There was an interesting article in the 6/25/2010 New York Times that "The F.C.C. is studying a measure similar to one enacted in Europe, in which cellphone users would be notified if they neared a certain limit on their bills." (Note: I would normally put a link to the article but the NY Times seems to dislike this for some reason - their loss). Essentially folks get their phones stolen or in the case of the new smartphones run up huge data and phone charges by not understanding when (or how) they are being billed. Apparently this has happened enough in Europe that the EU has passed legislation that puts a 'cap' on a subscribers phone bill where the carriers have to notify the subscriber and or stop service once the bill has passed a subscriber determined maximum. Really?
It's bad enough that the problem is created by the carriers in the first place obviously credit card companies have no problem cutting off cards on suspicious usage because they are the ones that are going to end up eating the loss if any. So why are the carriers getting a free pass here? It's their problem if they can't see that usage more than two or three times higher than 'average' (or $18000 phone in service charges instead of $260.00) for a subscriber warrants a phone call to the subscriber then let them eat the cost.
Consumers also share some blame here too - prepaid service is available for pretty much any phone- once your last dime has been spent you have no service until you put money in the kitty (which can be a 30 second phone call). Prepaid works for me, I switched about six months ago and in fact it ends up being cheaper since I no longer have a monthly fixed-price-use-it-or-not phone bill. I just add minutes when I need them and the minutes don't expire for a year and I will never have an $18,000 phone bill no matter what happens to my phone.