My wife and I have a shared/family/whatevertheycallit wireless plan with AT&T. A few months ago I noticed our wireless bill increased from its normal level of about $180 a month to over $250. I expected it because I temporarily needed a Canadian data and voice plan while traveling. I had to sign up for a month to use it for a few days and then cancel those plans after I finished my trip. Of course, I forgot to cancel for about two weeks after the trip but the fees were pro-rated and I was credited the correct amount. Oddly, after I removed those plans, our bill never did drop to the previous level. It remained about $10 higher than it was originally. I just paid it. Then, AT&T announced a restructured data plan and changed the rate and so I was just paying the bill – I really never look at it. That is until this month when I actually did because I wanted to figure out what was going on. We got crammed. Not slammed. CRAMMED. Slamming is what long distance companies used to do (still?) by changing your long distance carrier without your permission or knowledge. Cramming is similar except it happens via text . You receive the text and the scumbags begin to charge you a monthly fee. In my case, I had TWO services charging me $9.99 a month, each. Funny thing is that I didn’t catch it for THREE months and I NEVER received any Horoscope or Stock tips. (Of course they are not going to send you any because if you began to get a string of Horoscopes or Stock Tips then you would know you were subscribed to something, so these companies are literally STEALING your money and giving you NOTHING.)
I’m confident that some readers are thinking – “E, you are an idiot of a colossal status. Just delete the texts and they can’t charge you. Dope.” Ya’ know I probably would have said that too until last week. You see, THAT is precisely how you get subscribed – by IGNORING the message. Here…read this:
Notice that the message says…”To cancel, reply STOP.” That means if you get this message, you are subscribed and you are paying $9.99 a month. If you respond STOP, the theory is that you will not be subscribed.
These are not people with whom you have ever done business. These are companies who snag phone numbers from online resources like website and social media – probably phone number databases – and fire off their text messages to the number they grab. Whenever I would get one, I would not ignore it but I would use AT&T’s Mark the Spot app which has a function to report spam texts. I was being a good wireless citizen – If you see something, say something. And AT&T always thanked me with a follow up text.
Well guess what? The carriers CAN stop it, but they don’t because they make money with these fraudulent texts – in some cases they get HALF! Yes, they DID refund my money (they will only refund THREE months of fraudulent subscriptions) and they DID set up a PIN control to prevent this from happening – we’ll see if it works.
Now, are you ready to get REALLY pissed? Hamid Shojaee at AZ Disruptors has produced a video that explains cramming and one alleged source of these texts. There’s a dude – Jason Hope – who apparently is responsible for a lot of this crap. He’s not they only one I’m sure but he is becoming stratospherically wealthy through his devious and in my opinion, illegal activities. One shocking claim by Shojaee is that Jason Hope is constructing a 100,000 sq ft. home in Scottsdale, AZ – TWICE the size of Bill Gates home. (Yes. ONE-HUNDRED-THOUSAND-SQUARE-FEET. NOT a typo. That’s the claim.) Watch this video produced by Hamid. Then check your cell phone bills and look for subscriptions – it’s not just AT&T – all carriers are subject to cramming. Make sure you haven’t been crammed. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9MQAfh-bCE[/youtube] More about cramming: http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/Cell_phone_scam More reading about Jason Hope: http://www.valleyprblog.com/pr-best-practices/jason-hope/ http://www.jasonhopegives.com/ http://www.jasonhope.net/ http://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonrhope (Looks like Jason has no connections.) https://twitter.com/#!/jason_r_hope (Looks like Jason has nothing to tweet about.)