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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FCC warns of prepaid calling card schemes

The Federal Communications Commission issued a public notice to caution consumers that some prepaid calling card companies are not providing the calling minutes advertised. Despite taking aggressive action against such companies and fining them a total of $25 million in the last nine months, "some carriers appear to be continuing these misleading practices," the FCC said. FCC investigations found companies charged undisclosed fees that reduced the number of calling minutes available to consumers to only a fraction of what was advertised. Calling card advertising apparently promised calling card buyers they could use "hundreds if not thousands of minutes to make calls to foreign countries," according to the FCC. In fact, callers could only use a fraction of those minutes because fees and surcharges depleted the value on the cards, the agency added.

The FCC found companies' explanations for the range of fees and other terms and conditions were "so vague that it was difficult for a consumer to know, when purchasing the cards, what fees would apply or how the fees would impact the number of calling minutes actually received." The agency cited a Consumers Union report to conclude that "prepaid calling card schemes remain a trap for unsuspecting consumers." end of article

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