Senator Stevens Cosponsors Calling Card Legislation
Bill Would Require Calling Card Operators to Make Fees and Terms Easier to Understand
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) today cosponsored legislation that would assist users of pre-paid calling cards and ensure that fees and terms of these cards are easier to understand.
"I am pleased to cosponsor this important legislation because too often when it comes to calling cards, what you see is not what you get," said Senator Stevens. "Many Alaskans, including our deployed troops, use calling cards to keep in touch with their families. It is important to ensure that the terms and fees for these cards are easy to understand."
The bill would require pre-paid calling card providers and distributors to disclose the number of minutes/units on the card, the dollar value of the card, and international per-minute rates. The legislation also would place violations under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which allows states to bring civil actions.
Most pre-paid calling cards display a toll-free access telephone number and a personal identification number (PIN). The issuers of the cards use a PIN to track a customer's usage and how much time remains on a particular card in either minutes or units. To make a phone call, a customer dials the access number, enters a PIN, and at the voice prompt, enters the phone number the customer wants to reach. Typically, a computer announces how much time, or units, the customer has left on a card. Recent court cases allege that certain calling card companies misrepresented the number of minutes allocated to consumers, failed to disclose that consumers' cards will be charged whether or not the call goes through, and charged hidden fees.