Barnett warns consumers to review phone bills

Barnett warns consumers to review phone bills Attorney General Mark Barnett is asking South Dakota consumers to carefully inspect their telephone bills for unauthorized charges.

"We're currently investigating a company that we believe is illegally billing small businesses throughout the state for Internet home pages they didn't order," Barnett said.

The scam usually begins when a telemarketer contacts a small business or consumer and offers a "free" 30-day home page trial offer. After the initial contact, the company will then bill the small business owner up to $30 per month on their phone bill. The charge will generally appear in the "Additional Goods & Services" section of the bill.

"Most consumers just pay their bill and don't review it carefully to assure the charges are legitimate," Barnett said. "We've already found over 100 victims in this case alone."

Barnett offers the following tips to help consumers avoid billing scams:

* Always use caution when telemarketers call. Don't authorize services you don't need or want, and be careful of "free trial offers."

* Small business owners should make sure only one employee talks with salesmen or telemarketers. That person should then note with whom they spoke and the date of the call.

* Review your telephone bills carefully. Sometimes bills are large and complicated but make sure all charges are legitimate and have been authorized.

Barnett's warning came as part of his Scam of the Month campaign, which was introduced this year is an effort to educate South Dakotans on consumer issues, current scams, and prevention techniques.

Consumers with questions or complaints regarding similar scams or with tips on new scams are encouraged to call the Consumer Helpline at 1-800-300-1986.

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