FCC adopts rule to combat unwanted charges on phone bills

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has urged phone companies to ban third-party charges and has suggested he could introduce legislation on the issue.

An investigation by Rockefeller's Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee last year found that phone companies had placed $10 billion in third-party charges on customers' landline phone bills over the last five years — and that a large percentage of those charges were unauthorized.

Some people unwittingly enrolled in services by submitting their phone number to companies online or by agreeing to services over the phone. Others never did anything to participate in the programs but were charged anyway.

Rockefeller applauded the FCC's vote on Friday, but he said the government needs to go further to protect consumers.

“Today’s vote is a good thing and I am pleased that the FCC is working to address cramming," Rockefeller said. "But more can be done to ensure that consumers are protected from fraudulent charges on their phone bills. Cramming cannot be allowed to migrate to other communications offerings, like wireless services. I still believe legislation is needed to bring a halt to these fraudulent practices once and for all.”