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).