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Warning! Crammers and Slammers are on the Line!

Home Stager with Faulkner House Interior Redesign


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.

Andrea Peters
Cortiers Real Estate - College Station, TX

Wow. I have been getting a lot of "junk" calls lately. It's been so frustrating! Thanks for the information.

May 12, 2010 07:40 AM
John Howard
Century 21 LeMac Realty - Mountain Home, AR
GRI, Mountain Home, Arkansas 870-404-3614

Pam, Thanks for the heads up...Crammers and Slammers beware!!!

May 12, 2010 07:40 AM
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA

Andrea and John, spread the word!  These people are costing us one way or the other.  It doesn't always help to have caller ID either because it can look like a legitimate business or client call.

May 12, 2010 07:47 AM
Maria Morton
Platinum Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Thanks Pam.  Junk calls and emails are a big time waster. The cramming and slamming ought to be illegal but I suppose they've found a loophole. 

May 12, 2010 07:50 AM
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA

Maria, oh yes, they have found ways to get around the law.  It still works to send a message to the FTC. They use input from consumers to draft new legislation and laws and to help get the word out about underhanded practices.

May 12, 2010 08:00 AM
Jim Dunlap
Roberts Realty - Yucca Valley, CA

I've heard that there are certain offshore area codes that when you call them there are big--thousands of dollars--long distance charges

With internet phone service, I believe that slamming and cramming will eventually become a thing of the past, as they provide unlimited service therefore long distance carriers are not needed.

May 12, 2010 08:17 AM
Michael A. Caruso
Surterre Properties - Laguna Niguel, CA

Wow. Thanks for posting this it has great information so keep away those scammers!



May 12, 2010 08:18 AM
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA

Jim, I hope you are right about this type of thing dying out but I suspect that they will reinvent themselves with some other kind flim-flam to stay in business. 

Michael, I will have to post something that I just received through the email that suggests ways to deal with these telemarketers.  It's really funny but you really don't want to stay on the phone with these people as I found out.  I doubt any of these things would work but it's good for a laugh.

May 12, 2010 08:33 AM
Lynn Crawford
A Different View - Olney, MD
Staging DC & Maryland

Pam - I always check my Verizon bill - that is when they send the "detailed" version. Evidently our home phone was hit by one of these groups with a phony voicemail fee. Since I never ordered voicemail I contacted Verizon to have them block the charges. They were pretty good about giving me a refund but you have to be super diligent about the bills. I'm sure there are lots of folks who pay the bill without looking at the detail and unknowingly paying fees they didn't expect.

May 12, 2010 08:50 AM
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA


I check all of my bills and since the phone bills are usually the same every month, a change is a signal that something may be off.  Some of these charges are meant to be fairly low so they may be overlooked or maybe not worth investigating.  Even a $10-$20 one time fee multiplied by the thousands or more people who are scammed can mean $$$ to these companies.  I'm sorry that you were hit too.  I've talked to quite a few people about this and am shocked at how pervasive the practice is.

May 12, 2010 09:47 AM
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

Thanks Pam.  I got this from your Facebook or LinkedIn blog (?) and I sent it to everyone on my contact list. We get a lot of suspicious calls and now we just hang up.   Appreciate you letting us know!

May 12, 2010 01:09 PM
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA

Hi Ginger, good to hear from you!  Can you tell I was steamed about this?  I've been telling everyone I know.  Keep spreading the word to hang up before they are switched. That seems to be the key.

May 12, 2010 02:57 PM
Ann Dail
Baton Rouge Area Homes, Louisiana, USA, 225-761-0551 - Baton Rouge, LA
Broker/Realtor,CRS, ePRO, SRS, B.A.Chem

Too funny!  Good ideas.  I have stopped answering any call I can't identify.

May 22, 2010 03:41 AM
Pam Faulkner
Faulkner House Interior Redesign - Herndon, VA
Room Transformations Fairfax & Loudoun Counties VA

Ann, I usually to do that too, but when I have been busy at my desk and and expecting a call back I guess I automatically answer the phone.  The problem is that some of these calls are identified with a person's name and so may look like a potential client calling.  When that happens, and not very often anymore, believe me, I can immediately hear that tell tale background chatter and I hang up.

May 23, 2010 04:59 AM