How to avoid being crammed

Written by David McDonough

Cramming Some consumers are being billed for telephone services they did not order. This practice is called “cramming” and it affects telephone consumers nationwide.

“Cramming” occurs when a customer receives a telephone bill, usually rendered byrepparttar local exchange company, that includes charges for products or services that he or she did not order. The charge for these services is usually between $3 and $30. However, there have been instances where “cramming” has amounted to more than $100 in additional charges.

Examples of “cramming” charges include: Charges for calls that were not made byrepparttar 127545 consumer or that were placed to toll-free numbers

Charges for services that are explained in general terms, such as “voicemail,” “paging service,” “calling plan” or “membership service”

Charges simply identified as a “monthly fee”

Why does it happen? Local telephone companies serve as billing agents for many long-distance companies and other service providers. Invalid or unclear charges occur when inaccurate billing data (either by oversight or by intent) is provided torepparttar 127546 local telephone company via computer tape. The local telephone company then bills consumers for these calls or services.

Be Aware of Phishing Scams!

Written by Nowshade Kabir

If you use emails actively in your communication, you must have received various messages claiming to be from Ebay, Paypal and a number of banks. A recent email as if from U.S. Bank Corporation that I received containsrepparttar subject "U.S. Bank Fraud Verification Process" and inrepparttar 127544 body ofrepparttar 127545 mail it says "We recently reviewed your account, and suspect that your U.S. Bank Internet Banking account may have been accessed by an unauthorized third party. Protectingrepparttar 127546 security of your account and ofrepparttar 127547 U.S. Bank network is our primary concern. Therefore, as a preventative measure, we have temporarily limited access to sensitive account features. To restore your account access, please takerepparttar 127548 following steps to ensure that your account has not been compromised:". It continues with a link to a webpage, which looks very similar to original web page ofrepparttar 127549 bank.

The misleading web site appears authentic with familiar graphics and logos. The wordings are professional right down torepparttar 127550 legal disclaimer atrepparttar 127551 bottom ofrepparttar 127552 page.

If you happened to be holding an account ofrepparttar 127553 claimed bank, followedrepparttar 127554 instructions ofrepparttar 127555 email and input your account, pin, password, etc. you are doomed. You just have handed over access to your account to a con artist, who, in a matter of days, will drain off allrepparttar 127556 money available in that account.

This new scam, which is proliferating in a very rapid pace, is called "Phishing". Phishing is a form of identity theft, where a con artist withrepparttar 127557 help of official looking email containing link to phony web pages capable of harvesting information, tricks an unsuspecting victim into divulging sensitive personal data. Scammers use these data to bilk victims out of their savings.

One ofrepparttar 127558 most common phishing campaigns being waged has targeted users of Web auction giant eBay and its PayPal division with financial services giant Citibank serving as another popular target. However, recently, every major bank has been hit with this scam. Crooks send out huge amounts of emails with an expectation that some of these email address owners may have online access to their accounts atrepparttar 127559 bank.

The term "Phishing" is a deviation ofrepparttar 127560 word "Fishing". In hackers’ lexicon, in many words, "F" becomes "Ph". The term derives fromrepparttar 127561 fact that scammers use sophisticated bait as they "fish" for users’ personal information.

According to Gartner, a research firm, illegal access to checking accounts gained via phishing has become intorepparttar 127562 fastest growing type of consumer theft inrepparttar 127563 United States. Roughly 1.98 million people reported that their checking account was breached in one way or another duringrepparttar 127564 last year and US$ 2.4 billion were defrauded fromrepparttar 127565 victims!

Gartner also estimated that 57 million U.S. Internet users have received phishing emails and 3 percent of them may have fooled into revealing their personal sensitive information.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group has also spotted a dramatic increase in reports of phishing attacks in recent months. Since November, 2003 phishing scams increase by about 110 percent each month. In April alone,repparttar 127566 group identified 1125 unique phishing scams, a sharp lift of 178 percent fromrepparttar 127567 previous month.

MessageLabs, a company that watches phishing scams closely, has noted an even more dramatic increase in number of phishing emails. It claims to see phishing messages jump from just 279 in September, 2003 to a staggering 215,643 in March of 2004.

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