Imagine this: you receive your monthly telephone bill, and there are some minimal charges for a cheap web hosting service. Only, you don't use cheap web hosting of any kind, and you don't have a website. You also happen to be a senior citizen.
The practice is called ‘cramming,' and its been a widely used practice throughout the United States for many years. The U.S. Senate has finally put a stop to the practice, but many Americans have already been milked out of thousands of dollars.
How Cramming Works
In this particular investigation, three well-known telephone companies have been found guilty. Those companies are AT&T, Verizon, and Century Link /Quest. What happens is this: telephone company customers are sold miscellaneous services through a telephone bill (services like cheap hosting). These services are then agree to by unknowing customers who think they are filling out a survey or entering a sweepstakes. But, it actually gets worse.
Some third-party cheap hosting (and many other) companies began enrolling deceased people in programs. What happens to the bill when someone is no longer living? It gets passed to a living spouse that feels obliged to pay the “remainder” balance of a service that the deceased person allegedly signed up for. Does this make you sick? It should. It's also why the Senate is pushing for a law against cramming, and making it really tough for telephone companies to continue the practice.
Cramming Has Been Around for Years
Here's the amazing thing: telephone cramming has been around since 1995. It took 18 years (!) for the practice of cramming to stop. Further, most people have no idea that they've been charged for these unwanted services, since most people simply pay a telephone bill and move on. It's also worth pointing out that the charges are minimal, so people just ignore them.
But, add up thousands of minimal charges and what do you have? Millions in revenue for third parties and the telephone companies that allow this behaviour. Are you shocked? Me too. I'm also feeling obliged to point out a few things to you about your telephone bill.
Beware of Charges
Your telephone bill shouldn't include anything that you don't understand or recognize. Even if a charge is a small one, don't just pay the bill. Call your telephone company and ask what the charge is all about — specifically. If the company representative can't tell you, ask to speak to a supervisor, and demand that the charge be removed.
Crammers usually target senior citizens, but people who rarely look at bills are often duped as well. Thankfully, this practice is coming to a halt, but you never know when or where the next billing scam might take place.