FTC to Host Forum on "Cramming"

On May 11, 2011 the FTC will host a forum in Washington DC to examine how the government, businesses, and consumer protection organizations can work together to prevent consumers from being hit with unauthorized third-party charges on their phone bills, a practice known as "cramming."

The FTC is inviting government agencies, consumer advocates, and industry representatives to participate in the forum to discuss ways to reduce cramming through business practices, law enforcement and possible legislation. Participants will be asked to take up specific ideas such as:

  • allowing consumers to request a block on all third-party billing;
  • requiring third parties to get written approval from consumers before placing charges on their phone bills;
  • how telephone bill cramming harms individual consumers and small businesses;
  • how consumers and competition can benefit from third-party billing on telephone bills for products and services such as voicemail, developing or hosting websites, or other enhanced services;
  • the steps that billing companies and telephone carriers currently take to detect, monitor, and prevent cramming;
  • best practices being used by the industry to reduce cramming, such as improving disclosure of third-party charges to consumers; and
  • the types of goods and services charged on telephone bills, and the difference between landline and wireless billing practices.

The FTC invites interested parties to submit requests to be panelists by sending an e-mail to crammingforum@ftc.gov by March 4, 2011. Requests should include a statement detailing any relevant expertise in working on or studying cramming, especially the topics specified above, and complete contact information. 

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