What’s this Charge on my Phone Bill

I recently received a statement from the phone company that provides my residential telephone service.  Because I’ve signed up for automatic payment (“auto pay”) for this account, I pay close attention to bills received to ensure that no improper charges are assessed.  My current bill shows a charge from a third party – something I never ordered and don’t want, from a firm I’ve never heard of.

When I contacted my phone company’s billing department about this charge, I explained that this was an unwarranted charge and that I had not ordered the service (an on-going monthly thing), didn’t want it, and did not want to pay for it.  The phone company representative agreed to credit me for the charge and recommended that I “put a block” on the account to prohibit third-party charges.

I asked the representative why that should be necessary.  Surely no third party was authorized to add anything to my account or expect payment for anything unless I had requested it.  The representative referred to an FCC ruling some years back that made it mandatory that the phone companies permit third parties to offer services for which billing would come through the phone companies’ regular statements to their customers.

I spent a little of the representative’s time, and mine, arguing that to “offer services” is one thing, while billing for unwanted services is another.  I then moved on to his recommendation that I add a block to my account to avoid third-party charges.  I asked, “What is required to put this block on my account, in accord with your recommendation, and is there a charge for applying the block?”  The rep said all that was required was my verbal request for the blockage, and there was no cost involved.

So, naturally, I asked that my account be amended to show that I request blockage of all third-party charges.  He confirmed that this was done.

The reader may want to consider contacting his or her phone company’s billing department to ask whether a third party can bill for products or service, putting the charges on the bill from your phone company.  If the answer is “Yes,” you may feel it is useful to request that your phone company reflect your request for a blockage of third-party charges on your account so that you won’t be the victim of charges from some fraudulent vender who is taking advantage of you by billing, through your phone company, for something you didn’t order, don’t want, and for which you do not wish to pay every month along with your telephone bill.