This week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new rules to stop the illegal practice of “Cramming” –
the placement of unauthorized third-party charges on land-line phone bills. Unfortunately, the new rules do not address cramming on wireless phones.
The new FCC rules require telephone companies to notify consumers – at the point of sale, on each bill, and on their websites – that they have the option to block third-party charges from their landline telephone bills. The rules reiterate an earlier FCC rule that third-party charges must be listed separately from the landline service provider’s charges on phone bills.
By charging consumers small amounts such as $1.50 per month, and falsely labeling charges to appear to be services from the phone company, unauthorized charges can go undetected for months or even years. According to FCC estimates, 15 to 20 million American households a year have cramming fees on their monthly landline phone bills.
While this is a positive step to protect consumers, it ignores America’s 330 million wireless consumers. In particular, the new rules provide no protection for over one third of American households who only have wireless phones. Chased away from land lines, crammers will now inevitably shift their multi-million dollar business to wireless phones. Ignoring cramming on wireless won’t make it go away, only make it worse.
* Image by Furryscaly