Reporting Jon Delano
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Telephone bills can be long and arduous to read through, but it may be worth doing to ensure you are not paying for services you didn’t sign up for.
When Linda Hastings opened her telephone bill, she caught something unusual.
“I received my Verizon bill, and there was a charge of $13.86, and it was from a company that I don’t know who it is or what they do,” Hastings said.
Hastings was a victim of cramming. She was being charged for services she never ordered on her bill.
In this case, the charges were generated by a third party bill aggregator called ILD Teleservices in Florida.
Hastings finally reached a customer service rep to ask about the charges.
“She said, ‘Your husband made a phone call on May 11, 2011, for services, for online services with our company.’ And I said, ‘Well, I guess he came back from the dead. He’s been dead eight years,’” Hastings said.
Most people have to look through many pages of their bills to find all the different charges.
Hastings caught the fraud, but worries many do not. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission said 15 to 20 million households are victimized every year.
Verizon said cramming is bad for consumers and it has revoked billing privileges for 70 crammers in the past four years.
However, the company does make money allowing ILD and others to use their bill collection services.
On Hastings’ bill, ILD said the charge came from Compufix, which is a California company with no relationship to the one in Pittsburgh.
A spokeswoman for iILD said it will investigate and wants to stop crammers, too.
The best solution for consumers is something called Bill Block.
Call Verizon or your landline provider to request the service and stop any chance of cramming on your bill.