Victims Say The Bogus Costs Were Buried On The Back Pages Of Their Bills

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A new scam could be causing the price of your cell phone bill to increase, according to victims.

Extra charges are getting buried on some cell phone bills and it isn’t the phone company that’s putting them there.

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“One month of it being a little higher and we didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until three months of it being consistently higher that we finally looked into it and discovered, we had been cramming victims,” alleged victim Christie Hicks told CBS 2’s Maurice Dubois.

Technology gives consumers the ability to pay for certain services by having the cost added to their cellphone bills. In the days following Hurricane Katrina text donations were billed to cellphone users with their permission. Over the years some companies, with questionable practices, have taken advantage of this feature and captured cellphone numbers through websites or mobile apps, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

“Malicious software that’s downloaded on your phone after you downloaded an app and that gets your phone number and somehow you’re signed up for some kind of service,” explained FTC spokesperson Malini Mithal.

Once those unscrupulous companies have your information they “cram” on the charges.

“You had to actually dig through all 50 pages to find a single line that had this $9.99 charge on it,” Hicks said.

The FTC recently filed a lawsuit against Wise Media in federal court. Wise Media is the same company that Hicks said crammed her.

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The agency has alleged that Wise made millions off of unauthorized charges. Wise denied the cramming allegations and said that the fees were for subscription services. An attorney for the company told CBS 2 that customers who requested refunds received them.

Action against other alleged crammers is in the works, according to the FTC. The agency also has tough questions for cellphone companies that may have received a cut of the charges.

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