Unwanted Calls

Many people receive unwanted calls at one time or another—even though their telephone number is on the Do Not Call Registry. These calls can be difficult to stop because the scam artists placing them are often engaged in criminal enterprises designed to steal people’s money and have no regard for the law. As a result, they are not dissuaded by the fact that a person’s telephone number is on the Do Not Call Registry. Our brochure, "Do Not Call Registry and Unwanted Calls," has additional resources for people dealing with this problem.

Telephone Bills

Landline telephone bills can be dense and confusing. The terms used by telephone companies—phrases like “customer line charge,” “interstate access charge,” and “universal connectivity fee,” among others—can be puzzling. Moreover, telephone subscribers are sometimes billed incorrectly or for services they did want or receive. Our flyer on telephone bills has more information on how to decipher your telephone bill and tips on how to make sure it is accurate.

Telephone Cramming

Most people are unaware that their phone bill can sometimes be used like a credit card, allowing third-party companies to place charges on the bill for unrelated services or merchandise. Crammed charges are often buried in the fine print of a phone bill, priced as small amounts and appearing as innocuous-sounding names, such as “telephone services” or “long distance minutes,” to fly under the radar and avoid detection. If you notify your landline phone company that an unauthorized charge from a third party was included on your bill, the phone company must remove the charge. Your phone company must also credit your account for any amounts you paid for the unauthorized charges in the last six months, unless the third party that put the charges on your phone bill can produce within 14 days evidence that you “expressly authorized” the charges. For more information on this practice and your rights if you have been crammed, read our brochure "Don’t Get "Crammed"—Avoid Unwanted Charges on Your Phone Bill."

Cell Phones

Most people now use cell phones. Identifying a cell phone and service plan that best suits your needs can be difficult. We have prepared a brochure, titled "Wireless Phones," which contains guidelines and tips for purchasing cell phone service.

Telephone Slamming

Slamming occurs when your long distance or local service provider is switched to another company without your knowledge or permission. Many people do not know that they were slammed until they get a phone bill from a different company, often charging higher rates. If you have been slammed, contact your local phone company and ask them to switch you back to your preferred company. You should also request that any switching fees be refunded to you. More information on this practice and your rights if you have been slammed is available in our brochure "Telephone Slamming."

Phone Service Discount Programs

Minnesota’s Telephone Assistance Plan and the federal government’s Lifeline program provide monthly discounts for one cell phone or telephone line per household. To qualify for these programs, residents must meet eligibility guidelines. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has more information about the Telephone Assistance Plan. Additional information on the Lifeline program can be found on the Federal Communications Commission’s website.

If you have a question or experience a problem related to your telephone service or bill, we want to hear from you. You may call us at (651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area) or (800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities), or submit a Consumer Assistance Request Form.

Additional Resources

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office offers the following materials, which are designed to provide information to Minnesota citizens about telephone related topics:

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) is the state agency with authority to regulate landline telephone service and administer the Telephone Assistance Plan and Lifeline programs. For more information or to file a complaint, contact the MPUC as follows:

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
121 Seventh Place East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-0406 or (800) 657-3782

Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the authority to enforce federal laws regulating caller ID spoofing and autodialed and prerecorded message calls. The FCC also has the authority to take action against companies engaged in cramming and slamming. For more information or to file a complaint, contact the FCC as follows:

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
(888) 225-5322

Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal agency that has authority to take action against deceptive, fraudulent and unfair business practices in the marketplace. It also has authority to enforce federal laws regulating autodialed and prerecorded message calls, enforce violations of the National Do Not Registry, and take action against companies engaged in cramming. For more information or to file a complaint, contact the FTC as follows:

Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
(877) 382-4357
TTY: (866) 653-4261