WILMINGTON– Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden is warning consumers to beware of unsolicited text messages and to monitor their wireless phone bills for unsolicited text message charges.
Biden said his office's Consumer Protection Unit has received complaints from Delaware residents victimized by the following two new types of scams in which consumers receive unsolicited, fraudulent text messages:
The first, known as "smishsmashing," occurs when a consumer receives an unsolicited text message, often containing the name of a well-known retail company, offering a sweepstakes prize. These texts are not legitimate; normally, the sender of these texts is fishing for personal information about the consumer.
The second, known as "cramming," is when a consumer receives a monthly fee on his or her wireless phone bill for an unauthorized charge from a third party. This fee, often in the amount of $9.99 per month or less, can appear on the consumer's bill in a number of different forms, including "Trivia Alerts," "Military History" or "Horoscopes", or with a more vague description such as "premium messaging." The consumer often is instructed to reply "STOP" to avoid incurring monthly charges. Sometimes cramming occurs when a consumer enters his or her wireless phone number in order to receive ringtones or other online services; other times there is no apparent reason why the consumer received crammed charges.
"Scammers are always looking for new ways to trick consumers and steal their money," Biden said. "It is important that consumers do not respond to these fraudulent messages and carefully review their monthly phone bills for improper charges. If you think you have been victimized by one of these scams, please call my office's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-220-5424 right away."
Although the source of unsolicited text messages or crammed messages is not always apparent, Biden said there are a number of things that consumers can do to avoid being victims of wireless scams such as smishsmashing or cramming:
Do not reply to unsolicited text messages asking for personal information.
Monitor your wireless phone bill every month, even if your account is set up for automatic monthly payments. Call your wireless carrier to inquire about unexplained charges. Consider asking for itemized monthly billing if it is not automatically provided.
If you receive an unauthorized text message instructing you to reply "STOP" to avoid receiving a monthly charge, call your wireless carrier to verify that doing so will actually stop the crammed charges.
Ask your carrier about blocking options, including the ability to block "premium" messaging or to block all text messages received from the internet, as opposed to from another wireless user.
Be very careful about entering your cell phone number online. Make sure that you carefully read the fine print before giving out your number.
Unauthorized texts or crammed charges can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) and/or the Consumer Protection Unit of the Delaware Department of Justice (call 1-800-220-5424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org). Please include as much information as possible about the unsolicited messages and/or charges.
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