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FCC Consumer Guide to Inmate Telephone Services and Revised Rules 2014

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Consumer Guide
Inmate Telephone Service
FCC rules that significantly reformed interstate Inmate Calling Service (ICS) rates and practices recently went into
effect in an effort to stem undue high costs to inmates’ families. In most cases, inmates’ telephone calling options
are limited to one or more of the following calling types: collect, debit account or pre-paid account. Also,
incarcerated persons typically may not choose their long distance service provider. These factors, combined with
unrestricted long-distance rates, often resulted in unreasonably high phone bills for inmates’ families.
The following revised rules took effect on Feb. 11, 2014:
New Rate Caps for Interstate Collect Calls from Prisons
The FCC rate caps for interstate calls are:

$0.25 per minute for collect calls
$0.21 per minute for debit or pre-paid calls

The FCC also capped the total cost of a call between two states including per-call charges. Those caps are:

$3.75 for a 15-minute call
$3.15 for a 15-minute debit or pre-paid call

Charges on inmate calls placed after Feb. 11, 2014, that exceed the new interstate rate caps are in violation of
federal rules.
Additional New Rules
In addition, providers of inmate calling services are now prohibited from assessing any additional charges or fees
when the inmate must use Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) equipment. (TRS is a telephone service that
allows persons with hearing or speech disabilities to place and receive telephone calls.) Read our TRS guide at
Moreover, no ICS provider may block a collect call solely because it lacks a prior billing relationship with the
called party’s telephone provider unless the provider also offers debit, pre-paid or pre-paid collect calling options.
FCC rules require that, when an inmate places a collect call, each operator service provider (OSP) must identify
itself to the person receiving the call before connecting the call. Each OSP must also disclose, before connecting
the call, how the receiving party may obtain rate quotations. Additionally, the OSP must permit the receiving party
to terminate the telephone call at no charge before the call is connected.
These rules apply only to interstate OSP calls.
Judicial Review of Other ICS Rules
On Jan. 13, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a partial stay of the Order
establishing the new ICS rules. Specifically, three of the rules (“Cost-Based Rates for Inmate Calling Services”;
“Interim Safe Harbor”; and “Annual Reporting and Certification Requirement”) are not in effect, pending further
judicial review.

Federal Communications Commission · Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau · 445 12th St. SW. Washington, DC 20554
1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) · TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) · Fax: 1-866-418-0232 ·

Filing a Complaint About Interstate ICS Rates
Complaints about interstate and international rates may be filed with the FCC. You can file your complaint using
an FCC online complaint form found at Please complete the online complaint form in
full. When you open the online complaint form, follow the series of prompts that will take you to the section you
need to complete.
You may also contact the FCC’s Consumer Center directly by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or
1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; or faxing 1-866-418-0232; or you may file your complaint by writing to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
Your complaint should include the following information:

Your name, address, email address and phone number where you can be reached
The name, phone number, city and state of the company that you are complaining about
The amount of any disputed charges, whether you paid them, whether you received a refund or adjustment to
your bill, the amount of any adjustment or refund you have received, an explanation if the disputed charges
are related to services in addition to residential or business telephone services
Details of your complaint and any additional relevant information

Filing a Complaint About Intrastate ICS Rates
Most states, however, have similar rules for intrastate (within a state) OSP calls. To complain about rates for
intrastate collect calls from public phones in prisons, contact the state public utility commission in the state where
the call originated and terminated. State public utility commission addresses may be found at or in the blue pages or government section of your local telephone directory.
For More Information
Visit the FCC’s Consumer Publications Library at
for information about this and other communications issues, or write to the address included above.
For this or any other consumer publication in an accessible format (electronic ASCII text, Braille, large print or audio),
please write or call us at the address or phone number below, or send an email to
This document is for consumer education purposes only and is not intended to affect any proceedings or cases
involving this subject matter or related issues.

Last Reviewed: 2/20/14

Federal Communications Commission · Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau · 445 12th St. SW. Washington, DC 20554
1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) · TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) · Fax: 1-866-418-0232 ·