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When Your Prepaid Phone Card Rips You Off


Prepaid phone cards are affordable communication tools people use daily for making domestic or overseas calls. These cards are advertised in newspapers and magazines, and can easily be purchased at convenience stores, malls and even at the post office.

Consumers can also order these cards over the phone and pay with a credit or debit card. Many prepaid phone cards are sold on the Internet, and the mode of payment is also through a credit or a debit card.

These cards are sold in different monetary denominations, depending on the minutes available on the card. These cards however, are not free of errors, and some have even been noted to rip-off consumers by not having the exact number of call minutes advertised on the card, and some even defraud consumers by not allowing them to make overseas calls, or by dumping lots of unadvertised fees and additional charges to unsuspecting customers.

Tips In Avoiding Prepaid Phone Card Fraud

In order to ensure that the card you buy gives you the best value for money, do these important safety tips. First, ask your phone card company to issue a card that does not have your PIN on it. Memorize the PIN and do not write it on the card.

In addition, do not reveal your calling card number and PIN to anyone who might use it to make calls without your permission. When placing calls in public, put your hand over the keypad of the phone while entering your number, or speak softly when giving it to an operator. Be on the lookout for anyone who might be trying to look at your card, or overhear your number and PIN.

Never give your phone card number to a stranger who calls you, or you could consider using a prepaid or debit card to make calls when you're traveling. Whenever you encounter problems on your phone bill or suspect phone fraud, call your local phone company and the company that is billing you for the questionable charges. Ask your local phone company to advise you on which law enforcement or regulatory agencies you should seek assistance

How To Report Prepaid Phone Card Fraud

Whenever you encounter these types of fraud, your state public utilities commission, or public service commission would be a good place to start filing complaints. Check out the nearest public utilities agency in the state government pages of your local yellow pages, or visit the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' Web site for a list of all state agencies, including your state attorney general's office and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

One way to verify the quality of an unfamiliar prepaid phone card or company, is to first buy a small denomination phone card, and see how it initially works. Never accept a card in which the scratch-off covering on the Personal Identification Number (PIN) has already been removed, or one that does not show the terms and conditions of the card. Most phone cards offer taped instructions in many languages aside from English, so before purchasing a prepaid phone card, ensure that it has the required language.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

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