Warning! Crammers are on the Line!
In the last week I've received quite a few boiler room sales-type calls-you know the type when you can hear a lot of people talking in the background. I tell them to take me off the list and that I'm not interested before they can give me their pitch.
Last month there was a new long distance carrier charge on my business phone that I had to dispute. It was bizarre since I make it a practice never to talk to these people. Verizon said that they get complaints about this kind of thing all the time, it's called "cramming" Another type is "slamming" where your phone service provider is switched.
The Verizon rep agreed to send this to dispute and put a block on my account so that "add-ons" like this wouldn't happen. She also said that it might take a few billing cycles for the charge to come off, but at least I wasn't liable for the charge.
I learned some important things I wanted to pass along. We all know not to talk to these people, but they are getting more clever in their business practices. If you ask for your number to be placed on the Do Not Call list, hang up immediately after that. It's not a guarantee that you won't be crammed, but it's a start.
If you hold for verification, it will somehow technically imply that you are agreeing to services! The key is being switched. So hang up if you get a call that even remotely sounds like a sales call and DON'T let them switch you to anyone or for anything because it will imply a "sale".
Report it immediately to your phone carrier. They may not be able to block the charges proactively but they should be able to place the information on your account so that if you do get crammed you will have more information for a dispute.
The Verizon rep told me that she has handled hundreds of calls like this. Many of the calls sound legitimate and can lure people in. The aggravating thing is that you may not even know you have been crammed until you get your phone bill as in my case.
The most disturbing thing is that these "crammers" are in many ways protected from penalties or prosecution, even though it is costing the phone companies unknown dollars to undo these charges, and the cost is passed to business owners like us. Reporting incidents to the FCC can help.
I'm writing this to make everyone aware that there are lots of these "crammers" out there with subtle schemes to entrap you, making it easy for them to add something directly to your phone bill without you even realizing it until you get your bill. For me, it was a time waster and an aggravation for a charge that was less than $20. The Verizon rep said that in some cases it can be more-a lot more.
Have you had a similar experience or one that was worse? Please share it to prevent others from becoming victims.