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FCC Requires Rate Disclosure for Prison Phones

The Federal Communications Commission, (FCC) has issued regulations mandating the disclosure rates consumers will actually pay for phone calls received from prisoners. Effective October 1, 1999, 47 C.F.R. § 67.710 "Operator Services for Prison Inmate Phones", states in its entirety:

"(a) Each provider of inmate operator services services shall:

(i) Identify itself, audibly and distinctly, to the consumer before connecting any interstate, domestic, in interexchange telephone call and disclose immediately hereafter how the consumer may obtain rate quotations, by dialing no more than two digits or remaining on the line, for the first minute of the call and for additional minutes, before providing further oral advice to the consumer how to proceed to make the call;

(2) Permits the consumer to terminate the telephone call at no charge before the call is connected; and

(3) Disclose immediately to the consumer, upon request and at no charge to the consumer

(i) The methods by which its rates or charges for the call will be collected; and

(ii) The methods by which con hints concerning such rates, charges or collection practices will be resolved.

(4) Inmate telephone services means any interstate telecommunication service initiated front an innate telephone that includes, as a component any automatic or live assistance to a consumer to arrange for billing or completion, both of interstate telephone call, through a method other than:

(i) Automatic completion with billing to the telephone from which the call originated; or

(ii) Completion through an access code used by the consumer; with billing to an account previously established with the carrier by the consumer;

(5) Provider of inmate operator services means any common carrier that provides outbound interstate, domestic interexchange operator services from inmate telephones."

If, after October 1,1999, prison phone providers are not disclosing this information in out of state phone calls, prisoners and call recipients alike should complain to the FCC; prison officials and phone service providers. FCC Complaints should go to:

Common Carrier Bureau
Enforcement Division
Consumer Complaints, Stop 1600 AZ
Washington D.C. 20554

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