Quinn signs law to outlaw phone 'cramming'

By WEEK Reporter
By Web Producer

Quinn signs law to outlaw phone 'cramming'

July 18, 2012 Updated Jul 18, 2012 at 1:24 PM CDT

CHICAGO -- Governor Pat Quinn signed four new laws Wednesday, designed to increase protections for consumers.Those laws not only call for lowering utility costs for consumers and helping consumers improve their credit scores by resolving billing issues, but also put a stop to false phone charges, known as "cramming".

The practice of "cramming" has become a $2 billion a year business, according to a release from the Governor's office. Vendors will often use deceptive sales pitches and place unauthorized charges on consumers' phone bills for items such as calling cards, voice mail service, and extended warranties. 

Most often, charges range from $10 to $45 and typically go undetected.  Only about one out of every 20 cramming victims is aware of the false charges. 

Now, House Bill 5211 aims to outlaw it altogether.

"No one should have to pay for services they don't want and didn't order," said Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), one of the sponsors of the bill.  "The fact that 'cramming' scam artists target seniors and other vulnerable Illinois residents makes me especially proud that we are outlawing this practice."

The law goes into effect starting January 1, 2013.

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