2017-06-07 / Features

Peralta, IDC Unveil Report Examining Prepaid Calling Cards

According to an investigation conducted by NYS Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens) and the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), most of the popular brands offer poor quality calls, drop calls frequently, carry hidden fees or overcharge their customers. Peralta introduced an omnibus bill, S.6142, to tackle prepaid calling card issues on a state level, which will require companies to guarantee quality service, expand disclosure requirements and require companies list contact information for government agencies where consumers could seek recourse.According to an investigation conducted by NYS Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens) and the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), most of the popular brands offer poor quality calls, drop calls frequently, carry hidden fees or overcharge their customers. Peralta introduced an omnibus bill, S.6142, to tackle prepaid calling card issues on a state level, which will require companies to guarantee quality service, expand disclosure requirements and require companies list contact information for government agencies where consumers could seek recourse.
Many New Yorkers, a vast majority of them immigrants, rely on international prepaid calling cards to call their loved ones. It appears to be an affordable, cheap alternative to landlines and monthly phone plans. Unfortunately, according to an investigation conducted by NYS Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens) and the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), most of the popular brands offer poor quality calls, drop calls frequently, carry hidden fees or overcharge their customers.

The report, “Calling Home? Senator Peralta Takes a Hard Look at Prepaid Calling Cards,” found that about 61% of consumers surveyed experienced bad reception while using calling cards, 80% of people surveyed had dropped calls while using a prepaid calling card, and 72% used a prepaid calling card that had fewer minutes available than advertised. Additionally, buyers have few options to file complaints, which makes it difficult for enforcement agencies to tackle the practices of bad actors.

“My constituents are being ripped off when using prepaid calling cards to get in touch with their loved ones back home, with very poor quality communication and calls cutting out. We must ensure that we end these bad practices, which mainly affect our hard working immigrant families. We tested some of the most popular prepaid calling card brands, and they are providing consumers with deficient service,” said Senator Peralta, Vice Chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee. “We have an obligation to protect consumers from unfair businesses practices. The current political climate, sadly, disregards the protection of the consumer rights of immigrants, and we need to step in and make sure they get the services they pay for.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provide information regarding bad practices by prepaid calling card companies. These federal agencies, however, have not updated their guidelines in years, and they do not act swiftly against the companies that provide deceptive service. In 2012, the FTC unveiled charges against a prepaid card company that included a scheme to target immigrant communities. The report points out that although the “FTC recognizes the severity of the issues, nevertheless, little changed in the regulation has occurred on the federal level.”

Peralta introduced an omnibus bill, S.6142, to tackle prepaid calling card issues on a state level, which will require companies to guarantee quality service, expand disclosure requirements and require companies list contact information for government agencies where consumers could seek recourse.

For more on this story, visit QGazette.com.

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