U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 27 mins

New FCC rules help you prevent cramming on landline phone bills


The Federal Communications Commission has taken steps to protect you from difficult-to-detect fraudulent charges on your landline phone bill. The new FCC rules combat illegal placement of unauthorized charges.

Crammers avoid detection by charging a small amount to each consumer—as little as $1.99 a month—or describing charges in a manner that make them appear to be for services from the phone company, such as voicemail or web services. Unauthorized charges can often go undetected for months or even years.

The new rules don’t apply to providers of Commercial Mobile Radio Service, like wireless companies, or providers of Voice over Internet Protocol service.

Among other points, the new rules:

  • Require telephone companies to notify you at the point of sale, on each bill, and on their website of the option to block third-party charges from their landline telephone bills, if the carrier offers that option.
  • Strengthen FCC requirement that third-party charges be separated from the landline telephone company’s charges on phone bills.

The FCC also asked for comment on additional ways consumers can protect themselves against cramming.

Last May, we reported that consumer pressure was causing the FCC to take action to prevent cramming. For tips on what you can do to prevent and defeat this scam, see our story, Beat the new cramming scams.

Previously: Senator calls for regulation on mobile "cramming" scams Source: FCC Adopts Rules To Help Consumers Identify And Prevent Unauthorized Mystery Fees, Known As "Cramming," On Phone Bills [FCC]

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on Yahoo!

Copyright © 2008-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction in whole or in part without written permission.

More From Consumer Reports