service fee”. Then you also need to look for monthly charges without a clear explanation of what they are, such as “minimum usage fee” or monthly fee”.
What you need to keep in mind is that everything on your bill needs to have a clear explanation of what they are for. The charges must match what you expected, and everything else is suspect.
What To Do When You Find Hidden Fees
If you find a 3rd party charge on your bill, contact your carrier to verify that these charges really came from the 3rd party companies. Then you can contact the company and ask for a refund if you didn’t ask for the service or goods they supposedly delivered. If they deny your request for a refund, call the FCC to complain at 1-888-CALL-FCC or at 1-888-TELL-FCC. You can also file a complaint online.
You can also call that FCC number if it’s your cell phone company that is charging you incorrectly. Call your carrier, explain your concerns about the charges, ask them to explain the charges, and have them remove the incorrect charges. If that doesn’t work you can call the FCC.