As I mentioned in my May 10th blog, I was able to attend the first panel at the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) May 8th “Mobile Cramming” Roundtable.  The panel’s 6 experts addressed the topic of “Understanding Third-Party Billing and Mobile Cramming”.

The experts were: Mike Altschul from the CTIA- The Wireless Association; John Breyault from the National Consumers League; Larry Bryenton, from the Canadian Competition Bureau; Jim Greenwell, from BilltoMobile; Jim Manis, from the Mobile Giving Foundation; and Kate Whelley McCabe, from the Office of the Vermont Attorney General. They represented differing perspectives on this issue which helped provide a more complete and nuanced understanding of the scope and complexity of mobile phone bill cramming.

The FTC found a critical consumer issue in the Wise Media case that it’s filed — and it’s an issue on which the panel agreed.  Many consumers don’t expect their mobile phone bills to have charges from 3rd parties. Often the charges appear in a format that’s abbreviated, unclear or doesn’t clearly identify the company from which the charges are coming.

So what can consumers do?  Here are the top 2 tips from the panel:

  1. Read your mobile phone bill carefully.  Yes that sounds obvious but the panelists said, based on their respective experiences, that consumers either skip over the details of the bill or assume that the charges are legitimate.
  2. Contact your mobile phone carrier to ask about charges that look unfamiliar and/or to contest unauthorized charges.

The 2nd point is key since the panelists said consumers often contact the FTC or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as they think one or both of those Federal agencies can investigate and correct the charges.  Consumers can and should report mobile phone scams to these agencies but their mobile phone carriers are the place to start to seek reimbursement of the unauthorized charges.