The Citizens Utility Board reports that metro-east cellphone customers are overpaying by more than $306 million a year for wireless service and Illinois residents are wasting $1.4 billion.
New research released Tuesday by the consumer advocacy group found that the average Illinois resident is overpaying for a smartphone data plan by about $194 a year, buying access to more data than actually needed. The data also revealed that phone customers with average-feature plans, who can only use their phones to make calls or for texting, are overpaying by $30 a year.
The research, released this month by the Pew Internet & American Life project, shows 91 percent of Americans own a cellphone, and 56 percent have a smartphone.
Consumers can look into their cellphone plans by going online to CUBCellphoneSaver.com. The website features "Save Love Give," a free online search tool provided by Houston-based wireless industry research firm Validas, to help consumers find how to save money on their wireless plans.
Rajiv Ravulapati, outreach coordinator for CUB, attributes this overpaying to consumers not carefully reading their billing statements and cellphones not always offering the best service packages for their customers' value, as more wireless companies have moved away from talk-and-text-only packages to pushing pricier data packages.
"We want to educate people on how they can save," Ravulapati said. "So we're directing people toward our online center. It has a lot of great tips on how you can cut down on your costs and it also explains different options letting them know about various data packages between carriers and offers for prepaid cellphones."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.