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Prison phone company to expand most costly service?

by Aleks Kajstura, November 8, 2013

Securus, the same prison phone company that recently raised their exorbitant fees even higher, recently took steps [“Securus Technologies Buys ‘America’s Most Promising Company'”] to bolster their still-unregulated “single call” program.

Our report found that the phone companies set up these $10-15 “single call” programs to extract additional income from desperate consumers. Before the call can be connected, the recipient must first agree to either have a $9.99 to $14.99 “premium message” charged to their cellphone, or to pay that amount by credit or debit card. These “single call programs” are currently unregulated and far more profitable for the phone companies than the prepaid systems: Securus’ $14.99 charge is $1.80 for the call and a $13.19 “processing fee”.

Securus seems to be committed to this profit mechanism, recently acquiring 3Cinteractive, a “mobile platform company”, having already previously secured 3Cinteractive’s patents for collect calls to cell phones.

But luckily for folks who live in Alabama, the Alabama Public Service Commission is keeping an eye out for $13 processing fees. The Commission recently concluded: “As more calls are completed using ‘text-to-collect’ and ‘pay now’, the average price for inmate calling will trend upward regardless of regulatory caps established for ICS usage rates and authorized fees.” And the Commission’s proposal to bring these calls under the same rate and fee caps as other prepaid and collect calls would create the country’s first regulation of this profit mechanism.

The Alabama Public Service Commission is still seeking comments on their proposed ICS reform, so we’ll keep you posted.

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