Be sure to scrutinize those phone bills

An editorial from the Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It is a scam that affects more than 20 million Americans a year, and most of them never know they’ve been had.

The Federal Trade Commission calls it “phone bill cramming” — typically small charges added to your cell phone or land line bill by third parties for services you never ask for or even used. Some common service items are ringtones, trivia, daily horoscopes or love tips, and the charges can range from as little as $2 up to $24.95. The most common charge amount is $9.99.

Cramming costs consumers an estimated $2 billion a year, but only one person in 20 recognizes the unrequested service, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Many times the scam begins with a text message with a special offer or contest entry solicitation, and by replying, the users unwittingly signs up for the service.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller last year introduced the Fair Telephone Billing Act that would prohibit unauthorized third party charges, but the bill has never made it out of committee.

Meanwhile, some states are cracking down on the practice on their own…

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