Cell phone charges catch family off guard

September 5, 2011 2:08:35 PM PDT
An Apex family is warning others about checking their cell phone bill after charges caught them off guard.

Robin Marchand said she decided to get a pre-paid Virgin Mobile cell phone for her teenage son.

"We bought this phone because we thought it was a good way to manage the phone charges for my son," she said.

She said they would load whatever amount of money they wanted on the account and her son had access to his phone.

"We noticed his balance dropped really quickly so we was pretty sure he didn't make too many texts and calls," Marchand said.

She said when they went online and checked the account activity; they discovered two charges for $9.99.

"When we looked at the bill we saw there was no originating number associated with those charges and it just said extras," Marchand said.

They called Virgin Mobile who did credit them for the charges, but told them they came from third party companies.

"They can text you and if you don't reply STOP they can charge you," Marchand said.

A month later, they encountered the same charge.

"We went out of the country for three weeks and my son left his phone here as it doesn't work out of the country and when we got back we noticed the balance we topped up was gone," Marchand said. "Once again we went online and saw two charges for $9.99 no originating number associate with it."

They called Virgin Mobile again, and once again the charges were credited, but Marchand said she wished she could put a stop to the companies being able to do this all together.

"Some way you can block all these types calls and not be concerned if you miss a text message you're not going to be able to respond with the word STOP in time before these charges start," she said.

A rep with Virgin Mobile said there are ways to prevent those types of charges, customers can have data services removed from their phones or block all short codes, which are the number in which the company sends a text or you can also block just specific codes.

Marchand said her best advice; make sure you monitor account activity.

A rep with Virgin also added that typically those types of charges originate from a customer going to a website of a company that sends texts and reviews.

Therefore, they suggest that if you get an unwanted text message, reply STOP.

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