Bill cramming becomes a mobile problem

April 18, 2013 at 10:25 AM
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ATLANTA, April 18 (UPI) -- The Federal Trade Commission says it's filed charges in Atlanta against a marketing firm for padding mobile phone bills with charges for unauthorized services.

Commonly referred to as bill cramming, the FTC charged Wise Media, two of its owners and Concrete Marketing Research with benefiting from deceptive sales practices, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The practice that is generally associated with land lines is now a concern for mobile phone users, the Times said.

It involves sneaking charges onto a phone bill for advice on how to flirt, unwanted horoscopes text messages and other services that consumers either don't notice or fail to take actions to stop. In other instances, consumers direct the marketers to stop sending unwanted services and these stop orders are ignored, regulators said.

Often the bill for an unwanted service is tacked onto a bill -- typically $9.99 per month -- and the consumer does not notice it is there. After a time, the size of the bill is assumed to fall within a new range. Once a consumer begins to expect a bill of a certain size, they often stop scrutinizing the bill to see why it is so high.

The FTC said in typical fashion, Wise Media and Concrete Marketing had gone to "great lengths to hide its contact information from consumers." The Times said neither the companies nor the two owners could be reached for comment.

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