Text messages never before seemed like any kind of a threat since I have “unlimited messaging” but there’s a new way they could be!
I hardly ever use my phone in general and text messages in particular. I have an ancient phone which I can almost never find when I need it. And admittedly I am definitely not “up to date” with the technological advances in phone technology. My husband and I will joke with each other when we need some tidbit of information in the car… saying “just look that up on your phone” but of course we don’t have a phone that can even come close to doing anything like that.
The text message I received seemed harmless — somebody from a ringtone place saying that I was signed up for as many free ringtones as I wanted — or something like that. I ignored it right along with the ones from the local Wawa or Kwik Chek which offers me a deal on a sandwich or a coffee. I never respond to any of them and quite honestly, they pile up as messages for quite some time before I even get to open my phone to know I have them. That’s right I don’t use my phone every day. I almost never can find it when it rings, and I certainly don’t use one of those unique ringtones. However, I have to admit “emergency” cases have come up over the years and I am glad I have one — I just am not that connected to it.
So imagine my surprise when the next month on my phone bill I discover at charge for $9.99. I haven’t a clue what it is, and why it’s there. I think it’s because I pushed the wrong number into my phone when trying to use it, I think I might have some sort of feature I don’t know about and activated it by mistake. What I do know is that I don’t want it, whatever it is and I sure don’t want to pay $9.99 for it.
Yes, it turns out it’s a ringtone scam. They find your cell number by “any means they can” and then they send you a message about having been signed up for free and unlimited ringtones. If you do not respond with “STOP” – you get charged $9.99 a month as an access fee to this “free unlimited ringtone” service. Now you never asked for this, you have no clue why they called your number, but they will bill you as a third party biller through your cell phone service provider for it, each and every month until you cancel it.
We caught ours the first month, because we read our bills and yes, try to figure out and make sense of any odd charges, or unexpected balance. Anyone on an automatic payment deduction from their bank account each month, might not notice or care or think about this $9.99. Many would actually just “assume” their plan or the taxes attached to their plan went up….and this is how and why this particular scam works so well.
So while you can’t hide your cell number from these new thieves – you can check your bill and make sure you aren’t one of their victims. Our provider was happy to provide the short code to send a ‘stop” message to this company on the same phone the message was originally sent to, and even waited till I received a confirmation on the phone from them. She removed the charge off my bill — and per my request blocked all premium services like this one from my phone. You may not be able to block premium services as I know many of you use them every day – but you can and should make sure that you aren’t a victim to this type of scam.