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How to protect yourself from smartphone bill cramming

Brian S Hall | July 21, 2014
You might not be familiar with the term "cramming." But if you're not careful, it could be costing you money on your mobile phone bill each month.

If you receive a call from an unrecognized area code, don't call back. Type the code into your search engine of choice. You may discover a fraud alert notice. If the area code is from outside the US and you don't know anyone there, it could very well be a cramming attempt.

Other preventative measures you can take, include:

  • Asking your carrier to block all third-party services for all the phones in your service plan;
  • Avoiding the use of your mobile phone number when entering various contests or sweepstakes since the fine print may state that you have agreed to a monthly subscription service;
  • Using your credit card instead of carrier billing when shopping by phone, as credit cards provide additional consumer protections;
  • Not entering your phone number into unsecured websites, as this can be used as a sign-up proxy for a costly, unwanted services
  • Not accepting collect calls unless you absolutely know the person and number; and
  • Not responding to unsolicited text messages from unknown senders.

The CTIA contends that fraudsters responsible for cramming also victimize wireless carriers, noting that some content providers go to extreme lengths to deliberately circumvent mobile industry guidelines. That may not help you, but the fact is, your phone company can't always know what services you have expressly signed up for. Bottom-line: you are your first line of defense. Vigilance and common sense go a long way.


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