Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today wrote to five companies, known as billing aggregators, requesting information about the practice of placing unauthorized third-party charges on wireless telephone bills, a practice commonly referred to as "wireless cramming." Billing aggregators act as the middle-man between wireless telephone companies and third-party companies that place charges on consumers' telephone bills. Cramming has already cost consumers billions of dollars on their wireline telephone bills. Rockefeller is concerned that wireless companies and billing aggregators have not acted aggressively enough to ensure cramming does not migrate from wireline to wireless bills.
The five companies are OpenMarket, Motricity, Inc., Mobile Messenger, mBlox Inc., and Ericcson. Read the letters here.
Rockefeller recently sent letters to four U.S. wireless telephone companies -- AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile -- sharing his concerns that the practice of "cramming" unauthorized third-party charges is migrating to consumers' wireless telephone bills. Since his initial letters to the same companies in June 2012, studies and reviews of consumer complaint websites call into question the effectiveness of many protections that wireless companies have put in place to protect consumers from unauthorized third-party charges.
The Senate Commerce Committee completed a year-long investigation into cramming on wireline telephone bills in 2011, which showed that cramming has cost American consumers and businesses billions of dollars over the past decade. In response to the Committee's investigation, wireline telephone companies took a number of positive steps last year to eliminate cramming on wireline bills. However, millions of American consumers and businesses now use wireless telephones, and growing numbers of U.S. homes are now reported as being "wireless-only."