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FCC Could Help You Avoid "Bill Shock" from Cell Phone Charges

The Federal Communications Commission is considering rules that would require cell phone companies to notify customers if they are running up their cell phone bills. The idea is designed to help consumers avoid what the FCC calls "bill shock."

You know what that is -- you open your cell phone bill and expect to see a certain number, but are shocked at all of the data, roaming and other fees you accumulated over the month.

The commission says it regularly receives complaints from consumers about bills with unexpected charges. The FCC says often times, these are caused by misunderstandings in the cell phone contract.

Wireless carriers in Europe are required to send text messages to consumers when they are running up abnormal charges or getting close to specific limits.

“We’re issuing a Public Notice to see if there’s any reason that American carriers can’t use similar automatic alerts to inform consumers when they are at risk of running up a high bill,” said Joel Gurin of the FCC. “This is an avoidable problem. Avoiding bill shock is good for consumers and ultimately good business for wireless carriers as well.”

The cell phone companies are naturally against the FCC's plan, saying it is not necessary. They say there are already many ways for consumers to monitor their usage.


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