New anti-cramming rules adopted by FCC

The Federal Trade Commission has enacted new rules to help protect consumers from fraudulent charges on their landline phone bills, also known as “cramming.”

It can be hard for consumers to detect these charges because they often get described in a way  that makes consumers believe they are charges for services the phone company provides  such as voicemail or web services.

The new rules:

  • Require telephone companies to notify subscribers at the point of sale, on each bill, and on their websites of the option to block third-party charges from their landline telephone bills, if the carrier offers that option;
  • Strengthen the commission’s requirement that third-party charges be separated from the landline telephone company’s charges on phone bills; and
  • Ask whether the commission should adopt additional protections, such as requiring landline telephone companies to get consumer consent before placing those charges on their telephone bills if the company already offers to block those charges.

The FCC advises that consumers “regularly check their telephone bills for unauthorized charges, dispute unauthorized charges with their telephone company, report instances of cramming to the FCC, and use the blocking service offered by their telephone company.