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Bonnie Sutton

FCC Proposals Aimed at Stopping Unauthorized Charges on Phone Bills - 1 views

started by Bonnie Sutton on 12 Jul 11
  • Bonnie Sutton
    FCC Proposals Aimed at Stopping Unauthorized Charges on Phone Bills

    Submitted: July 12, 2011 - 3:44pm
    Originally published: July 12, 2011
    Last updated: July 12, 2011 - 3:45pm
    Source: Federal Communications Commission
    Author: press release
    Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States
    The Federal Communications Commission took action to protect Americans from "mystery fees" and "cramming," which is the illegal placement of an unauthorized fee onto a consumer's monthly phone bill.

    Specifically, the FCC proposed rules that: (1) would require landline telephone companies to notify subscribers clearly and conspicuously -- at the point of sale, on each bill, and on their websites -- of the option to block third-party charges from their telephone bills, if the carrier offers that option; and (2) strengthen the Commission's requirement that third-party charges be separated on bills from the telephone company's charges. In addition, both landline telephone companies and Commercial Mobile Radio Service ("CMRS") providers, such as wireless telephone companies, would have to include, on all telephone bills and on their websites, a notice that consumers may file complaints with the FCC and provide the Commission's contact information for the submission of complaints.

    These proposed rules would help landline telephone consumers detect unauthorized charges that may come from third parties by keeping all third-party charges separate from all telephone company charges, and would also help consumers block those charges. Most landline phone companies now allow consumers to block third-party charges, but may only tell consumers about that option after they have complained about an unauthorized charge. Because many consumers complain that it is difficult to get unauthorized charges resolved, the new rule on FCC contact information would let consumers know they can come to the agency for help if they need it.

    In addition, today's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on several other measures that could help consumers detect, rectify, and prevent cramming. This Notice asks whether landline telephone companies should be: (1) required to offer subscribers the option to block third-party charges from appearing on their telephone bills; (2) required to notify consumers that they do not offer blocking service if they do not do so; (3) prohibited from assessing an additional fee for blocking services; and/or (4) prohibited from including third-party charges on telephone bills altogether.

    The Notice also seeks comments on whether landline telephone companies and/or CMRS providers should be required to: (1) provide accurate contact information for third-party vendors on their telephone bills; and/or (2) screen third parties for prior rule violations or other violations of law before agreeing to place their charges on telephone bills. Finally, the Notice seeks comment on whether the same rules that apply to landline telephone companies also should apply to CMRS providers and to providers of interconnected Voice-over-Internet-Protocol ("VoIP") service.

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    FCC Proposals Aimed at Stopping Unauthorized Charges on Phone Bills

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