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Consumer

Cell Phone Companies Agree To Warn Customers Who Near Contract Limits

(File photo.  Credit: Ed Fischer)

(File photo. Credit: Ed Fischer)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - It can be a tense moment: ripping open your monthly cell phone bill to see the damage.

But a new agreement by the wireless companies and the federal government should lessen the dread.

“You only signed up for 50 MB, and because you used 300 MB you’ve been charged overage charges of $900 — that’s bill shock,” says Sascha Segan, the lead mobile analyst at PCMag.com.

He says the major wireless providers have previously offered alerts if you’re approaching “E” on your data, voice minutes, or text tank — but you had to opt-in.  And most people didn’t sign up because it’s harder than it should be.

But over the next couple years, that’ll change thanks to a new pact between the companies and the FCC.

“Instead of being opt-in, the services will now be opt-out,” says Segan.  “So, by default, you’ll start getting text messages or phone calls if you start going up to your billing limit.”

It’s something, he says, the carriers should have been doing all along — instead of giving in under the threat of more government regulation.

But  continue to check your own minutes, messages and megabytes for now — the cell companies say it could take two years to get systems up and running to support the change.

Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060

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