FCC fines calling card companies for deceptive marketing


In one case the FCC investigated, consumers would have to make a single 13-hour phone call to receive the advertised number of minutes. If the consumers made more than one call, they would receive a smaller fraction of the card value. In another case, a card that promised 1,000 minutes was exhausted after a single 60-minute phone call. 

According to investigators, the companies targeted primarily low-income and minority communities.

“Every day, people — many of them from our most vulnerable communities — rely on prepaid calling cards to connect with friends and family around the world," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Michele Ellison said. "The orders released today detail the misleading practices — from illegible fine print to impossible-to-calculate fees — that some companies appear to use to sell their cards. We hope that these cases lead all prepaid card providers to reexamine their marketing practices to ensure that they are treating consumers fairly.”

The FCC also released an enforcement advisory on Thursday to raise awareness about deceptive prepaid calling cards.