CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Living on a fixed income, Marta Millikan looked to her cell phone bill to trim her budget. She dropped to a less costly plan with T-mobile, but her bill actually increased. She went through her bill line by line and noticed a charge for "premium services."
"I called T-mobile and asked them 'Could you please explain to me these premium services?' He says, 'Well you've got ring tones and you've got quiz time.'" Millikan explained to CALL FOR ACTION.
The charges and taxes added up to almost 30 dollars extra on her bill.
"They said, 'You must have gone on the Internet and clicked on something.' I said, 'I assure you. I did not go on the Internet and click on anything.' And then they gave me these 877 numbers to call Malaysia," said Millikan.
After struggling to get a refund, Marta called CALL FOR ACTION for help.
"That 30 dollars is money in my gas tank, food in the refrigerator, gas to go pick up my granddaughter from school," said Millikan.
What happened to her is something called "cramming." The Florida Attorney General received so many complaints about "cramming" on bills, He took action against T-mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.
In July of this year, T-mobile and the attorney general reached an agreement.
It says T-mobile will issue credits and refunds to customers for unauthorized charges and provide a clear notice to customers of about refunds for those charges.
So we contacted T-mobile about what happened. They researched the situation and found Marta had two months of unauthorized charges. They say this was an isolated incident and their customer service representatives have been educated about the settlement. They did refund two months of charges to Marta's bill.
Marta was thrilled, "I say God bless Call for Action. You guys are great!"
If you are a T-mobile, AT&T or Verizon customer, your provider has an same agreement with the Florida Attorney General. Look at your bill, and if you see those charges ask for a refund.
To read the settlement agreement with T-mobile, click here.
To read the settlement agreement with AT&T, click here.
To read the settlement agreement with Verizon, click here.
If your provider will not give you a refund, you can file a complaint online by clicking here. You can also call the Florida Attorney General by dialing 1-866-966-7226
If you are customer of Sprint, the Attorney General still has pending action against your provider.
How do you keep your phone from being crammed? Make sure you protect your cell phone number like your social security number. Don't give it out on sites you don't trust on the Internet or use it to sign up for contests. Some providers also allow you to block downloads to your phone. You can also register your cell phone number on the National Do Not Call list. You can find a link by clicking here.