WASHINGTON, D.C.— Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV commended the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today for bringing an action against Wise Media, LLC, a company that the Commission alleges was engaged in the practice of placing unauthorized third-party charges on consumers’ wireless telephone bills. This fraudulent billing practice, commonly referred to as “cramming,” has already cost consumers billions of dollars on their wireline bills. Rockefeller is concerned that wireless companies have not acted aggressively enough to ensure cramming does not migrate from wireline to wireless bills.
“The FTC’s action today confirms my fear that our success in stopping wireline cramming has forced crammers to find other ways to scam consumers,” said Rockefeller. “Cramming has already cost consumers billions of dollars on their wireline bills and we need to make sure that consumers aren’t unfairly charged billions more on their wireless bills. I will continue to investigate the problem of wireless cramming, and I applaud the FTC for taking the first of what I hope are many actions against these types of companies.”
Rockefeller recently sent letters to four U.S. wireless telephone companies – AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile – and five billing aggregators requesting information about the practice of “cramming” unauthorized third-party charges and sharing his concerns that the practice of “cramming” is migrating to consumers’ wireless telephone bills. Recent studies and reviews of consumer complaint websites call into question the effectiveness of many protections that wireless companies have put in place to protect consumers from unauthorized third-party charges.
The Senate Commerce Committee completed a year-long investigation into cramming on wireline telephone bills in 2011, which showed that cramming has cost American consumers and businesses billions of dollars over the past decade. In response to the Committee’s investigation, wireline telephone companies took a number of positive steps last year to eliminate cramming on wireline bills. However, millions of American consumers and businesses now use wireless telephones, and growing numbers of U.S. homes are now reported as being “wireless-only.”