Review Your Mobile Phone Bill

by Barbara Nevins Taylor

Have you reviewed your mobile phone bill lately?  If you haven’t checked, you may be sorry.

It comes as a rude surprise to many of us, but sometimes mystery charges lurk, in tiny print, at the bottom of the list of legitimate fees.

Many of us end up paying for so-called “premium” services that we didn’t order and don’t want.  

A new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report highlights the widespread practice of “cramming.”  

That’s what they call it when a company other than your provider adds charges to your bill. It happened to me.  

For months I found a $9.99 charge for a horoscope service that I didn’t order, didn’t want and never used.  It took months and repeated calls to my phone company, which had nothing to do with the charges, to get them eliminated.

The FTC asked wireless companies to make sure that customers can block third party charges, clearly spell out how to do it, and tell people how to get reimbursed. Most of the complaints filed with FTC involve charges, like mine, of under $10 for trivia, or horoscopes that are delivered via text messages.

But the game goes on, and that’s why the agency says it will host a roundtable on May 8, 2013, in Washington, D.C., to try to develop strategies to fight cramming.

In the meantime, until there’s a law, or regulation requiring some kind of cramming protection, it’s up to all of us to check mobile phone bills to make sure we’re not getting ripped off.

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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.