The cram makes a comeback on phone bills


RIP-OFF ALERT: The cram has roared back to life on cell phone bills, landline bills and business lines of service. Longtime listeners will remember that the cram describes a situation where phone companies team up with third party marketers to put phony charges on your monthly bill.

If I want to steal millions of dollars, the formula is simple: I come up with a phony name for a fake service, described it very poorly in a few words for billing purposes and start billing people at random. A typical cram charge on an individual’s bill could $3 or $5 each month, while a business could be stuck with a charge of $15 or $30 each month.

Crams show up on your bill and they’re just there. For businesses, cram charges usually appear on a page marked “unregulated charges.” You might go a year or two before you notice you’re paying hundreds of dollars to thieves.

It’s gotten to the point where the FTC is having a hearing to decide what to do about cramming. The answer is simple. The only purpose of these charges is to steal. There’s no legit reason they should come through on bills. The only reason is so that phone companies can get a cut of the revenue. So the simple solution is to outlaw cramming. But the phone companies will never allow it because it enriches them too much.

You have the responsibility to go through your bill each month and vet it for these charges. If you find one, call your phone company and say you’re not paying for it and demand that they remove it. Period.

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