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Got slammed (or crammed) by ESBI & “EMAIL DISCOUNTS, LLC”

with 5 comments

Update 11:19 PM

Called ESBI who connected me to “Email Discounts LLC”. They said that “my wife”
signed up for their service using Yahoo email account. I informed them that she does not have a account. They said they canceled the
account. I voluntarily gave them my gmail account for confirmation of cancellation–I figure Google is pretty good about spam–but maybe that’s what their really after.
They said that all charges (including taxes) would be reimbursed and no further
charges would occur because the account was canceled. We’ll see.

Original Post

My monthly bill from AT&T was unusually high this month. My father-in-law (who works for AT&T) warned me about this.

In the bill, I find a section under the heading “Enhanced Services Billing, Inc.” with a logo:



(account information)

Billing Date Mar 22, 2009
Questions? 1-888-288-3724

Below this, the following is written:

Important Information

This portion of your AT&T bill is provided as a service
to the above company. Please review all charges
carefully – they may include those of a service
provider not shown on a previous bill. Unpaid accounts
may be subject to collection action. Other services may also be
restricted if not paid. If you have questions about any
of the charges appearing on this page, please call the
number shown above.

The bills themselves are:

For billing questions call 1-800-410-5781

Rest assured they were not authorized.

Further research on the web indicates that ESBI is associated with fraudulent charges on numerous telephone bills (see the comments). Guess I’ll have to call them tomorrow to get my money back.

It amazes me that in a time when households are watching every dime, no one is doing anything about this fraud.

Written by PoojanWagh

March 26th, 2009 at 10:59 pm

5 Responses to 'Got slammed (or crammed) by ESBI & “EMAIL DISCOUNTS, LLC”'

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  1. Just found the same thing on my phone bill on a fax line. My charge was $15.25! Frontier refunded the two months and put a block on the line. Call AT&T, I’m sure they will do the same. Frontier suggested I call ESBI. When I tried, it kept wanting me to put in a Phone # which I didn’t want to do so I just entered 4 random numbers and it accepted and put me through to a person who you could tell was in another country and reading a script. Bogus!


    1 Apr 09 at 10:54 am

  2. BSG is a local exchange carrier (“LEC”) clearinghouse, not a telephone company or telephone service provider. BSG is simply the billing clearinghouse, not the initiator of any charges. BSG forwards charges for services provided by various long distance, operator service, and digital content providers to local phone companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Qwest to be included consumers’ local telephone bills.
    BSG’s customers (vendors NOT consumers) include long distance, operator service and enhanced service providers that offer valuable services to millions of consumers across the nation. As a result, BSG enables competition in the long-distance, operator service, and digital content markets by providing consumers with service provider alternatives at highly competitive rates.
    It is important to note that before BSG accepts a service provider as a customer, BSG subjects the service provider and its officers and directors to a comprehensive due diligence process. This process includes extensive product review, background checks, and site visits.
    If the service provider becomes a customer of BSG, then BSG monitors the number of end user inquiries each service provider receives each month. BSG may require the service provider to cease billing or terminate the service provider based on performance.
     Here is the typical transaction flow for most services:
    o Service provider markets its service to a consumer.
    o Service provider must obtain consumer’s consent through third-party verification (“TPV”) recording or electronic letter of authorization (“LOA”).
    o Service provider validates information provided in the consent to ensure charge is authorized.
    o Service provider sends charge to BSG.
    o BSG sends charge to appropriate phone company (because BSG holds the contract with the phone companies the charge will appear on ESBI, USBI, ZPDI, OAN, or HBS page of local telephone bill. This is often where confusion comes in. Consumers will note that the actual VENDOR from whom the charge is coming is typically printed right below ESBI’s information.)
    o Phone company includes charge on appropriate consumer’s bill page.
    o Consumer pays telephone bill.
    o Phone company deducts amounts for fees, refunds, and reserves and then remits balance to BSG.
    o BSG deducts amounts for fees, refunds, and reserves and then remits balance to service provider.
    (Note: If the charge is for a long distance, collect call, or 1010XXX call, then the service provider will have a record of the call actually taking place on the network. The record of the call is called a “switch record.”)
    While no company in any payment industry can ensure the elimination of fraud, BSG has done more to prevent fraud in the third-party billing industry than any other company.
    Should a consumer find a charge on their bill that they did not authorize, we recommend they start at the source by first trying to remedy the issue with the service provider. If they don’t get relief, they can then contact BSG at:
    (800) 460-0756 for ZPDI
    (800) 460-0556 for USBI
    (800) 460-0078 for ESBI
    (800) 604-4653 for HBS
    (800) 944-9646 for ACI/OAN
    One note is that – because charges billed through BSG do require valid authorization – in only rare instances a vendor charge is made in error. (Could be the consumer doesn’t recognize the charge because it is being billed through BSG; a spouse made a charge without notifying their partner, or the consumer simply forgot). That said, BSG is happy to help consumers clear up any questions they may have.

    Leslie Ausburn

    27 Feb 10 at 11:18 am

  3. Well, thanks for the information, Leslie. Can you verify that these procedures were in place when the incident occurred?
    I understand that you have policies and procedures to reduce fraud. However, the fact is that in my case, the operator on the phone said that the charges were authorized through my yahoo account. Which happened to be first name + last name @yahoo.com. Except no one in our house has a Yahoo account.
    We do, however, subscribe to a Yahoo news group. I suspect that someone at the company saw a posting to a public Yahoo newsgroup and figured that first+last name @yahoo.com was a likely email address, and they could get away with validation.
    I see no value as a consumer of AT&T’s service to allowing additional purchases to be placed on my phone bill. If I want to pay a merchant, there are plenty of more convenient and more verifiable ways of doing it.
    Incidently, I never did get a refund.


    7 Mar 10 at 12:01 am

  4. same for me- was charged for 9 months by EMAIL DISCOUNTS, LLC, before I caught it. I travel alot and don’t pay close enough attention as I should. After calling EMAIL DISCOUNTS, LLC, they agreed to reimburse 6 months only. Later AT&T s will cover an additional 2 months.

    What a rip-off this is. I think AT&T is a much to blame for letting this go on.


    3 Apr 10 at 12:00 am

  5. I was charged $16.30 a month for 9 months on my AT&T bill.

    AT&T would only refund two payments and I have yet to receive credit for the other 7 from ESBI. This has been going on since the last century and in 2001 ESBI were fined $350,000 by the FTC for this same scam. AT&T is fully aware this is a scam and profit from it. Why are ESBI and AT&T not charged under the RICO act. This is an interstate criminal fraud ring making millions and millions from poor people. DEMAND ONE LAW FOR ALL. Put these criminals in jail (fines are a joke).

    Spread the word and write to your State rep today.

    Mark Hanau

    3 Nov 10 at 12:51 am

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