June 18, 2012

Legislation Would Protect Consumers from
Unauthorized Phone Charges

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Frank Skartados today announced passage of legislation that would protect consumers by barring the placement of unauthorized charges on a local telephone phone bill, a practice known as "cramming."

"The intentionally deceptive practice of adding unauthorized charges to consumers' phone bills takes advantage of the sometimes-confusing nature of phone bills," said Silver. "I am pleased to see the Assembly taking action to protect consumers from these predatory charges."

"This bill will combat efforts by fraudsters and unscrupulous business entities to trick consumers into paying for services they did not authorize or intend to purchase," said Skartados, sponsor of the measure. "This is a necessary and much-needed protection for landline and cable telephone customers in New York State."

The legislation (A.10256/Skartados) prohibits any third party from adding charges to a phone bill without the informed consent of the consumer. These charges, which usually appear on phone bills as confusing codes, can go unnoticed for months and even years, often resulting in hundreds of dollars in unauthorized fees. Charges "crammed" onto a phone bill are often listed as services such as voicemail, streaming video, online games, or directory assistance.