In a release issued today, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer is calling for the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on "cramming": the practice of scammers who fool consumers into paying for unwanted services on their monthly phone bills.
These charges can appear on both landline and mobile phone bills. Schumer pointed out that although Verizon and AT&T have recently announced they will ban some third-party charges for landline phones from appearing without consumer consent, mobile phones were left out of the agreement. The senator asked that the FCC "mandate that consumers cannot be charged third party fees by so-called 'crammers' unless they give their explicit consent directly to their cell phone carriers." Meanwhile, Schumer asked that wireless carriers ban the practice voluntarily.
Last May we reported that consumer pressure was causing the FCC to take action to prevent cramming. Much of the effort has been led by Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Today Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, issued a letter to Chairman Rockefeller urging that more needs to be done. From the letter:
Since it is evident that cramming continues to be a serious problem, we agree with you that legislation is still needed to stop this predatory practice, especially to ensure that all consumers are protected from cramming, regardless of technology or provider. Thus, we urge you to introduce legislation that not only protects landline consumers from cramming, but also cellular and VoIP consumers. We look forward to working with Congress to address the unfair practice of cramming.
For tips on what you can do to prevent and defeat this scam, see our story, Beat the new 'cramming' scams on ConsumerReports.org.
Schumer calls on FCC to ban unsolicited third party cramming charges on cell phones [Sen. Charles E. Schumer's website]