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Stop Getting “Crammed” on Your Phone Bill

On November 29th, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law an AARP-backed bill that will provide Illinois consumers with protection against a growing and illegal telephone billing practice called known as “cramming.”  This new law will help the thousands of Illinois consumers who have been paying untold amounts of money for phone services or products they did not order or authorize. 

“Cramming” happens when a third party places charges onto a telephone account for services that the consumer does not explicitly authorize, such as three-way calling or caller ID. 

The legislation, Senate Bill 1421, sponsored by Senator Michael Boland (D-Grayslake) and Representative John Bradley (D-Marion), fights cramming practices by requiring third party verification on charges placed on telephone bills.  Parties that charge for services or products on a consumer’s bill must now confirm the consumer has requested the service, and must also record the phone call.  Records will also be maintained by the service provider for two years.

Add-on charges, surcharges, and third party charges have increased dramatically over the last few years, impacting all consumers and particularly older consumers.  AARP encourages all consumers to review their phone bill and contact their phone company if you believe you are being charged for services you did not authorize.  The phone company should remove the unauthorized charges.  If you believe your phone company is knowingly charging you fraudulently, you can contact the Illinois Attorney General’s Office Senior Citizen’s Consumer Fraud Helpline at 1-800-243-5377.

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