New rules to protect against high phone bills

New rules to protect against high phone bills

Unexpectedly high telephone bills arising from Internet dialers and premium-rate phone services will soon be tackled by new service provider rules being developed by the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).

A discussion paper released by the ACA will gather public comment on the issue as part of the process.

ACA Chairman, Tony Shaw, said that in response to community concern, the Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, had directed the ACA to make the service provider rules for 190 premium services and numbers accessed via an international access code.

The rules will require service providers to bar future calls to numbers with a prefix of 190 for the remainder of a calendar month where charges incurred by a customer for those services exceed a specified cap. The ACA has suggested a $250 cap.

The guidelines also require service providers to provide information to customers about the potential for higher telephone bills when calling 190 and international numbers, and an explanation of the options available to lessen the risk of unexpected bills for these services.

“The ACA will also be looking at whether there is a need for additional regulatory measures for these services, including for the supply of sexually explicit material over the Internet,” Shaw said.

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