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CGB Seeks to Refresh the Record on "Cramming"

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Released: August 27, 2013


Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th St., S.W.


Washington, D.C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

DA 13-1807

Released: August 27, 2013



CG Docket No. 11-116 and 09-158; CC Docket No. 98-170

Comment Date: [45 days after Publication in the Federal Register]
Reply Comment Date: [60 days after Publication in the Federal Register]
With this Public Notice, the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) seeks
to refresh the record on cramming, the unlawful and fraudulent practice of placing unauthorized charges on
telephone bills. As explained below, in light of developments and additional evidence related to cramming for
both wireline and Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) consumers, the Bureau seeks to update the record
in response to the Commission's April 2012 Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
On April 27, 2012, the Commission adopted rules to help wireline consumers prevent and detect
cramming.1 Those rules require wireline providers that currently offer blocking of third-party charges to notify
consumers of this option on their bills, carrier websites, and other points of sale. The rules also require all
wireline providers to place non-carrier, third-party charges in a distinct bill section separate from all carrier
charges, and to provide separate totals for carrier and non-carrier charges.2 These rules took effect on November
13, 20123 and December 26, 2012,4 respectively.
At the same time it adopted the new rules, the Commission sought comment in a Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking (Further Notice) on whether the Commission should take additional steps to prevent
wireline cramming, including requiring carriers to obtain a consumer's affirmative consent before placing third-
party charges on bills (i.e., "opt-in"), and on possible regulatory and non-regulatory measures to address
cramming that involves CMRS consumers.5 Comments were due by June 25, 2012, and reply comments were
due by July 20, 2012.6

1 See Empowering Consumers to Prevent and Detect Billing for Unauthorized Charges ("Cramming"); Consumer
Information and Disclosure; Truth-in-Billing and Billing Format
, CG Docket Nos. 11-116 and 09-158, CC Docket 98-170,
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 4436 (2012) (Cramming Order and Further
2 See id.
3 See 47 C.F.R. 64.2401(f) (disclosure of blocking option).
4 See id. 64.2401(a)(3) (third-party charges in a separate bill section).
5 See Cramming Order and Further Notice, 27 FCC Rcd at 4485.
6 See Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Announces Comment Deadline for "Cramming" Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking
, 27 FCC Rcd 5794 (CGB 2012); Empowering Consumers to Prevent and Detect Billing for
Unauthorized Charges ("Cramming"); Consumer Information and Disclosure; Truth-in-Billing and Billing Format
, CG

Since the Commission's new rules took effect and the Further Notice's comment cycle closed, a number
of noteworthy developments have taken place. Specifically, after adoption of the new cramming rules, major
wireline carriers made voluntary commitments to cease including most third-party charges on telephone bills and
have now had time to implement those commitments.7 In addition, in May 2013, forty state and territorial
attorneys general wrote the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to express concerns about the growth of cramming
on CMRS bills.8 Further, workshops held in April and May by the FCC and the FTC, respectively, brought to
light additional information on the extent of the cramming problem; industry efforts to combat cramming; and
possible ways to verify consumer consent to third-party charges.9 For example, recently published state studies
indicate that half of all CMRS bills contain unauthorized charges and contend that the number of consumer
complaints may substantially understate the magnitude of the CMRS cramming problem.10

The record in this proceeding does not fully address the developments, studies, and the information that
has come to light since the Further Notice comments and reply comments were filed, including questions as to the
extent to which consumers may continue to be unaware that third-party charges can appear on their wireline and
CMRS bills and about their ability to successfully resolve disputes regarding unauthorized third-party charges.
We therefore seek to refresh the record in this proceeding. We seek comment on the recent developments
discussed above. We also seek comment on all issues raised in the Further Notice, including but not limited to
the current extent of cramming for consumers of wireline and CMRS services, the need for an opt-in requirement
and the mechanics of an opt-in process for wireline and/or CMRS services, and the other specific issues discussed
below. We seek comment on the specific details of how wireline carriers have implemented voluntary
commitments to cease including most third-party charges on telephone bills and on the efficacy of those efforts;
the efficacy of CMRS industry efforts to combat cramming, such as the double opt-in process; and on the details
and efficacy of any other industry efforts to combat wireline and CMRS cramming. We also seek comment on
the extent to which wireline cramming remains a problem for subscribers of carriers that have not voluntarily
ceased including most third-party charges on their bills, and whether different measures to combat cramming are
appropriate for small and rural wireline carriers. Similarly, we seek comment on whether different measures
(Continued from previous page)
Docket Nos. 11-116 and 09-158, CC Docket 98-170, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 7336 (CGB 2012) (extending reply comments
7 See Letter from Timothy McKone, Executive Vice President, Federal Relations, AT&T Services, Inc., to The Honorable
John D. Rockefeller, Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, United States Senate (Mar. 28, 2012)
attaching letter from Mark A. Kerber, General Attorney, AT&T Services, Inc., to All AT&T Billing Solutions Services
Customers (Mar. 28, 2012); Letter from Ian Dillner, Vice President, Federal Regulatory Affairs, Verizon, to Marlene Dortch,
Secretary, FCC (Mar. 23, 2012); News Release, Klobuchar: CenturyLink Joins AT&T and Verizon in Putting a Stop to
Cramming on Phone Bills
(Apr. 3, 2012), available at; (last
visited Aug. 2, 2013).
8 See Letter from the Attorneys General of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida,
Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri,
Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, and
Wyoming to the Federal Trade Commission (June 24, 2013),
86106.pdf (last visited Aug. 2, 2013) (stating, among other things, that "[t]he Attorneys General view the elimination of
cramming in the mobile telephone industry to be a consumer protection priority").
9 See Transcript of Federal Communications Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Workshop on Bill
Shock and Cramming
, (last visited Aug. 2, 2013), and
Transcript of Federal Trade Commission Mobile Cramming Roundtable, (last visited Aug. 2, 2013).
10 See, e.g., Mobile Phone Third Party Charge Authorization Study, Jane Kolodinsky, PhD, Center for Rural Studies at the
University of Vermont (May 5, 2013), Phone Third-Party Charge Authorization
Study.pdf (last visited Aug. 2, 2013).

might be more appropriate for small and rural CMRS carriers than for other CMRS carriers. We generally seek
comment on whether additional measures to combat wireline cramming are necessary and whether any new
measures to combat CMRS cramming are appropriate, as well as what those measures might be. We ask
commenters to address the costs and benefits of any proposal.
The proceedings for which this Public Notice seeks additional comment shall be treated as "permit-but-
disclose" proceedings in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules.11 Persons making ex parte
presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation
within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period
applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation
must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was
made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation
consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written
comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or
arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or
paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum.
Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte
presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for
which the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and
memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the
electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc,
.xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission's
ex parte rules.
Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules,12 interested parties may file comments
and reply comments on or before the respective dates indicated on the first page of this Notice. Comments may
be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents
in Rulemaking Proceedings
, 63 FR 24121 (1998).

Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS:

Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If
more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must
submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.

Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class
or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary,
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be
delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The
filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands
or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.

Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be
sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.

11 47 C.F.R. 1.1200 et seq.
12 47 C.F.R. 1.415, 1.419.

U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street, SW,
Washington, DC 20554.
People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large
print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to or call the Consumer & Governmental
Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).


B. Lynn Follansbee, Consumer and Governmental Affairs
Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, 202-418-1514, and

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