Rockefeller Asks Wireless Carriers for Information on Third-Party Charges

June 13, 2012

Feature Image: 2 Oversight&InvestigationsWASHINGTON, D.C.— Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV sent letters to four U.S. wireless telephone companies to better understand the magnitude of third-party charges on wireless telephone bills and what is being done to protect consumers from unauthorized charges. The practice, known as “cramming,” involves placing unauthorized third-party charges on consumers’ telephone bills.

These letters, sent to Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T, follow a year-long Senate Commerce Committee investigation into cramming on wireline telephone bills and its impact on consumers. The investigation showed that cramming on wireline telephone bills cost American consumers billions of dollars in unauthorized third-party charges over the past decade. 

In response to the Committee’s investigation of third-party billing through wireline telephone bills, wireline telephone companies took positive steps to eliminate cramming, including a recent decision to stop allowing the placement of most third-party charges on wireline telephone bills.  These efforts are expected to greatly curb cramming on wireline telephone bills.  However, concerns have been raised that they will be meaningless if cramming simply migrates from wireline telephone bills to wireless bills.