Rockefeller expands phone industry probe

Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is expanding his investigation into whether phone companies are ripping off consumers with unwarranted fees on their monthly bills.

The investigation surrounds a practice called "cramming," which adds unauthorized third-party charges to telephone bills.

Rockefeller began the investigation last year, asking AT&T, Verizon and Qwest for data on cramming. He expanded the probe to CenturyLink, Windstream, Frontier Communications, FairPoint Communications and Cincinnati Bell on Thursday. 

“Cramming is a widespread problem,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “It is likely harming millions of consumers, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and local, state, and federal governments. Telephone companies have allowed these unauthorized third-party charges to be placed on their customers’ telephone bills for far too long."

He said the committee will keep working on this "until we put an end to cramming and stop the business outfits that profit from it."