More suggestions from our readers on how to reduce phone scams
Phone Scams, suggestions on how to reduce them.
A few weeks ago I got an unsolicited call from someone offering me $50.00 worth of free groceries. I asked the lady how much the "free" groceries would cost me, and she immediately answered, "$59.95". I told her "thank you, I am not interested." and that ended the phone call.
Hello, I thought I would share our experience with being "slammed."
A little over a year ago we noticed our carrier changed from MCI to AT&T. When I asked my wife why we switched she was as puzzled as I was. The program we were enrolled in on MCI was tailored to our calling patterns and neither of us wanted to go through months of retailoring a new carrier to our needs.
Well, when I called AT&T to inquire about why they decided to change the account without our permission, they said that I had been the one to initiate the change. I replied that is not very likely because the phone billing is in my wife's name and I do not have any control over the account. After about a minute of me reiterating that we were switched without permission, they finally relented and offered to give us a rate lower than our MCI rate for the time we used the AT&T service. AT&T also let us know how we could stop this from ever happening again by notifying our local telco.
The only thing I found frustrating is they would not give me the information of the telemarketer who supposedly got my permission to switch our service. I figured a two A.M. call to his house asking if he wished to switch to MCI would have been a just penalty. When we called MCI and informed them about the situation they switched us back as though we never left. We also sent a letter to our local telco to keep on file, stating that only another letter from us can switch our service.
The bottom line is all three companies involved were willing to do whatever they could to rectify the situation. The big corporations cannot always control the people who work for them who attempt to take short cuts by slamming people. Although I will never know who slammed me, now whenever I get a call from any long distance service telemarketer I let them know I have a letter with my telco that will stop any attempt to slam me and I am not interested in any other long distance service. Hope this story saves someone else from being slammed.
I normally have a great deal of admiration for what you write, but you are a bit off-base offering the URLs:
as a source of unbiased information on long distance phone service services and rates.
http://www.teleworth.com is a long distance sales agency, and they target strictly programs with earn them high commissions - NOT necessarily the best values for consumers. As a high-profile, heavily advertised site, they will gather a good number of customers at relatively high rates, simply because of their web traffic volume. I have nothing specifically against teleworth.com. I think they are a good company; but to present them as an unbiased source of information is dishonest.
http://www.trac.org appears to be a legitimate organization, but they have a major flaw: they present only the tariffs offered directly to the public by the major long distance companies. It is important to note that some of the BEST tariffs are offered by outside marketing agencies and resellers of the services of the major carriers. For example, http://www.trac.org lists an LCI tariff which is $0.09 during off peak periods and $0.15/peak. My company markets an LCI tariff which is $0.09/minute 24 hours/day 7 days/week - and unlike AT&T, MCI, Sprint or any of the other carriers listed on http://www.trac.org - LCI bills in one second increments after the first minute - resulting in 10-15% savings over programs like "MCI One Net", which bills in full minutes.
My company is a long distance telcom sales agency, with nearly 6000 agents, marketing mostly online. We pay decent commissions to our agents, and we provide online signup for most services - something which is not yet widely available among long distance marketing companies.
Traditionally, our specialty has been catering to consumers of international long distance, because of larger phone bills, and resultant higher commissions for our agents. Our current LCI tariff, however, is the best in the industry for most consumers who bill $15 to $500/month in interstate and/or international calls. We provide our agents with free web sites, and an opportunity which I feel is unrivaled in the long distance industry. Included on our site is a "best rates" search engine, which compares our rates for various services with the best rates of AT&T and MCI.
[ Editor's Note: We appreciate your comments about the phone services. However, they are the NCL's recommendations and not ours. We were just passing along the information. ]
Just read your latest emailing.
AOL sent me this neat little letter the other day. In big letters it had FIFTY DOLLAR CHECK ENCLOSED! When I opened it up it was a pitch for using an AOL branded long distance service. =P ( it's bad enough AOL's Internet service has a busy signal all the time, I can only wonder how the long distance service works!) All I had to do to get the fifty bucks is just sign the check. In little-itty-bitty-small print on the back was blah, blah, blah, signing this check will change your long distance service to something or other company blah, blah, blah......
Boy, that's enough to make me cancel my AOL Internet service!
Come to think of it I'm going to cc my AOL account and send the AOL customer service department a version of this email.
I also have ATT Internet service, but I don't think ATT would stoop to these kind of tactics.
Thanks for the ear to email chew on!
In our town of Monongahela, PA, many residents have been billed for 900 services (mostly porno). In my case our phones are blocked for 900 calls and we make no 800 calls except to our bank. After a lot of hassle, we can get the charges reversed, but I spoken to some people who are now being harrased by collection agencies. Some pay out of fear - I guess that is the scam. Fortunately we were hit for only $300.00. I never read much about this. The local police and I even had one person from BellAtlantic tell me the porno companies are just randomly picking phone #'s and billing them. I have not read much of anything on this scam - not really cramming - maybe we could call it jamming???
I have a friend who received a card in the mail that said he won 1 of the 4 prizes. $200 savings bond, $2000 cash, A vacation trip, or a new car.
He called the company and they advised that he had in fact won a prize but they "COULD NOT" tell him what it was until he paid the taxes first. The taxes totaled about $700.00 so my Friend figured he must have gotten the cash prize.
After paying over the phone by credit card, they advised him that he had won the vacation trip and he would receive information in the mail in a few weeks. After receiving the packet... he discovered there were so many limitations on taking the trip that unless he was unemployed and knew a year out that he wanted to go... it would be impossible for him to take advantage of the trip.
The trip was NOTHING special and he was required to do all kinds of tasks to make the arrangements before he could go. The trip expired after a year and to this day... He never called to go on the trip.
He told me afterward about the call and I warned him it was a scam of some sort. He attempted to have his credit card stop the billing but they refused because he had authorized the card.
It appears to me that the prize was "OBVIOUSLY" the trip and the company was none other then a travel agency trying to drum up customers. It also appears that he paid more for the trip then what it was really worth too.
He has learned and vowed to never be scammed again. I have been educating my wife on scams that come to our house. She knows to hang up on phone solicitations too.
I would like to share my experience with telephone fraud. A few weeks ago I received my first GTE bill, which was not only confusing but contained several mistakes.
At the time of connection I was asked if I want 1st month free voice mail service. I agreed, but I made a statement that I will no longer need it after one month. However, in my bill, I was charged $7.65 under "additional services and charges" section, and was credited under "connection section", which is ususlly billed in 3 month installments. This means, that I had to pay $7.65 this month and would be credited for this service (which I didn't order, if it wasn't free) in 3 months.
I called GTE and it took me 1.5 hours to dispute the obvious wrong charges (3 customer representative hang up on me, though, but finally they took it off the bill.
But I've learned that for everything GTE offers, nothing is free.
Sincerely, Tamara Y.
We use a password on all of our accounts including water, electric, phone and gas. Unless the password is used, a caller can not get any information about an account or make any changes in service. You just call and ask that a password be put on your account, and tell them what it will be. We had no problems doing this and it has worked. Make sure it is something that would be impossible to guess. Don't use a family member's name or pet's name or the like.
This is really computer fraud, but it shows up on your phone bill. Last summer an old friend of my grown children came to town and stayed with me a few months. I'd known him for twenty years.
Unbeknownst to me, he used my phone to make many, many 900 calls, and my computer to visit adult sites. These are the ones that when you click on them results in an international phone call. He stole my phone bills so I wouldn't know what he had done, and by the time I found out he was gone and I had a $1800 phone bill. When I couldn't pay it off at the rate they insisted they turn my phone off.
I have paid this down to about $400, and hopefully I can get my regular phone service back, although I'm sure I'll have to pay a very hefty deposit.
I have been doing business with a nasty little company in Texas, Maxtell, Inc. For $39.95 a month I can call local numbers and 911, but can't call Information or the Operator. They are cramming me each month for $12.00 for about 45 minutes of long distance, which I don't want because it is cheaper to buy a phone card.
I blame a lot of this on AOL for letting the spam mail through in the first place. There is no way to block it because I write to mailing lists. For instance, if I blocked hotmail.com and juno.com, I couldn't get mail from my own kids because they use them.
Thanks for letting me vent!
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