FCC Approves Anti-Cramming Rules For Landlines, But Nothing Yet On Wireless

It’s been almost a year since the FCC finally got around to considering rule changes to keep landline phone service providers from padding customers’ bills with charges for third-party services that range from long-distance service to yoga classes. Today, the commission announced some new regulations — but they only goes so far in protecting consumers.

The new FCC rules require telephone companies to notify subscribers — at the point of sale, on each bill, and on their websites — if they have the option to block third-party charges from their landline telephone bills.

Additionally, the rules bolster the FCC requirement that third-party charges must be listed separately from the landline provider’s charges on phone bills.

But the FCC did not require phone companies to give customers the option of blocking third-party billing.

Even more noticeable is the lack of any FCC action whatsoever on bill-cramming on consumers’ wireless bills. Granted, reports show that bill-cramming is much more prevalent in landline billing, but the number of Americans with wireless service is only growing while residential landline service is not, so any delay on enacting wireless regulations is just allowing a growing problem to fester.

“Any step taken to expand consumer protections against cramming is a welcome one. However, more consumers are moving away from landlines towards wireless and VoIP services that aren’t guaranteed the same protections to combat unauthorized third party billing,” said Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “The same cramming abuses that happen on landlines can easily happen to wireless and VoIP customers. In order to crack down on these unauthorized charges, the FCC needs to consider stronger protections that apply to wireless.”

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  1. Stickdude says:

    What is this “landline” of which you speak?

    Is it that green line I see on the land in the Fidelity commercials?

    • dez says:

      That would match the meaning of financial management, wouldn’t it? Handling all your bills in one place. Too bad the FCC wants it to be hard to do.

      • Lyn Torden says:

        The appropriate way is for the consumer to have a choice whether they want to have all their bills through the phone company, or some other company willing to do that, or just keep them separate as I do so I know who I’m paying because I owe, and who I don’t pay because I don’t really owe that.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      No, silly – it’s the phone you plug into the wall jack in your house, and the black wire thingy runs from the house to the leafless brown trees along the road, and they connect to other houses.

      I have a landline, because the damned NIMBY’s in my neighborhood voted down the new cell tower! Too tall! OMG the flashing light! Ruining the aesthetics of the neighborhood! Radiation! Oh, and the greatest group of protesters have cell service, because they’re close to another tower closer to town.

      vent over

  2. Hibyeman says:

    What landline all we have are house phones and cell phones no landlines the cell phone companys make house phones like cell phones and vice versa so if a law like this is passed they can say it is a cell phone

  3. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    Thought there was only like 2 people working for the FCC now. I’m sure both of which are like 90 years old and have not heard of those newfangled devices you speak of.

  4. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    “The new FCC rules require telephone companies to notify subscribers ‚Äî at the point of sale, on each bill, and on their websites ‚Äî if they have the option to block third-party charges from their landline telephone bills.”

    Yes. Take that, Verizon! Back in the day I had crammed charges on my bill from that stupid OAN services, and the CSR acted like I should have innately known to tell them to block third party billing. I told them they shouldn’t allow known scammers to bill customers through Verizon phone bills. And it didn’t say anything in the phone book at the time that you had to call Verizon and tell them to block third party billing. Heck, at that time, I had no idea something like that existed.

    Sadly, I suspect the punishment for not notifying customers will be the telecom equivalent of a 5 minute time out.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      But if they don’t offer the ability to do so, they don’t have to actually do any of these things.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        Verizon does. This was about 8 or 9 years ago, too. OAN Services was all over the internet for scamming people for bogus voice mail, long distance calls, etc. They were a known trouble making company, and Verizon acted like they had no idea what was going on, even back then. I wrote a complaint letter to their main HQ, and that was a waste of time. To this day, Verizon acts surprised and taken aback when anyone mentions these shenanigans.

  5. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Why is all this stealing money from us even legal? And we can’t stop it! We should just nuke them from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  6. oldwiz65 says:

    The telephone companies get a percentage of the amount, so it’s no surprise that they allow it to happen. After all, they need all the money they can get.

  7. RStormgull says:

    Classic case of mail fraud going on with each of these crammed bills. The phone company is an accomplice and therefore just as guilty as each of these companies cramming on to your bill.

    I bet if you followed the money trail you’d find that they’re actually shell companies owned either by the phone company or someone in the phone company. Therefore it’s not in their interest to stop the fraud.

  8. buShroom says:

    In the interest of fairness, it’s worth mentioning that telcos cave to allow third party billing charges because of a federal law requiring it. The government is basically fighting itself here.