SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA -- Charges appear on your phone bill that you did not authorize, it's called cramming. Companies can simply charge AT&T for services you never ordered, never requested, and you have to pay them or your phone will be disconnected for non-payment. One of the biggest scammers or crammers is: ENHANCED SERVICES BILLING INC. Phone: 800-570-0269, 7411 JOHN SMITH DR. STE. 200 SAN ANTONIO, Texas, 78229 U.S.A.
AT&T says they are powerless to do anything to stop this and must collect the charges, even though they know they are fraudulent charges. It showed up as enhanced services on my bill $12.95. I thought for months it was the 3-way calling, call waiting, and call forwarding I had on my service with AT&T. To try to stop this according to ATT. You must call the company and tell them that you did not order service, do not want service of any kind, and want the charges reversed. The company then must agree to this and authorize a credit, give you a reference number for your refund or charges.
Good luck, the numbers will usually say they are closed or you're put on hold and never pick up again. I was told by an AT&T employee who thought it was the consumer's fault, that this type of problem was because people did not vote or pay attention to the FCC. She said she hears complaints like this every day. Said it was not AT&T's fault, that AT&T just billed for these services. Over 200 hundred different companies and made no money whatsoever for these services or the billing of these services. When was the last time AT&T gave you something for free??
She did say, if you called and could not reach the crammers, that you could then call AT&T back and dispute the charges, again, and that they could put them in a pending file and you would not be charged. However, if you don't pay the charges and do not have authorization to not pay for services that you never ordered. The company Enhanced Services Billing, could then send you paper bills and even turn your account over to a collection agency for the amount not paid.
How is that for a business, free billing by AT&T, you get your phone service cut off if you do not pay, and you get sent to a collection agency if you dispute the bill. Only in the USA would the FCC and the PUC get together to allow a business that must be the best scam going on in America today. Now it is possible for you to use a pay phone, yes they still have these, or you may accept a collect call, a few ways these are legitimate charges. But, this would be a one-time event. These people have been ripping me off for months and many other people. AT&T claims no responsibility, yet will cut off your phone for not paying, that's great. AT&T is helping to perpetuate the scam.
Anyone capable of capturing a consumer's telephone number can cause charges for a product or service to be included on that person's phone bill. Using Automatic Number Identification (ANI), a system similar to "caller ID," they can capture the phone number from which a call to the party originates. Thus, the only thing needed by scam artists that have ANI is a method of inducing you to call them. You don't even need to divulge credit card or other account numbers in order to be billed.
Similarly, phone numbers can be obtained, without high-tech equipment, through purported sweepstakes that require a phone number on an entry form, or even through simply drawing numbers at random from the telephone directory. The FTC, which accused San Antonio Texas-based New Century Equity Holdings Corp. and two of its subsidiaries of "cramming" or hiding unauthorized charges for Website design and "other enhanced services" on the phone bills of thousands of unsuspecting consumers has settled its complaint.
New Century and its subsidiaries, Billing Concepts Inc. and Enhanced Services Billing Inc., agreed to a settlement of the complaint which alleged that the companies attempted to force consumers to pay for website design services and calling cards that the consumers did not ask to receive.
It was noted that New Century and its subsidiaries did not sell the services in question, but rather acted as "billing aggregators", serving as intermediaries between the fraudulent vendors and the phone companies. As such they provided the portal into the telephone billing system, without which crammers would have no way of placing charges on consumers' phone bills. The FTC has also filed complaints against several of the crammers who used New Century's services.
Tips to help you avoid cramming scams. Be aware that your local telephone company may bill for services provided by other companies. Be especially wary if you're told to enter codes, leave your name, or answer "yes" to prompts. Unscrupulous entertainment providers may use this ruse to send you a bill. All 900 numbers cost money, even if you're calling to claim a "free" prize. All 900 numbers that cost more than $2 must give you a brief introductory message about the service, the service provider, and the cost of the call. You have three seconds after the message ends to hang up without being charged.
Consider getting a 900 number block; it stops calls from going through to 900 number services. Blocks also are available for international, long distance, and local toll calls. Call your phone company for details. Examine your phone bill for recurring monthly charges. These charges typically appear as "Miscellaneous Charges and Credits". They may be so small, or described in such general terms, that they're easy to overlook or confuse with valid services you may have ordered from another provider. Watch for fees described as "Min Use Fee", "Activation", "Member Fee", "Voice Mail", or some similar phrase.
If you find an error on your bill, instructions on your statement will tell you whom to call or write to dispute the charge. Follow up any phone conversations with a letter, sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep a copy for your files. This is a big scam going on since 1998 on the research I have done. To fight it, hit AT&T with the fact that you did call the listed number for the company, send the company a letter and demand that AT&T put these charges in the disputed file. Contact the FCC and PUC to see what can be done.
Think of how much these people are making. 1 million customers, which is a minimal figure would be worth 12 million dollars in just one month, and this has been going on for years. Nothing is free and I am shocked that the telco industry, and this affects internet users, cell phone users, would allow this to continue.
So you can be assured if AT&T allows this to go on for 8 or 9 years, they are making money somewhere for billing for these services or we would not have it. I told them I was going to get Vonage, they said "fine go ahead", so they don't care. I have just put over 3 hours in to researching reading, talking to AT&T over a $12.00 bill for this month. However it's an illegal business that is worth billions and no one, no one but us, the people being robbed will stop this HUGE scam. Geez who needs to do anything illegal to make money, just get some phone numbers and send them to AT&T and put some charges on them. The numbers can come right out of the phone book. What a scam.