New Law Protects Consumers Against Illegal Billing Practices

Dec 22, 2009, 12:18 ET from AARP Illinois

AARP urges families to review phone bills over the holidays

CHICAGO, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The holidays are a time of hustle and bustle - and now AARP is urging Illinoisans to add another critical item to their holiday to-do lists. As families come together for the holidays, AARP is urging people to review their phone bills, particularly bills of elderly friends, family, and neighbors, who may be paying too much -- and needlessly -- for phone services.

Many Illinois consumers have paid untold amounts of money for phone services or products they did not even order or authorize -- a growing and illegal practice known as 'cramming.' However, a new Illinois law will help protect consumers against this illegal practice and will help to drive down costs for individuals in a tough economy.

"Access to affordable telephone service is critical for older adults, many of whom live alone and may not have access to other forms of communication," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois Senior State Director. "That is why it is also critical that older adults, and all consumers, be protected against illegal practices that result in wrongfully inflated phone bills."

The law fights cramming practices by requiring third party verification on charges placed on telephone bills. Third party charges may include charges for services such as three-way calling, voicemail, and caller ID. Parties that charge for services or products on a consumer's bill must now confirm the consumer has requested the service, and must also record the phone call. Records will also be maintained by the service provider for at least two years.

"We are urging families to take a few minutes to review their phone bills this holiday season and make sure they are not a victim of this deceptive practice," Gallo added.

If you feel that you have been charged unfairly for telephone services, please contact your telephone service provider. You may also contact the Illinois Attorney General's Senior Citizens Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-243-5377, or 1-800-964-3013 (TTY).