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Protecting Consumers from Fraudulent Phone Bill Charges

CHICAGO HEIGHTS–(ENEWSPF)–December 3, 2009.  Today, State Representative Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights) called attention to the signing of legislation he backed in the Illinois House of Representatives that will help protect consumers from having charges unfairly added to their phone bills.

“All too often, families of the Southland are forced to fork over their hard-earned money to pay for fraudulent costs on their phone bills when their finances are already so scarce and could be better spent on many of life’s other necessities,” DeLuca said.  “It is extremely unfair and burdensome when phone companies pile on additional charges to consumers’ phone bills without their specific consent and without offering any disclosure.  This new law stands up for consumers by cracking-down on phone scams and companies that perpetrate them.”

Senate Bill 142.1 aims to end the practice commonly known as “cramming,” where telecommunication carriers make unauthorized charges on a customer’s bill.  This initiative modeled after a Texas law, strengthens the requirements necessary to obtain and verity customer consent for charges for any product or service before they appear on the customer’s telephone bill.

The new law establishes requirements mandating phone service providers to disclose the terms and conditions of the product or service being offered in the most clear and visible ways possible.  The measure also requires that service providers verify that consumers have given their explicit consent to obtain new services and that they agree to have these services charged to their account.  The consumer must also be provided with contact information on how to resolve potential billing disputes.  Further, the service provider must make every effort to ensure the person giving permission for new charges is authorized to do so.  Finally, every service provider or billing agent is required to maintain a record of disputed charges for 24 months.

“This new law will help protect consumers from fraudulent phone bill charges by forcing third party billing agents to verify that consumers have given consent for all billable services,” Citizens Utility Board (CUB) Senior Policy Analyst/Government Liaison Bryan McDaniel said.  “This law will also help protect consumers by giving the Attorney General increased authority to prosecute companies that do not comply with these new requirements.”

The new law is supported by CUB, the Illinois Telecommunications Association and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

 

Source: Rep. DeLuca’s Office

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