Third-party billing firms are charging Americans up to $2 billion a year in “unauthorized fees” on their landline telephone bills, generating massive profits for the nation’s largest telephone companies that don’t do nearly enough to crack down on the practice, a Senate Commerce Committee investigation has found.

Most consumers don’t even detect the charges for months or years, if at all, because they typically range from $2 to $20 on their monthly bills. But when consumers and businesses do complain to telephone companies, they often get the runaround.

The FCC announced Tuesday proposed rules that would require telephone companies to notify consumers clearly of the option to block third-party charges from their bills if the carrier offers that option. The rules also strengthen the commission’s requirement that third-party charges be separated on bills from the telephone company’s charges.

Continue reading →