The other day I was getting ready to pay my cell phone bill online, and noticed that it seemed high. I took a closer look and noticed a $19.95 “usage fee”. Now, because I am a frugal person I purposely set up my service so that there would be no overages of any kind. So, I braved the potential one hour wait time to talk to a real person and learned that this charge was for a third party billing service for “premium texting”. Sometime ago I had begun receiving texts for some blingy contests. I had taken them as text spam, bad enough in and of itself. But this was much worse. They were charging me for these spam messages and I never signed up for anything like that! Why would I?
Well, they reversed the charges, and blocked any further third party billing requests. And I learned a valuable lesson. First—check every item on your phone bill every month. Don’t be afraid to raise a bit of a fuss over any suspicious items. If you completely understand what you are signing up for, you will spot phony charges right away.
Second—call your cell service right away and get them to block all third party billing. If you are getting a new phone or changing providers don’t forget to renew your blocking request. If they don’t understand the request ask to speak to someone who does understand and can help you.
Third—be careful how you use your texting service. These scam artists harvest numbers from many different sources, some of them very legitimate looking. If you are EVER asked to provide your mobile number online, find out first what the asker intends to do with your number.
Protect yourself. Don’t let rats steal from you a little at a time. If you follow these simple steps you will be sure you are not paying for things you didn’t ask for and don’t want.