Last week, MuckRock published an investigative report on prison phone call companies. It clearly shows that they are hitting prison loved ones with dubious charges.
These are not the best of times for thousands of people who have loved ones locked up behind prison bars. Apart from the pains of losing a loved one to correctional facilities, they accuse prison phone call companies of ripping them off via exaggerated call charges.
Thousands of prison families and friends have dispatched numerous complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They detail the dubious charges they have been receiving from companies that process collect calls from prisoners calling loved ones.
Inmate Calling Service Companies Win the Battle
Private prison phone call companies provide call services to prison inmates. Some of these companies include:
- City Tele Coin
- Regent Pay
- Global Tel Link
They are known as Inmate Calling Service (ICS) companies. Investigations revealed these ICS companies set up phone equipment in correctional facilities at virtually no costs at all to the government. But, they recoup their investments via high costs for prison calls.
These costs are paid for by the prison loved ones who support the inmates emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and often, financially.
A few years past, the FCC capped charges on prison calls. But, ICS providers challenged the regulation in court. The court later ruled that FCC had no rights to place limitations on call charges within state bounds. In other words, ICS providers are at liberty to charge consumers as much as they want.
Complaints Submitted to FCC Against ICS Providers
The problem, however, is that hundreds of customers complain to the FCC. They say that ICS providers:
- Charge them for prison calls that were never made
- Charge double or triple for calls per minute made
- Bill outrageous fees for loading required call credits
- Violate the US constitution and FCC regulations with unreasonable charges
- Fail to respond to queries or address complaints or explain their charges
- Deny ever seeing a number or billing a customer after charging via credit cards
Prison Phone Call Companies Need to Be Better Regulated
Thousands of such complaints are filed daily to the FCC regarding prison phone call companies. And, it appears the FCC is literally helpless to address the situation. It has no authority to help thousands of Americans who have loved ones in correctional facilities:
“’For the past 7 months I have spent over $5,000 to communicate with my husband,’ a complainant from Michigan wrote. ‘GTL is ripping honest customers off because they know they are the only option…their customer service is unbelieveably disrespectful and I don’t know what else to do. When calling with concerns they will literally laugh in your face or even hang up on you if they like…'”