Have you received a text asking you to respond “no” or “stop” or you’ll be charged for a service?
Most people would probably ignore such nonsense, but ignoring the text is a signal to a third party that you want to be charged for its “services.”
State Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) fell victim to this rock-or-a-hard-place scam, called “cramming,” and he’s urging his constituents to contact their cell phone carriers to add what’s called a purchase block to their accounts.
A purchase block bars third parties from tagging services fees to phone bills, he said.
“I was recently a victim of wireless phone bill cramming and would have been charged more than ten dollars a month for a service that I did not explicitly authorize had I not caught this,” Mr. Losquadro said. “I encourage everyone who has a mobile phone to contact their service provider and place a purchase block on their account immediately.”
Once the purchase block is in place, customers are issued a PIN number that must be entered to allow third parties to charge an account.
The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission are investigating thousands of complaints and are predicting the problem will grow as more people grow accustomed to purchasing services through their phones.
“Although this appears to be entirely a federal issue, I am examining possible solutions with the New York State Department of State Division of Consumer Protection and will work with the FCC and FTC towards making purchase blocks a mandatory default feature for all wireless plans,” Mr. Losquadro said. “While many families are currently struggling to pay their bills, the last thing they need to worry about is paying additional money for charges they did not permit or even know they are paying for.”