Every year, millions of Americans are forced to pay higher phone bills as the result of a practice known as “bill shock.” “Bill shock” occurs when cell phone customers unexpectedly receive phone bills that are significantly higher than their typical monthly bill. A May 2011 survey by Consumer Reports found that one in five Americans had experienced bill shock. Because of the especially high rate of cell phone usage among African-Americans and Latinos, these communities are especially hard hit by this practice.
It can be difficult for consumers to know when they’re running up a surprisingly high wireless bill. Several major wireless providers have committed to sending customers alerts when they are about to exceed monthly limits on voice, texting and data or if they are going to begin incurring international roaming fees.
Click here for more information on wireless usage alerts.
Civil rights organizations are teaming up with media rights groups to make sure that our communities are protected – by holding industry accountable to the voluntary agreement to curb bill shock and giving our constituents a powerful voice when violations are detected.
FCC News on Bill Shock
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February 10, 2017 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
Facebook announced on Wednesday that it has finalized its prohibition of the use of ethnic affinity marketing that enables ad buyers to exclude racial minorities from ads offering housing, employment, or credit. Facebook will also require advertisers to affirm that they will not engage in discriminatory advertising on its platform.
March 17, 2016 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
By Peter Wagner
The Federal Communications Commission’s historic October 2015 order expanding its regulations of the prison and jail telephone industry goes into effect today. It’s a little complicated because prisons and jails have different effective dates, and part of the FCC’s order has been stayed by the federal courts. And on March 16, the FCC issued a public notice — which if the companies stay true to form, they are likely to challenge in court — reminding the companies that in-state calls are also to be capped. Barring new rulings from the court, here is what the families of incarcerated people can expect.
November 3, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
The White House on Monday unveiled new measures to ease the re-entry process for formerly incarcerated people, an announcement that marks a continuation of the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce incarceration’s collateral effects. One of those efforts is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent vote on a proposal to cap exorbitant prison calling rates and fees for in-state calls.
September 8, 2015 - Posted by Julie Faust
In response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) request for comments on its proposal to modernize the Lifeline program to include broadband, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights submitted comments to the FCC on August 31 strongly supporting the proposal and offering recommendations for the modernization effort.
June 11, 2015 - Posted by Julie Faust
On June 10, a broad coalition of more than 50 civil rights, media, public interest, and labor groups issued a public letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, urging the FCC to rapidly update the Lifeline program to support broadband access for low-income people. In its letter, the groups also detail a set of principles that they believe should guide the Commission’s work to modernize the program.
May 20, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
With communities across the country calling for greater accountability of local law enforcement, a coalition of 34 civil rights, privacy, and media rights organizations on May 15 released shared civil rights principles for the use of body-worn cameras.
May 8, 2015 - Posted by Cheryl Leanza
The Lifeline program allows our nation’s most vulnerable communities to maintain telephone service that would otherwise be unaffordable – service that is essential for connecting with loved ones, searching for employment, pursuing further education goals, engaging fully as citizens, and calling 911. But a recent GAO report, commissioned by Sen. John Thune, R. S.D., to evaluate the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) reforms to the Lifeline program, quickly drew fire from some Republican leaders. They allege that the FCC should not work on expanding the program to broadband until it addresses points raised in the GAO report.
February 6, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
As a follow-up to its 90-day review and subsequent report last year on big data policies, the White House on February 5 released an interim report to describe its progress thus far and its plans moving forward.
January 16, 2015 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
A coalition of civil rights, faith, labor, media justice, and other groups from around the country this week wrote in support of further reforms to lower predatory prison phone rates.
October 3, 2014 - Posted by Angela Pavao
Big data can be a valuable tool in fighting inequality and societal problems, but there is also a “growing need to protect and strengthen key civil rights protections in the face of technological change,” as a new report, Civil Rights, Big Data, and Our Algorithmic Future, explains.
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