Citation Edit

FTC Staff Report, Mobile Cramming: A Federal Trade Commission Staff Report (July 2014) (full-text).

Overview Edit


The FTC staff recommends certain best practices for industry participants to protect consumers against unwanted charges while enabling innovation and consumer access to carrier billing payment mechanisms.

  • First, mobile carriers should give consumers the option to block all third-party charges on their phone accounts. At activation, carriers should inform consumers that third-party charges may be placed on their mobile accounts and carriers should give consumers the opportunity to block all charges at that time. Carriers should also clearly and prominently inform consumers of options to block charges from third parties while accounts are active, including on the carriers' websites. Additionally, carriers should consider offering consumers the ability to block or allow only specific providers, or to block commercial providers only.
  • Fourth, all charges for third-party services should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed to consumers in a non-deceptive manner. In particular, on a phone bill, the name of the service and any associated bill heading should relate to the product offered and not suggest an affiliation with the carrier's service. Carriers should consider ways to make third-party charges more conspicuous, such as by providing separate subtotals for carrier and third-party charges wherever total charges are disclosed. Carriers also should consider whether consumers who auto-pay their bills would benefit from receiving a separate notification of third-party charges. Further, consumers with prepaid phone plans who do not typically receive phone bills should receive such a notification from the carrier.

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