Phony Cell Phone Bill Charges

Like many of you, I get my cell phone bills on the the internet.  A little email comes that says "Your bill is available to view online" and then the payment is automatically debited from my account on the due date.  It is an efficient system and it ensures that my bill is always paid on time. 

However, I admit that I don't always open the bill and look at it closely.  As long as the number looks about right, I will think, "I'll check that later," and later rarely comes.

On a fluke, I recently checked my cell phone bill and was really irritated to discover that there has been a odd $9.99 charge on the last few bills.  I called the cell phone carrier and was told that it was something I had signed up for online.  I had my account set up to refuse these type of charges and then called the company making the charges.  It seems that I had responded to a Facebook IQ challenge from a friend and had been provided the PIN to get my score via a text message.  According to the company representative, further in the text message was some language stating that if I used the PIN number, I would be signing up for their $10 a month service, billed to my cell phone bill.  Seriously?

Three lessons I've gotten from this:

  1. Always read your cell phone bill.  Every month.  Even if it looks right.  (Duh.)  Call your company immediately if you find errors or unauthorized charges.
  2. Don't use your cell phone for purposes that you don't full understand.
  3. As your carrier if you can put a block on your account to prevent such deceptive charges from occuring in the first place.


There's also a fourth lesson:  Even if the Facebook IQ says you are smart, you're probably not as smart as you think you are!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.