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Groups urge FCC to protect consumers from wireless ‘bill shock’

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Release Date: January 10, 2011
Contact: 202-835-3323, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League today joined a number of leading consumer and public interest organizations to urge the Federal Communications Commission to help consumers avoid wireless “bill shock.” In response to the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the groups called for greater consumer protections, including:

  • Requiring wireless carriers to inform consumers if they are going over their limit and will be hit by fees due to international or domestic roaming, exceeding allotments of voice, text or data, or other reasons;
  • Creating a “circuit-breaker” mechanism that would require consumer consent before higher-than-expected charges can be incurred; and
  • Requiring clear, conspicuous and ongoing disclosure of tools available to manage usage.

“Numerous studies have found that millions of consumers are affected by wireless ‘bill shock,’” said John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud. “Given the increasingly complex nature of the wireless marketplace and the high fees that are charged when consumers exceed their usage limits, it is imperative that common-sense protections be put in place. Coupling timely alerts with robust usage controls and a requirement for consumer consent before penalty fees can be charged will go a long way to protect consumers from bloated bills.”

Joining with NCL in filing comments were the Center for Media Justice, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Free Press, Media Access Project, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative. To access the groups’ comments, click here.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.