Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to crack down on the occurrence of unauthorized, misleading, or deceptive third-party charges on cell phone bills. During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Klobuchar urged FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to fight the deceptive billing practice, known as “cramming”, on cell phones as well as land lines. Earlier this year, Klobuchar successfully pressed Verizon, AT&T, and CenturyLink to stop placing third-party charges on landline phone bills.
“Wireless consumers shouldn’t have to open their bills every month to find an endless array of complicated charges they never knew they were accruing,” Klobuchar said. “While we have made some progress on stopping cramming on landline phone bills, I urge the FCC to continue to move forward and fight these tactics on cell phone bills as well. I will continue to work to ensure consumers have access to clear, transparent bills free from hidden charges.”
"Cramming" comes in many forms, but it typically refers to "mystery charges" buried in the details of a consumer's phone bill. Crammers trick consumers by pretending to offer something for "free" but then apply charges to consumers' phone bills. The monthly charges are listed with vague descriptions, so consumers often do not detect the unauthorized charges for months.
Klobuchar has been a leader in pushing to make sure consumers have access to clear and accurate phone bills free from hidden charges and has consistently pressed the FCC to crack down on cramming. Klobuchar successfully put pressure on Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink to stop placing third-party charges on landline phone bills. After pressure from Klobuchar and the Senate Commerce Committee, the FCC recently adopted consumer protections to fight the occurrence of unauthorized third-party billing on landline phone bills and agreed to look into cramming on wireless bills.
Last year Klobuchar introduced legislation with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to require wireless providers to disclose complete and accurate information about their 4G wireless data service, and she has also introduced legislation to pro-rate early termination fees and to require carriers to provide better coverage maps and clearer bills. She has also teamed up with Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson on this issue.
Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, which has oversight over the FCC and the telecommunications industry.