Inmate Telephone Service - FCC Consumer Facts

*** Learn how to save money on making and receiving inmate phone calls ***

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rules that ensure consumers are able to reach their preferred long distance telephone company or companies from public telephones, hotel phones, or other telephones served by operator service providers (OSPs). These rules also apply to telephones in public areas at correctional institutions, such as telephones located in visitation areas. The rules do not apply, however, to telephones used only by inmates. In most cases, inmates using “inmate-only” telephones are only allowed to make collect calls and do not have a right to access a preferred long distance telephone company. Additional restrictions, such as limits on the number of calls, call duration, or and calling hours apply to “inmate-only” telephones and may influence rates for calls from these telephones.

Identifying Rates for Collect Calls from Prisons

FCC rules require that, when an inmate places a collect call, each OSP must identify itself to the person receiving the call before connecting the call. Each OSP must also disclose, before connecting the call, how the receiving party may obtain rate quotations. Additionally, the OSP must permit the receiving party to terminate the telephone call at no charge before the call is connected. These rules apply only to interstate (between states) OSP calls. Most states, however, have similar rules for intrastate OSP calls.

Complaints – Where to File

To complain about rates for intrastate (within a state) collect calls from public phones in prisons, contact the state public utility commission in the state where the call originated and terminated. State public utility commission addresses may be found or in the blue pages or government section of your local telephone directory. To complain about interstate and international rates, file a complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint with the FCC.

Filing a Complaint with the FCC

You can file your complaint using an FCC on-line complaint form found at You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by e-mailing; calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:
Federal Communications Commission 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau 
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division 
445 12th Street, SW 
Washington, D.C. 20554.

What to Include in Your Complaint

The best way to provide all the information needed for the FCC to process your complaint is to complete fully the on-line complaint form. When you open the on-line complaint form you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the on-line complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:

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