Telephone Fraud: Slamming and Cramming
Cramming is the placement of charges on your telephone bill for services you have not authorized. Examples include unwanted voice mail, call waiting or toll-free calls (800, 888, 877, 866, 855, or 844 numbers) that automatically roll over to toll calls.
Slamming and cramming can occur with long distance or local telephone service, as well as many other services.
- Carefully check your phone bill each month for unrecognizable company names and charges. Call the companies listed to confirm you are only paying for services you have authorized and requested.
- Call your local phone company and request information on any services that protect you from slamming or cramming. One example, a Presubscribed Interexchange Carrier (PIC) freeze, is generally free. With a PIC freeze, the local phone company must secure your direct permission before acting on another company's order to change your service.
- Be careful and firm with telemarketers. Request more detailed information in writing, if desired. In Indiana, the company is required to oblige. Answer the telemarketer's questions with discretion and hang up if you are not interested or feel uncomfortable or pressured. Insist on a complete description of all fees you might be charged.
- Carefully read all of your mail. Look for anything stating that you have switched phone providers or authorized a charge on your phone bill. Notify the provider if this was an unauthorized change and verify that it will be reversed. Call your local phone company to report the problem and confirm that your account has been adjusted correctly. Keep a written record of all contacts (including dates and names) in case you are slammed or crammed again.
If you believe you have been slammed or crammed, take immediate action. Keep a record of all communications, noting the dates and times of your attempts to reach the companies, along with all contact names and summaries of your discussions.
- Call or write the company that slammed or crammed your service.
- Report the charges you are disputing.
- Request immediate removal of unwanted or unauthorized services and ask that your account be credited for any charges.
- Request a copy of any paperwork that claims charges were requested or authorized.
- Inform the company that you will report the problem to both your local phone company and the IURC.
- Call or write your local telephone company.
- Detail the services and charges you did not authorize.
- Request removal of any unauthorized changes or charges.
- Reinstate your original long distance or local phone service - whichever was slammed.
- Request removal of any “change charges” (charges for switching companies) from your bill.
- Ask about services to prevent future slamming and cramming incidents.
- Call the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission toll-free at 1-800-851-4268. The IURC regulates electric, natural gas, telecommunications, steam, water and sewer utilities.
- Under Indiana law, while an investigation is ongoing, your local phone provider may not disconnect your service due to nonpayment of the disputed charges. However, you are still responsible for paying undisputed charges on time and in full.
- If the IURC determines that the state's slamming or cramming laws have been violated, the disputed charges must be removed from your bill.
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204