FCC Fines Telecom Provider $1.6 Million for Adding Unauthorized Charges and Fees to Consumer Bills
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a $1.6 million fine against Net One International, a Florida-based long distance carrier, for billing consumers for unauthorized charges and fees, a practice known as "cramming."
The FCC's Enforcement Bureau reviewed over 100 consumer complaints filed with the agency as well as the Better Business Bureau against Net One. Consumers complained that Net One continued to charge them for services and "late fees" after they cancelled service and paid all final bills.
Net One then refused to let consumers close their accounts until they paid these unauthorized charges and fees. In many cases, consumers contacted Net One repeatedly about the unauthorized billings, but were unable to resolve the issue until after they filed a complaint.
The FCC says that Net One continued to engage in cramming despite repeated warnings from the FCC that such actions violated the law.
"No consumer should be charged for phone services that they canceled or never requested in the first place," said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. "We encourage all consumers who have been charged by their phone company for services that they did not authorize to contact the Commission."
Today's Forfeiture Order affirms a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture issued by the Commission in July 2014 against Net One proposing a $1.6 million forfeiture for the same unlawful cramming practices.
The FCC says that it is committed to combating cramming because this unjust, unreasonable, and illegal practice results in consumers paying for services they never requested or received, forcing them to expend significant time and effort to request refunds or cancel these unauthorized charges.
For more information about the FCC's rules protecting consumers from unauthorized charges on telephone bills, see the FCC consumer guides regarding cramming.
To file a complaint with the FCC, visit the Consumer Help Center or call toll-free 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).