FCC launches 'bill shock' website to educate wireless consumers

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The Federal Communications Commission has launched a website designed to educate consumers regarding unexpected mobile phone charges collectively referred to as bill shock. The website keeps track of which major US carriers alert their customers as they approach thresholds that will introduce additional charges if exceeded.

The FCC and major wireless service providers inked a voluntary deal late last year known as the Consumer Code for Wireless Service. The guidelines dictate that consumers must be made aware of any pending overages in real-time for voice, data, SMS / text messages and international roaming.

Under the provisions, carriers will send two text message alerts: one when they are approaching a limit and a second when that limit has been breached. Wireless providers have until October 17, 2012 to provide at least two of the four alert types and comply with all alerts by April 17, 2013.

As of writing, T-Mobile USA is the most compliant of the 10 telecoms listed as they provide alerts for all categories. Verizon is second with alerts sent out for data and international roaming while AT&T provides data alerts and Sprint currently only offers notifications regarding international charges. AT&T and T-Mobile both receive an N/A in the text category as they offer unlimited plans. Of the six regional carriers, none have yet to comply with a single alert type.

The FCC notes that the list will be updated at least once a month as new information on compliance is provided by the CTIA.

Bill shock photo from Shutterstock.

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