FCC seeks to crack down on phone bill mystery fees

July 12, 2011 - 1:29 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators are proposing new rules to make it easier for consumers to detect and challenge mystery fees on their phone bills.

The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to seek public comments on the proposed rules, which are intended to crack down on the practice of "cramming." Cramming is the illegal placement of unauthorized fees on a consumer's phone bill — either by the phone company or an outside party.

These fraudulent charges are usually buried inside phone bills and generally appear under generic descriptions such as minute use fee, activation, member fee, voice mail or Web hosting. Often just a few dollars, they can be easy to overlook.