past, just about everyone had a home phone or landline. Today it is becoming
more and more common for people to only have a mobile phone and no landline in
their home. Those that do have a landline in their home need to keep an eye on
their bill as a new report has surfaced that Americans are being charged for a
huge amount of unauthorized services each month.
A study that lasted for a year was published
by the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and found that Americans
were charged about $2 billion in so-called mystery fees in a single year which
is called “cramming”. The charges show up on the often confusing bills for
landline phone services and typically the customer billed never receives the
services charged for. A hearing was held in Washington to ask major telecom
companies what the charges are about.
Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, asked an industry rep
why major telecom firms like AT&T hadn’t stopped the unauthorized charges
on phone bills by third parties. Rockefeller said, "It's illegal, it's
wrong, it's scamming. Why haven't you cleaned up your act?"
The industry representative the question was posed to is Walter McCormick,
president and CEO of the U.S. Telecom Association. McCormick said, "The
industry has taken significant steps. Even the report that you issued today
indicates that there has been improvement, but it remains a very, very
significant, very pervasive problem."
The report also points out that the phone companies receive a fee of a few
dollars from the third-party billers and these fees can add up to a significant
amount over time with the number of customers the phone companies have.
AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest made about $650 million over the last five years
from these fees alone.
Washington is also being joined by a number of states in the fight against
these unauthorized charges.