U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is calling for an end to unauthorized “ghost charges” on land-line phone bills.
Klobuchar sent letters to AT&T and CenturyLink this week, urging the companies join Verizon in banning third-party charges on consumers’ phone bills, a practice known as "cramming."
A study by the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee found that phone companies placed $10 billion in, mostly unauthorized, fees on landline phone bills over a five-year period. In the coming weeks, the committee chair, Democratic Sen. John “Jay” Rockefeller of West Virginia, plans to introduce a bill to ban the charges.
“Consumers shouldn’t have to open their phone bills every month to find an endless array of ghost charges they never authorized,” Klobuchar said. “I am pleased that Verizon has agreed to ban these cramming practices, and now the rest of America’s phone companies need to step up to the plate and do the same. I will continue to fight to make sure that consumers are protected from deceptive billing practices.
Klobuchar’s staff says she has been a leader in pressing the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on cramming. She is a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, which helps oversee the FCC.
Here’s the full text of Klobuchar’s letter:
I write to you today about the practice known as “cramming,” where phone companies permit unwanted and often mysterious third-party charges on telephone bills.
I have long pressed for pro-consumer measures in the communications industry, including pushing wireless and wireline phone companies to make sure that consumers have access to clear and accurate phone bills free from hidden charges. As I have said consistently, consumers shouldn’t have to open their phone bills every month to find an endless array of ghost charges they never authorized. That is why I support Verizon’s recent announcement to put a stop third party billing for services outside their network - a significant step to cracking down on cramming for their wireline customers and make their phone bills more transparent, understandable and consumer-friendly.
In light of Verizon’s announcement today and the consumer interests at stake, I strongly urge your company to step up to the plate and do the same. Your customers deserve nothing less.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your prompt reply.