When reviewing a copy of this month's phone bill (Qwest) I noticed ESBI (third party billing) charges. I used to work for Qwest as a Customer Service Agent so I knew immediately what the charges were and how they got onto my bill. These communications companies pull what is called a cram and slam. A cram and slam happens when you do not have a specific long distance carrier selected for your services or you agree to take a survey or whathaveyou, if you attempt to make a long distance call whether or not the call connects, on a line that does NOT have a primary long distance carrier specified you end up doing a dial around and it allows ANY telecommunication carrier to attach to that line and bill you, it is ILLEGAL if you do NOT agree to a 3rd party verification process.
I handled more of these billing calls while I worked for Qwest than I care to rehash, but let me just say that it is more common than one would think. Luckily I can easily get the charges removed from my bill by disputing them with Qwest but stopping the company that is billing them to my account remains to be seen. Once you contact the company, it is generally a 2-3 bill process for the charges to stop altogether once they have been disputed.
My best advice for ANY one who has any kind of telephone service is do not agree to take a survey unless you take down the contact information of the company/person conducting the survey and secondly, if you have telephone service, even if you do not use long distance, select a primary carrier, that will prevent a cram and slam from happening in most instances.