A study released by the Citizens Utility Board shows that "cramming" could be costing Illinois wireless customers millions each year.
Cramming is done by third-party businesses that put fraudulent charges on phone bills for products and services customers never ordered or received. A new state law protects land line bills from most third-party charges, but that law does not effect wireless customers.
Crammers get access to consumer's cell phone bills through text messages that offer ringtone downloads or say the consumer has won a prize. Websites offering free services or sweepstakes could also give crammers access to bills. Consumers who respond, and even some who do not, then see things like "premium texting," "download charge," and "data" on their bills.
According to a study released by CUB and using data from wireless industry research firm Validas, cramming charges averaged about $3.76 per month in Illinois. If those costs are applied to all of the state's 12.3 million cell phone subscribers, it would lead to costs of up to $1.4 million a year.
CUB recommends consumers take the following steps to avoid cramming charges:
Those who see a suspicious charge should take the following steps:
The Citizen's Utility Board is a non-profit utility watchdog organization created by the Illinois Legislature.
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