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Belleville Police Department Fell Victim to Cramming

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KMOX) – It’s called the most pervasive scam today. And according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan phone bill cramming is now a two billion dollar a year scheme.

“Cramming” is the practice of placing unauthorized, or misleading charges on your telephone bill. The FCC says schemers rely on confusing telephone bills in an attempt to trick consumers into paying for services they did not authorize or receive.

Belleville Police Captain Don Sax is now coming forward to warn citizens that this scam can happen to anyone.

“The city of Belleville fell victim to it over a several month period back in 2008,” said Captain Sax.

He says the cities finance director spotted the odd charges and Sax found 8 phone lines including three police lines used to make $1,800 in third party charges.

They got all the money back.

But its just another reason why Madigan and consumer advocate groups are pushing legislation that would hopefully end the deceptive practice. The legislation would ban billing by third-party companies on land-line phones.(While there have been some cases of “cramming” on cell phones, this particular legislation focuses only on land lines.)

Captain Sax agrees with the current legislation. But says pay close attention to your phone bill for bogus charges.
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Cramming can look like general terms on your phone bill such as “service fee,” “service charge,” “other fees,” “voicemail,” “mail server,” “calling plan,” “psychic” and “membership.” (Click here for more consumer tips)

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