Ill. AG testifies about 'cramming'

Bryan Cohen Jul. 13, 2011, 1:57pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan testified on Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee and called for a nationwide ban on phone bill "cramming."

Madigan alleges that the practice of cramming has exploited unknowing consumers whose phone numbers are used to charge hundreds of dollars in bogus services they never wanted or asked for.

"Phone bill cramming is a scheme to use a consumer's phone number like a credit card," Madigan said. "Whether over the phone or on the internet, consumers are solicited for free trials, coupons or prizes, and they're never clearly told they're purchasing a service, that they'll be billed for on their phone bill or that giving out their phone number will amount to giving out their credit card information."

In recent years, consumers have increasingly reported being scammed online, Madigan said. Internet users have reported submitting their phone number, along with other information, for online prize drawings, free recipes or surveys. Weeks or months later, the consumers find charges on their phone bills for services they did not use or authorize.

"My office has filed 30 lawsuits on behalf of consumers who discovered unauthorized charges on their phone bills," Madigan said. "Cramming is a fraud epidemic affecting consumers in every state. We must enact legislation to ban third-party businesses from cramming charges on phone bills."

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