What is slamming and cramming (and how can you prevent it from happening to you)?
If you notice that your bills are coming from a provider you don’t recognize you may have been a victim of slamming. Slamming and cramming are two ways that people have been able to successfully alter the payment plans of unsuspecting customers. The two terms initially arose during the days of the telephone industry when land lines were prevalent, but now they are common terms for a number of different industries.
Slamming refers to the illegal practice of switching your telephone provider to another provider without your permission. Cramming refers to placing unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges on your bill. Both tactics have the ability to rack up hundreds of dollars of unwanted charges in a single bill cycle.
While these tactics were initially started in the telephone industry, they eventually spread to the energy industry, where changing utility providers over the phone was an easy option for customers. Salesmen will call you and use ambiguous language to change your current utility company to a new one that’s paying them a commission. Without even knowing you approved a switch in companies, you could end up with higher bills, unauthorized charges and lost services.
Here are five things you should do to help prevent having to pay for a service you didn’t want, or even know you had:
- Check your bills every month for charges you don’t recognize.
- If you see an unauthorized charge on your account, DO NOT pay it. Call your provider immediately to ask for clarification.
- If your company has changed without your knowledge, call the new company and ask to talk to their fraud department. Keep notes of all conversations with the company.
- File a police report for fraudulent action and keep a copy for your records.
- Check your credit card statements to make sure someone doesn’t have your information and isn’t using it to make other fraudulent charges on your behalf.
While there is still a possibility that you could be a victim of slamming or cramming, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put several regulations in place to help mitigate the risk of this happening to you. One of the most important regulations is the mandate of third-party verification. This means that a third party that is not involved with the company you are switching services to or from must speak with you and acknowledge that you are approving the change. Many states have varying laws about this depending on which account you are changing, but all of them will require you to answer questions through an independent company to verify the change. TPV Ninja has streamlined this process, automating the time-consuming part of having to wait to speak to an operator at a call center, while keeping the process safe and secure. Not only does this software reduce the chances of slamming or cramming, but it also makes the process of third party verification fast and easy.