Big Wireless Carriers On The Hook For Fraudulent Charges - What Else Are You Not Watching?

Sprint phone services has agreed to a $68 million settlement and Verizon Wireless has a $90 million settlement to pay customers who were "crammed" on their cell phone bills, according to an announcement in late May. Cell phone cramming usually involves a monthly fee of $9.99 for premium text message subscription services like horoscopes, trivia and sports scores. Basically, these large carriers were not watching their customer's bills closely enough, allowing vendors to have access to consumers' wireless accounts. This resulted in "cramming" of customers' cell phone bills. In many cases, people did not know they were signing up for these services.

Is this all just the carrier's fault? No, some of the blame has to be the unscrupulous merchants who, in some cases, only needed consumers' phone numbers to cram illegitimate charges onto wireless bills. However, a small portion of the blame has to be on the customer who was not checking their bill for fraudulent charges. The customer had "the fox guard the henhouse" when they assumed the carrier was reviewing their bill for fraudulent charges. It wasn't until all the chickens were missing that customers started looking at the fox.

It's easy to leave it up to others to do the right thing, and that generally works for most people. We should trust those that bill us and fight for our customer loyalty by giving us the best deal for the service, right? That doesn't always work out.

Unfortunately, many take this same approach with their Estate Plans. For some people, this works. However, many issues may surface after you sign your Estate Plan due to changes to tax laws, survivorship laws, your family circumstances, just to name a few examples. With your Estate Plan, fraudulent charges are not the issue, but improper outcomes for your family due to an outdated Estate Plan are the issue. Your Estate Plan may not accurately reflect your desires many years after you initially signed those documents.

In a constantly changing environment, it is common to have an Estate Plan become outdated over time. Most issues can avoided with periodic reviews of your Estate Plan. Like cell phone "cramming", correcting your Estate Plan is more difficult after the fact. For example, litigation over a Will between family members after a death in the family is costly, time consuming, and fosters bad relations among family members. Fortunately, such situations can be avoided with proper reviews of your Estate Plan.

Contact us at Carlson & Burnett LLP to update your Estate Plan. Don't be caught with a smiling fox with feathers in his mouth and no chickens in your henhouse.

Information from article from Tribune Media Wire, 5/12/15 "If you have Verizon or Sprint cell service, you may be owed a refund"

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