By Brendan Sasso - 10/02/12 02:34 PM EDT
In each of the cases, the FCC said the companies targeted immigrant populations, claiming they could call their families in their native countries for just a few dollars. But officials found that the cards, which are widely available in convenience stores and gas stations, often allowed for only a fraction of the advertised minutes.
Officials said that NobelTel advertised a $2 card that offered 400 minutes of calls to Mexico — but in reality, the card was exhausted after one 10-minute call. The company imposed various charges, such as "daily" and "hang-up" fees, which were poorly disclosed, according to the FCC.
"As this action makes clear, we remain vigilant in our effort to crack down on prepaid calling card scammers who engage in deceptive marketing," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "Millions of Americans depend on prepaid calling cards to connect with family and friends around the world, and the FCC will not tolerate predatory schemes that include unfair or unclear fees. The commission will continue to monitor marketing activities around prepaid calling cards — and will not hesitate to take decisive action when warranted.”