Attorney General’s Office Investigates Cramming Complaints

A cramming crackdown is underway at the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Hundreds of phone customers have complained about being “crammed,” which is when you are charged for services you never ordered.

You can easily lose a lot of money if you don’t keep a close eye on your phone bill.

Operators at the state Public Service Commission’s call center are getting complaint after complaint about cramming. There’s one from a Lakeland woman. She was charged $15.40 on her Verizon bill for an Email Discount Network Setup Fee she never authorized.

PSC spokesman Todd Brown says a lot of people are getting ripped off. “They could be paying hundreds of dollars. A lot depends on how quickly they discover the charges and how quickly they act. Typically what we’re seeing now are charges in the $12.95 to $13.95 range a month and those can add up over time.

The Public Service Commission has taken more than a hundred cramming complaints from all over the state over the past year and a half, and the PSC thinks that’s only a tiny fraction of the number of victims out there.

A Google search of one of the third-party billing companies, Integretel, turned up hundreds of complaints from all over the country. We went to the Florida Attorney General’s office to find out what’s being done about the problem.

Why can’t the Attorney General just step in and shut them down?

Joanne Carrin, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office says it not easy. “Well, right now we’re working with the phone companies to find out why these bills are even showing up on the local phone bill. And they’ve been cooperative so far but we want to make sure that we get to the bottom of it.”

In the meantime, make sure you take a close look at your phone bill each month so you don’t crammed.

The Florida Public Service Commission is also looking into the problem to see if any changes in policy or enforcement need to happen. Officials there say if you see a questionable charge on your phone bill, you should call the company that charged you if you can tell who the company is. Then call your local phone company to have the charge removed.

You can also file a complaint with the PSC online at www.floridapsc.com or by calling toll-free 1-800-342-3552. You should also call the Attorney General’s fraud line if you suspect fraud at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.


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