Phone Bill Issues and Complaints

The FCC receives tens of thousands of billing complaints each year.  Some smartphone owners report receiving phone bills with charges that are much higher than expected. Legitimate charges include access charges; federal, state, and local taxes; and the Universal Service Fund.  To avoid surprises on phone bills:

  • Carefully monitor each monthly bill to watch out for overbilling.
  • Call and ask about any charges or services that are not clear. 
  • Keep records each month of unusual charges that may be expected. Compare this to each monthly bill.

Consumers should also be aware of the FCC’s Truth in Billing rules which require service providers to:

  • Provide clear, factual, plain language descriptions of billed services.
  • Identify the service provider associated with each charge.
  • Specify which charges could result in disconnection of basic local service if they are not paid on time.
  • Display one or more toll-free numbers on each bill where consumers can call to ask about or dispute any charge.

If neither the service provider nor the company that provided the service in question will remove charges considered to be incorrect, consumers can file a complaint with the FCC, their state public service commission, or with the Federal Trade Commission.

For more information, please see our consumer guide about unauthorized charges and other billing issues.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

It’s that time of year again, and the FCC is providing tips to remind consumers about the potential for identity theft or other privacy risks when using Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth connections. 

  • Be aware that hackers may quickly compromise sensitive information stored on devices and in online accounts.
  • Always lock devices with secure passwords, and do not share passwords with anyone. Check the validity of available Wi-Fi hotspots to avoid connecting to an imposter hotspot.
  • Do not exchange data on sites unless "https" appears at the beginning of the web address to ensure that any transmitted data will be encrypted.
  • Adjust smartphone settings so they do not automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi networks.

For more information, please see our consumer guide about how to protect yourself online.

 
FCC's Broadcast Television and Post Incentive Auction Transition
 

More Information on Rescanning:  Remember to Rescan

Check your local stations:  Interactive Map

Information on the Incentive Auction:  Consumer FAQs: TV Spectrum Auction

 
FCC Consumer Guides in Additional Languages – Now Online!

We are pleased to announce that our top FCC Consumer Guides are now available in four additional languages:  Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese.  Topics of the newly translated guides include robocalls; unauthorized charges on telephone bills; spoofing and caller ID; pre-paid phone cards; local, toll, and long distance calling; slamming; and other important issues.  The guides include links to the FCC’s Consumer Help Center and information about how to reach the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center.


Commission Meeting Updates

During the June 2018 Open Commission Meeting, the FCC approved new rules to help protect consumers from two illegal and harmful practices.  One harmful practice is slamming:  the unauthorized change of a consumer’s preferred telephone service provider.  The other is cramming:  the practice of including unauthorized charges on a consumer’s phone bill.

The Commission’s rules now include a ban on misrepresentations made during sales calls. It makes it clear that if a provider misrepresents the information they provide to a consumer, any authorization given by that consumer to switch telephone companies is invalidated.  

Under the new slamming rules, service providers that are found to be abusing the third-party verification process will be suspended from using that process for five years.  Suspended providers will need to rely on other approved methods to verify switches.  This action will discourage carriers from abusing the system.  It will also create an extra check on carriers with a history of misuse. 

The Commission’s rules now explicitly prohibit placing unauthorized charges on consumers’ phone bills.  Implementing these specific cramming rules will hopefully deter wireless and wireline providers from allowing these unauthorized charges to appear on consumers' phone bills,

For more information, please view:  Slamming and Cramming


FCC/ALA Partnership

The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau is working with the American Library Association (ALA) to distribute our consumer guides to state and local libraries across the nation.  For example, the Texas State Library shared our consumer guides in their blog. We have over 170 consumer guides on various FCC issues.  Our 5 most popular guides are the Children’s Internet Protection Act, Stopping Unwanted Calls, TV Antennas, Spoofing and Caller ID, and Text to 911.  We also offer all our guides in electronic format for interested partners to link to on their webpages.  If you would like to see our consumer guides at your local library, please contact us at outreach@fcc.gov.

 

 

 

 

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Outreach@fcc.gov

 

About The Division
The Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division (CAOD) engages the public through outreach and education initiatives to inform them about important consumer-related regulatory programs, telecommunications issues and other consumer issues that impact their day to day life.
 

 

 


 

Contact Us

Please contact us if you have any questions about consumer issues and outreach at the FCC.

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File a Complaint

File a consumer complaint by topic or tell us your story at our Consumer Complaint Center.  Learn about consumer issues at our Consumer Help Center.

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Updated: 
Monday, October 1, 2018