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Avoid Cell Phone “Bill Shock”

Have you ever received your mobile phone bill and discovered that the amount due was much higher than you were expecting?

Well, you are not alone.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “bill shock” is relatively common. The amount of extra costs can range from mild (less than $50 extra dollars) to the extreme (in the $1,000s).

Regardless of the level, the bill shock can hurt your wallet.

Bill shock can result from several circumstances. For many years, cell phone owners’ main concern was not to exceed the minutes of talking and the number of text messages. However, smartphones require dataplans to access the internet and download apps, and you may be limited to the amount of data you can download each month.

New smartphone users may have higher than normal bills as they get familiar with the costs of having a data plan. Changes in your usage patterns, talking more frequently, sending more text messages, or roaming (use a signal from another phone carrier), could all contribute to a higher than expected bill.

Right now, mobile phone providers are not required to take action to prevent bill shock, but you can reduce the likelihood of “bill shock” with these guidelines:

  • Make sure you understand the advertising and marketing claims about the monthly cost of your plan. No matter the advertised price, you will also be charged taxes and fees.
  • Be wary of promises from sales clerks and customer service representatives. Get all promises of free phone lines, dataplans, or other features in writing.
  • Sign up for your service provider’s account monitoring features, such as text message warnings or online monitoring site.
  • Make sure your phone is set to inform you that you are roaming.
  • Consider a prepaid or an unlimited data, voice, and text plan to prevent overages.
  • While apps are easy to buy, those charges can add up quickly, and end up on your phone bill. Password protect the ability to download apps, especially if you have children that are on your phone plans.

Try to resolve your billing concerns with your service provider. If this does not work, file a complaint with the FCC online or by calling 1-888-225-5322. For more tips on avoiding bill shock, visit the FCC’s website.

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