3rd Party Billing charges occur because incumbent carriers (local phone companies, like AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon) and mobile phone companies act as billing agents for outside organizations. These can be legitimate charges, for instance, when an individual pledges funds to a charity or cause by texting a number from that person’s mobile phone.
When a 3rd party charge is not legitimate it is a form of cramming. Cramming takes place when a charge is applied to your phone or mobile phone bill for a service that you didn’t request, authorize or receive.
Crammers hope that businesses and individuals will simply pay their phone bills without reviewing them beforehand. They disguise their charges with confusing titles that often include the term “voicemail”. If a charge is spotted the first time it appears on a bill, it can be easily removed. But if a few months go by, it can become increasingly difficult to receive all the deserved bill credits.
Here are four ways to prevent cramming:
Read and review all your business phone and mobile phone bills before sending a payment. If you notice a charge for an unusual or perplexing service, investigate. You can call your provider’s customer service number but many times they will instruct you to contact the third party directly. Typically the third party will remove the charge without argument. This is a simple process if only a few bills need to be reviewed each month. It becomes a daunting task when a business has multiple locations and receives numerous bills from more then one provider.
Contact your provider and have them add a bill block to prevent all third party billing charges. All the major carriers, AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink, offer such a block. Again, this sounds simple, but if you’re operating a larger business with multiple locations and service providers, this task could be difficult and time consuming.
Use Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs). CLECs compete with the incumbent phone companies. They don’t provide third party billing services so cramming should never be an issue.
Use a POTS Aggregator. POTS Aggregators have resale agreements with the majority of incumbent carriers operating in the United States. They make it possible for a multi location company to consolidate its POTS or business phone line inventory. Instead of receiving numerous phone bills from multiple providers, a multi location company can receive one bill and receive a single point of contact for customer service. POTS Aggregators don’t enter into third party billing arrangements.
If you would like help implementing any of the above solutions or with any other telecom service, please contact CarrierBid telecom consulting today or complete the form on the right side of this page.