Three easy ways to tell if you’re a victim of overbilling

Spot bogus phone, cable or internet overcharges using these simple tips

In May 2015, the federal agency tasked with monitoring our nation’s telcos (the Federal Communications Commission or “FCC”) released a list of tips to help consumers know whether they have been overcharged or “crammed.”

The FCC recommends that you carefully review your bill every month, just as closely as you review your monthly credit card and bank statements. Here are some words that, if they show up on your bills, are red flags:

  1. Charges for services that are explained on your telephone bill in general terms such as “service fee,”  “service charge,” “other fees,” “voicemail,” “mail server,” “calling plan” and “membership.”
  2. Charges that are added to your telephone bill every month without a clear explanation of the services provided, such as a “monthly fee” or “minimum monthly usage fee.”
  3. Charges for specific services or products you may not have authorized, like ringtones, cell phone wallpaper, or “premium” text messages about sports scores, celebrity gossip, flirting tips, or horoscopes.

In addition to these three simple tips, the FCC recommends that you ask yourself the following questions as you review your bill:

  • Do I recognize the names of all the companies listed on my bill?
  • What services were provided by the listed companies?
  • Does my bill include charges for calls I did not place or services I did not authorize?
  • Are the rates and line items consistent with the rates and line items that the company quoted to me?

Get your money back

According to the FCC, overbilling often goes undetected as very small “mystery charges” – sometimes $3 or less – to thousands of consumers.  Such charges can remain on bills for years. This adds up quickly. An overcharge of $3 for 3 years would total $108!


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