The Illinois attorney general and consumer advocate groups are pushing legislation that would end a deceptive practice known as “cramming.” Attorney General Lisa Madigan says phone bill “cramming” has hit hundreds of thousands of consumers and businesses with bogus charges on their phone bills. “Phone bill cramming is one of the most pervasive scams today,” Madigan said.
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“Scam artists use consumers’ phone numbers like credit cards, racking up charges for things they never ordered and don’t want and profiting to the tune of $2 billion each year. Only a statewide ban on third-party charges will put an end to the scheme.” Steve Bernas, president of the Better Business Bureau, says many consumers don’t check their bill and could be paying for things they haven’t asked for. “Consumers and businesses alike must check their invoices and question changes or unexpected charges immediately to mitigate potential cost or service changes brought on by these cramming activities,” Bernas said. Dave Kolata, executive director Citizens Utility Board, says a recent federal study of “cramming” shows 20 million people nationwide fall victim to the scam, costing consumer $2 billion a year. Kolata says one in 20 consumers discover they are being “crammed.” The legislation would ban billing by third party companies on land-line phones. While there have been some cases of “cramming” on cell phones, this particular legislation focuses only on land lines.