The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rules that ensure consumers are able to reach their preferred long distance telephone company or companies from public telephones, hotel phones or other telephones served by operator service providers (OSPs). These rules also apply to telephones in public areas at correctional institutions, such as telephones located in visitation areas. The rules do not apply, however, to telephones used only by inmates. In most cases, inmates using “inmate-only” telephones are only allowed to make collect calls and do not have a right to access a preferred long distance telephone company. Additional restrictions, such as limits on the number of calls, call duration or and calling hours apply to “inmate-only” telephones and may influence rates for calls from these telephones.
Identifying Rates for Collect Calls from Prisons
FCC rules require that, when an inmate places a collect call, each OSP must identify itself to the person receiving the call before connecting the call. Each OSP must also disclose, before connecting the call, how the receiving party may obtain rate quotations. Additionally, the OSP must permit the receiving party to terminate the telephone call at no charge before the call is connected. These rules apply only to interstate (between states) OSP calls. Most states, however, have similar rules for intrastate OSP calls.
Complaints - Where to file
To complain about rates for intrastate (within a state) collect calls from public phones in prisons, contact the state public utility commission in the state where the call originated and terminated. State public utility commission addresses may be found at www.naruc.org/commissions.cfm or in the blue pages or government section of your local telephone directory. To complain about interstate and international rates, file a complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint with the FCC.
What to include in your complaint
The best way to provide all the information the FCC needs to process your complaint is to complete the online complaint form in full. When you open the online complaint form, you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the online complaint form, your complaint should include the following:
- your name, address, email address and phone number where you can be reached;
- name, phone number, city and state of the company that you are complaining about;
- amount of any disputed charges, whether you paid them, whether you received a refund or adjustment to your bill, the amount of any adjustment or refund you have received, an explanation if the disputed charges are related to services in addition to residential or business telephone ervices; and
- details of your complaint and any additional relevant information.
Filing a complaint with the FCC
You can file your complaint using an FCC online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center utilizing the information below.
For More Information
For information about this and other communications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer website, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554