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NCL statement on Senate Commerce Committee Cramming Report and recent FCC proposal to address mystery fees

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July 13, 2011

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington, DC--The following statement is attributable to National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

Chairman Rockefeller’s report on the impact of cramming on landline phone bills confirms our fears about the extent of the problem. As reported by the Federal Communications Commission, this is an issue that touches tens of millions of households, with few even aware that they are victims. At a time of economic distress, it is unacceptable that billions of dollars in cramming charges are being siphoned out of consumers’ pockets. That the nation’s telecommunications carriers were aware of the problem, and indeed may have profited from this fraud belies the futility of voluntary industry efforts to address cramming.

The FCC’s proposed rules to increase disclosure requirements and require free third-party billing blocking do not go far enough. For more than a decade, consumers have been asked to rely on weak regulatory safeguards and voluntary industry standards for protection from cramming. As Chairman Rockefeller’s report vividly illustrates, these half-measures are not working.

Third-party billing on landline phone bills is a relic of a previous telecommunications era that scam artists are exploiting to steal billions from consumers. We see few legitimate reasons why a consumer would need to have a charge for a product or service billed on a landline phone account. It is for these reasons that NCL is calling on Congress to pass national legislation modeled on Vermont’s recently enacted law that prohibits third-party billing on landline phone accounts, with few exceptions.

Cramming fraud has gone on long enough and cost consumers far too much. Where federal regulators and the telecommunications industry have failed in protecting consumers, Congress must act.

NCL’s letter to Chairman Rockefeller regarding this issue is available here.

Consumer who have been victims of cramming fraud are encouraged to file a complaint with NCL’s Fraud Center at www.fraud.org.

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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.