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Modem Hijacking is a form of “high-tech cramming*” that can potentially cost a consumer hundreds of dollars and could happen if you use a dial-up service for Internet access. The most common way this occurs is when the consumer visits a Website, clicks in a “pop-up” window, or opens an e-mail which downloads a dialer program or virus into the user’s computer. The program or virus then disconnects the modem from the local connection number and reconnects it to an expensive long distance number (such as a “900” or international number). The consumer frequently does not find out about the problem until receiving his or her telephone bill.
As with other forms of phone fraud, the most important way to prevent modem hijacking is to read your telephone bill carefully and keep copies of previous bills. Consumers can also take a number of preventative steps, both online and offline.
When buying a new computer or new software, or performing regular maintenance:
When online and using a dial-up connection:
If you believe you are a victim of modem hijacking, contact your local phone company and your Internet service provider immediately. If you believe improper charges have been added to your telephone bill and you suspect cramming, contact the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission toll-free at 1-800-851-4268.
It is important to read your monthly telephone bills carefully and keep copies of all bills showing fraudulent charges, copies of all written correspondence related to the problem, and detailed notes on all correspondence with the companies you contact.
More information regarding telephone fraud – including slamming and cramming prevention tips, along with steps to take if you believe you’ve been slammed or crammed – is available on the OUCC Website at no charge. Consumers can also call the OUCC toll-free at 1-888-441-2494 to request free copies of the agency’s consumer publications.
* Telephone cramming is defined as the addition of charges to a consumer’s phone bill for services he or she did not authorize. Slamming occurs when a customer’s service is switched to a new provider without authorization. Both are violations of Indiana law (IC 8-1-29).
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the state agency representing the interests of utility consumers and the general public in matters related to the provision of utility services. The OUCC is active in proceedings before regulatory and legal bodies and is committed to giving consumers a voice in the creation of utility service policy.
OpenLines publications are produced by the OUCC to educate consumers on their rights and responsibilities regarding utility services. Fact sheets on many telecommunications and other utility topics are available free of charge. All OpenLines publications are available on the OUCC Web site or by calling the OUCC Consumer Services Staff.
This OpenLines publication is a public service of the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) in conjunction with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), AT&T Indiana and Verizon.
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204