FTC Releases Agenda for Telephone Bill Cramming Forum

For Your Information

The Federal Trade Commission has announced the agenda for its day-long public forum in Washington, D.C., on May 11, 2011, to examine telephone bill cramming and explore possible solutions to reduce unauthorized third-party billing on telephone bills. The forum will focus on how the government, businesses, and organizations can work together to reduce cramming through business practices, law enforcement, and possible legislation.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required, but is strongly encouraged. Interested parties are invited to submit written comments to crammingforum@ftc.gov by May 2, 2011.

The forum will be videotaped and will be available for viewing on the FTC website beginning May 13. The agenda for the forum is below.

Examining Phone Bill Cramming:
A Discussion

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Registration begins
9:00 - 9:30

Introductory Remarks
9:30 - 10:30
Session 1: Cramming - How Does It Happen and What Is the Injury? 
This panel will describe the nature of landline telephone-bill cramming that law enforcers have investigated and prosecuted. This panel will discuss the ways in which unauthorized charges are placed on the landline telephone bills of consumers and small businesses, the kinds of goods and services that are being billed, and the resulting injury
10:30 - 10:45
10:45 - 11:55
Session 2: What Steps Does the Telephone Billing Industry Take to Detect, Monitor, and Prevent Cramming?
This session will examine the steps that industry currently takes to prevent, detect, and halt telephone bill cramming. The discussion will address the steps taken to keep crammers from accessing the billing platform, to monitor billing data and complaints to detect ongoing cramming, and to take action to expel crammers from the billing platform and ensure that they do not return. The panel will discuss how effective these steps have been in identifying and preventing cramming.
Break for Lunch
1:30 - 2:30
Session 3: Approaches to Cramming Prevention: How Are the Mobile and Landline Billing Platforms Different?
This session will examine the different approaches to third-party billing and cramming prevention between the mobile and landline telephone billing platforms. Do the two platforms differ in procedures for screening third-party billers, monitoring cramming activity, and taking action against billers who submit unauthorized charges? Are the mechanisms used to ensure customer authorization different? What cramming prevention mechanisms and best practices could translate from one platform to the other? What cramming prevention mechanisms and best practices would be difficult or impossible to adopt due to technological or other differences between the platforms?
2:30 - 2:45
2:45 - 4:00
Session 4: Potential Solutions to the Cramming Problem
This session will discuss potential solutions to enable industry, consumers, and law enforcers to better prevent, detect, and reduce telephone bill cramming. Panelists will discuss specific ideas such as allowing consumers to request a block on all third-party billing, requiring third parties to get written approval from consumers before placing charges on their phone bills, improving disclosure of third-party charges to consumers, and creation of a registry of telephone numbers of consumers who do not want any third party billing. This panel also will address how to implement these potential solutions to the cramming problem.
4:00 - 4:15 Closing Remarks

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Contact Information

Claudia Bourne Farrell
Office of Public Affairs