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‘Crammers’ targeting your phone bill with deceptive charges

I’m always looking for new ways to help you save on your bills. One of the easiest places to save is your phone bill.

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I’m not talking about cutting service, of course. Right now, nasty scam charges could be bloating your bill. This is called “cramming.”

Most of the time, you won’t even notice cramming. Scammers are experts at slowly robbing you of hundreds over several months. A recent investigation estimated that this scam costs consumers $2 billion a year.

That’s only on landlines! Cellphones just make the scammer’s job easier.

Luckily, spotting and stopping the charges requires very little effort. In some circumstances, you can even get your money back.

So, here’s how cramming works. A company claims to offer you a trial of its service. The most-popular scams offer horoscopes, fortunes and “adult” entertainment.

If you use the free trial but don’t cancel right away, the company starts charging. It’s usually $2 to $10 a month.

Most people assume it’s the phone company slightly changing their rates. However, the charges will keep draining more and more of your cash.

Paperless billing and automatic payments make the scam harder to catch. Request an itemized statement from your phone company at the end of the month.

If you get paper bills, you probably already have this. Once you get it, comb the bill looking for charges you don’t recognize.

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