How Cramming Affects Your Company's Bottom Line
NEWS ANALYSIS: It's easy to dismiss the mysterious random small charges that show up on cell phone bills, but cramming could be a significant tax on your company's costs, and it's only getting worse with BYOD.Chances are you never look at the detail in those small charges that show up on the cell phone bills your employees submit as part of your company's bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program. But those charges are there if you look, and while they may be small, taken together "cramming" can really add up. For most people, a charge of under $2 and labeled something like "Voicemail" or "Internet Surcharge" isn't something to turn into a priority requiring follow-up. But maybe it should be. In an announcement last week, the four major wireless carriers in the United States said that they're dropping Premium Short Message Service (SMS) support as a way to crack down on cramming. "Cramming," if you haven't heard the term before, refers to unauthorized third-party charges that are placed on phone bills as a way to defraud consumers. Cramming has been a problem for years on landlines, ever since carriers were allowed to collect money for services through phone bills. While many third-party charges for services are legitimate, there's little effective regulation on them beyond consumer complaints, and as a result scammers can rack up billions of dollars a few bucks at a time. The problem has moved on to wireless carriers, where the easiest way to accomplish such a charge is to claim that the phone owner has sent a premium message.
These messages in themselves aren't illegal. In fact, they're a common fundraising method for charities, where you'll often see a request to send a text to a five-digit number to make a donation. But this method of billing also provides a conduit for extracting funds from people who aren't paying attention to their bills.