Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), today introduced legislation that would prevent telephone companies from "cramming" unauthorized third-party charges onto consumers' landline phone bills. Cramming happens when businesses place multiple illegitimate, misleading or deceptive charges on a customer's telephone bill. According to a Committee investigation, consumers have already lost billions of dollars through mysterious and unauthorized charges for services that they never purchased.
In addition to the legislation, Chairman Rockefeller sent letters today to several wireless telephone carriers -- AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and Sprint -- asking for more information about each company's policies for safeguarding consumers against cramming. Now that Americans have begun to replace land line phones with wireless phones as their preferred form of telephone communication, Rockefeller is concerned that consumers are vulnerable to cramming on wireless bills as safeguards by wireless carriers to prevent cramming on these bills might not be in place. The Chairman also wants to make sure that consumers are able to confirm authorized third-party charges that appear on their bills.
"We're shining a spotlight on devious efforts to trick consumers through a web of misleading and confusing phone bill charges," said Rockefeller. "I wasn't tolerant of this in the past and it's not going to happen in the future, period. Consumer predators are now on notice -- phone bills are no longer an easy way to stick consumers with bogus charges."
"No consumer should have to open their phone bills at the end of the month to find an endless array of complicated charges they never knew they were accruing," Klobuchar said. "This legislation will help crack down on cramming and I will continue to work to ensure consumers have access to clear, transparent bills free from hidden charges."
"This legislation would prevent fraudulent phone fees from being disguised as a tax or some other common charge," Blumenthal said. "Third-party companies should not be able to nickel and dime consumers for charges without their consent."