Ah, for the days when phone slammers had to actually call you in order to enroll you in services you don’t want. P.W. tells Consumerist that he received a few texts from an unknown shortcode number, most likely wrote them off as spam, and ignored them. Until he noticed a mysterious $10 charge on his phone bill.
Today I happened to notice at the very end of my AT&T wireless bill, a charge of 9.99 for something called “Love Alerts”… it seemed to indicate that my NEXT charge would be on 1/16/2011. Since I have never received any “Love Alerts” and never wanted any, and frankly had no idea what they were, I called AT&T. Within a minute I was connected to a nice cheerful young fellow, and I proceeded to explain my problem. This young man acted as though this was a frequent and routine complaint.
Now I had looked at the date of this charge and had gone back through my text messages to see if there was anything I might have responded to that could have caused this charge… there was nothing. But when this young man looked at his end he noticed that this was the SECOND month I was being charged for this bogus service.
He was excellent. He refunded both charges, and set up a purchase block for me. Nothing can be purchased by texting from my phone without a code number being entered. So, hopefully, this won’t happen again.
But now that I knew that I had been charged for two months, I went back in my texts to the 16th of the previous month. There were 3 messages from number “340-95″ Two of them informed me that I had enrolled in this service, and what I had to do to “opt out”, and one message looked like it was part of a conversation… except it was a conversation I never had and have no idea what it was about. (enclosed is a screen capture from my iPhone)
I am assuming the middle text was one of the “Love texts” I was charged $10.00 for.
My advice is that if you see a text message like this (and I did but just ignored it), contact your provider and make sure you aren’t somehow signed up for something without any action or consent on your part.
It’s not a bad idea to have purchase blocking put on your mobile account in general – especially if you’re on a family plan with anyone who is less scam-savvy than most Consumerist readers.