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Consumer Group Comments on Phone Bill Slamming and Cramming

Consumers Union, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Consumer Law Center on behalf of its low-income clients, National Consumers League, Public Citizen, and Public Knowledge applaud the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for pursuing this rulemaking to ease the problem of “slamming,” in which a customer’s long-distance carrier is changed without his or her knowledge, as well as the problem of “cramming”—when a third party enters unauthorized charges into a consumer’s phone bill.

Because cramming and slamming continue to plague consumers, we urge the FCC to take a comprehensive approach to these problems.

We propose that the FCC:

  • extend cramming and slamming protections to all voice customers, including landline, cell (prepaid and postpaid), and VoIP;
  • codify rules to prohibit cramming and misrepresentations in sales calls;
  • ban most third-party charges on wireline and VoIP, with only a few exceptions, and block wireless third-party charges, unless the consumer provides his or her express, written consent;
  • require voice providers to offer a free opt-in to block all third-party charges, and require clear and prominent notice to all consumers of the option;
  • establish, and require companies to comply with, a process so that consumers can easily reverse fraudulent charges;
  • require voice providers to “freeze” the long-distance carrier for all of their customers by default;
  • require providers to record the entire sales call preceding a carrier change; and
  • require forwarding of cramming and slamming complaints to the FCC, and share that data with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).