CHICAGO – November 29, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that protects consumers from the deceptive and unauthorized telephone practice commonly known as “cramming.”
The new law prohibits third-party telecommunication providers from adding charges to a consumer’s telephone bill without their consent. The legislation is supported by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, industry leaders and watchdogs, including the Citizens Utility Board (CUB).
“I applaud the Illinois Attorney General’s hard work in support of this new law, which will combat the growing problem of unauthorized telephone surcharge scams,” said Governor Quinn. “Also, it is especially appropriate that this important consumer protection legislation be signed into law on the eve of CUB’s 25th Anniversary.”
Senate Bill 1421 amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by prohibiting third party service providers from charging consumers on their telephone bill unless: The charges and terms have been clearly disclosed; the consumer has expressly agreed to obtain the product or service offered; and the service provider has provided the consumer with a toll-free contact number.
Consumer consent must be verified by the telephone service provider before any charges are billed. Additionally, a record of the consent and verification must be maintained by the service provider for at least two years.
The practice of “cramming” is on the rise in Illinois and Illinois Attorney General Madigan has filed numerous lawsuits against companies participating in the practice. This new law will increase oversight and serve as a strong deterrent to those inclined to engage in telephone bill “cramming."
Senate Bill 1421, sponsored by Senator Michael Bond (D-Grayslake) and Representative John Bradley (D-Marion), was passed unanimously by the Illinois General Assembly. Also supporting this bill were the Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Telecommunications Association, AARP and Verizon.
Attending the bill signing ceremony with Governor Quinn was CUB Executive Director David Kolata, Illinois Telecommunications Association President Douglas Dougherty, and AARP’s Senior Director of Advocacy Nancy Nelson.