With phone bills including charges for yoga classes, diet plans, voicemail and long-distance calls that consumers never requested, the FCC is backing up consumers’ fight against phone companies. These mystery fees, also known as cramming, are illegal if they are not authorized by the consumer.
The FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, announced on Monday that the new rules would increase transparency and disclosure in phone bills. To assist consumers in resolving unsolicited charges, a Cramming Tip Sheet has been provided, which can be accesed at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/cramming-tip-sheet-consumers. The FCC believes that there are potentially 15 to 20 million American households affected by these mystery fees, and according to a recent survey, only 5% of them are aware of these fees.
Genachowski stressed that they were focused not only on educating and empowering consumers, but also on taking action against “abusive practices”. Four companies were last week issued penalties totaling $11.7 million for allegedly charging unsolicited long-distance calls to thousands of consumers. These fines issued to Cheap2Digital Telephone, Norristown Telephone, Main Street Telephone and VoiceNet Telephone are for unlawful billing which appears to have carried on for months.
“Today, we are saying loud and clear to consumers trying to navigate the complex and constantly changing communications landscape: the FCC is on your side” concluded Genachowski.