What is call splashing?

When you place a long-distance call from a public phone (a payphone, hotel, or airport phone, for example) your call may be routed to a distant call center before being "handed off" to your preferred long-distance company, which might - unintentionally or intentionally - bill you as if your call originated from the distant call center rather than the actual location. As a result, you may be charged a higher long-distance rate than you expected.

Is call splashing legal?

A telephone company is permitted to base charges on an artificial point of origination if you:

  • Request to be transferred to a different company's operator
  • Are informed (before incurring any charges) that the call may be billed as if it originated elsewhere  
  • Consent to the transfer

How can I avoid being splashed?

  • Listen carefully to the telephone operator and don't consent to any call transfers unless you understand what the operator is asking.
  • Carefully read your phone bill to ensure the origination and destination locations of your long-distance phone calls are correct.
  • If your phone call has been billed at a higher rate without your, file a complaint with your long-distance company. 
  • If you are unable to resolve the matter with your preferred long-distance company, you can file a complaint with the FCC.

Print Out

Call Splashing Guide (pdf)


File a Complaint with the FCC


Visit our Consumer Complaint Center at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov to file a complaint or tell us your story.

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Consumer Help Center

Learn about consumer issues - visit the FCC's Consumer Help Center at www.fcc.gov/consumers.


Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Tuesday, October 25, 2016