Saturday, August 9, 2014

How Cell Towers Avoid Paying Property Taxes

Montgomery County, MD, parents and taxpayers took a good look at  a special exception application filed by T-Mobile in 2005 to build a cell tower on the Julius West Middle School playground.  Here is what they learned:

From the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County:  
 "Look at the box (circled in red) that calls for the applicant to write in a tax account number. The numbers on this application are for the property owner, the Montgomery County Board of Education. The Board of Education is exempt from paying property taxes, T-Mobile is not.  
"By using the Board of Education's tax account number cell tower vendors have avoided paying property taxes on cell towers erected on public school land."

Isn't that nice to know?  The BOE is interested in helping out a huge company so that they do no have to pay a property tax bill.  Will they do that for you?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stop Paying For Crammed Charges on Your Mobile Bill!

A helpful bit of information from your friendly FTC:

July 29, 2014
by Cristina Miranda
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

If you are budget-conscious, you’re probably great at tracking where your money goes every month. You pore over receipts, take advantage of sales, and even research prices on big-ticket items to save the most. So how often do you review your mobile phone bill for fraudulent charges that could be draining your wallet?

As part of ongoing enforcement actions to stop alleged mobile crammers, the FTC recently charged MDK Media, Inc., Tendenci Media, LLC, Mindkontrol Industries, LLC., Anacapa Media, LLC., Bear Communications, LLC., and Network One Commerce, LLC., text message content providers, with cramming unauthorized subscription charges onto consumers’ mobile phone bills for random texts to the tune of up to $9.99 a month. The texts included daily horoscopes, romance advice, quizzes or ring tones that consumers never knowingly asked to receive – or agreed to pay for.

How did the s-crammers do this? The FTC alleges they tricked consumers two ways:

  1. by getting people to enter their mobile phone number into deceptive and fictitious websites with fuzzy usage terms in exchange for collecting freebies, playing games or taking quizzes;
  2. by purchasing lists of mobile phone numbers and automatically entering the numbers into subscription services without contacting consumers or letting them know.

Here’s how to spot charges crammed on to your mobile bill:

  • Read your monthly phone bill – every page, every month. Regularly review your phone bill to catch charges that are tacked on without your knowledge or consent. Cramming charges can be buried deep within the pages of your bill, making them tough to find or understand. Contact your carrier directly if you have questions about a charge.
  • Strange or unsolicited text messages that suddenly appear on your phone could be signs of a cram. If you suddenly get a text offering any type of daily advice that you never signed up for, consider it a red flag that you’re being charged for something you didn't authorize.
  • Think twice about entering your mobile phone number or personal information on any website. Certain websites exist to serve as collection baskets for mobile phone numbers; they trick you into providing your number with free offers or access to online entertainment. This can put your money – as well as your privacy or identity – at risk.
  • Delete text messages you don’t want and never click on the links. Text messages that ask you to enter special codes, or to confirm or provide personal information could lead you to spoof sites that look real but could steal your money and identity.

Report spam texts to your carrier. Copy the original message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM) free of charge, if you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint subscriber.