AT&T, Verizon to Ban Third Party Landline Cramming
Several Billions and Many Years Later...
While the FCC will occasionally crack down on cramming (the stuffing of consumer wireless or landline lines with bogus charges for often awful or nonexistent products or services), they usually focus on the smaller companies
-- ignoring the role larger carriers play in perpetuating these kinds of problems. As we saw last year with Jawa, a company that was running an SMS cramming scheme
, carriers often get a little lax on cracking down because they tend to pull in 30% or more of the profits made.
There has been renewed political attention on the multi-billion-dollar cozy cramming ecosystem, however. A recent study by the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee found that consumers were charged $10 billion in third-party fees in just the last five years — with a majority of them unauthorized. The study also found that AT&T, Qwest, Verizon and CenturyLink made at least $650 million as their cut since just 2006.
AT&T and Verizon have faced numerous class actions on this front that haven't appeared to stop the practice, which occurs on wireless bills as well as wireline
. Working to shut down the practice a little after the fact, Senator Amy Klobuchar this week announced
that both AT&T and Verizon will no longer allow third party charges on landline
networks, with AT&T beginning the ban starting in August:
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today said that AT&T has joined Verizon in putting a stop to phone bill "cramming," which is when a third-party adds unauthorized, misleading, or deceptive charges to a consumer's bill. After Verizon agreed to stop placing third-party charges on landline phone bills, Klobuchar wrote a letter to AT&T and CenturyLink last week urging them to join Verizon and put an end to deceptive billing practices. Verizon’s and AT&T’s announcements come after Klobuchar and other senators have pushed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to crack down on carriers that engage in deceptive billing practices like "cramming."
It's nice of AT&T and Verizon to make this move only after they've raked in what could be billions over the last decade and are making a major move away from landline
. You'll note CenturyLink, who still actually plans to make a living off of wireline networks, has yet to respond to Klobuchar. You'll also note that nobody has agreed to stop doing the exact same thing on wireless networks, which last year's Jawa SMS scam
highlighted is very much an ongoing problem. Perhaps we can take another decade before we serious address it?
Re: ATT, Verizon, Sprint ban together and cure cancer...
said by 93388818:Well, when they actually do that, maybe Karl will surprise you
...Karl writes editorial about carriers killing hospice business and closing down cancer treatment centers.
Re: Unintended Consequences
said by Dezbend:Get them a prepaid 1010 card or give the operator your credit card number when they call.
What if my significant other is in jail, can I no longer accept collect calls, or will they have to be pre-paid?
said by Dezbend:WTF is your satellite service doing on your phone bill? This is what credit cards are for.
What if I currently have my DirecTV/Dish billed on my phone bill? Will I lose this convenience?
said by Dezbend:There are prepaid 1010 cards.
Does this new rule eliminate 10-10 numbers as a viable option to monthly long distance plan?
said by Dezbend:Get a prepaid 1010 card.
And what of calling an operator, this rule in essence kills ZPDI (zero plus dialing incorporated)?
said by Dezbend:To summarize... telephone numbers are being (ab)used as credit card numbers. Anybody can incorporate, set up shop in a hole-in-a-wall, and start sending out billing data to phone companies. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. A phone number should be used for communication, not for billing. That's what credit cards are for.
Granted the vast majority of 3rd party charges are fraudulent, but there are some that I might want to opt-into.
At least with credit cards, it's a long, hard-to-guess number, pluss there's an additional 3-digit code. Plus you can't guess the name and address of the owner. Phone numbers are published in phone books, along with the subscriber's name and address. This is grossly insecure. Phone numbers should not be billable by 3rd parties, period, end of story. A credit card or prepaid 1010 card will handle all the cases you've mentioned.