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Phone Customers Pay $2B Yearly In Bogus Fees 220

Hugh Pickens writes writes "CNN reports that a one-year study by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee shows about $2 billion a year in 'mystery fees' show up on the landline phone bills of Americans. Known as cramming, the extra charges include:long distance service, subscriptions for Internet-related services, access to restricted websites, entertainment services with a 900 area code, collect calls, and club memberships. The Commerce Committee's report says phone companies receive a small fee — often just a dollar or two — for allowing charges from third-party vendors to appear on their bills but due to the large number of customers the charges eventually add up. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the panel people are unaware their phone numbers can be charged almost like a credit card and her investigations indicate customers are not even getting services in return. 'My office has yet to see a legitimate third-party charge on a bill,' says Madigan, who added most customers don't detect the charges on their bills. Senator Jay Rockefeller says Congress needs to pass legislation to protect customers from unauthorized third-party charges on their phone bills because the telephone industry has failed to prevent the practice. 'It's pretty obvious at this point that voluntary guidelines aren't solving this problem,' says Rockefeller. 'It's time for us to take a new look at this problem and find a way to solve it once and for all.'"

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