Category Archives: Legislation

FCC launches new mobile broadband coverage map

The FCC has launched a new mobile broadband coverage map that shows the 4G LTE mobile coverage areas of the nation’s four largest mobile wireless carriers.  This map was made available as a result of the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act of 2020.

The FCC also publishes maps that list the general availability of broadband internet services.

Hospital Price Transparency rule in effect on January 1st 2021

U.S. Hospitals must list the price they charge for at least 300 different services as of January 1, 2021 according to the new Hospital Price Transparency law.  The price lists must be in a consumer-friendly display format as well as downloadable data file formats on each hospital’s website.  More resources regarding this new rule can be found at www.cms.gov/hospital-price-transparency/resources.

The No Surprises Act of 2020 is a separate ruling that expands restrictions on charging health care plan holders out-of-network rates for certain services. This is set to go into effect in 2022.

Update: Three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – announced changes to medical collection debt reporting in March 2022.  Effective July 1, 2022, paid medical collection debt will no longer be included on consumer credit reports. In addition, the time period before unpaid medical collection debt would appear on a consumer’s report will be increased from 6 months to one year.  These credit reporting agencies will also no longer include medical collection debt under $500 on their credit reports starting in the first half of 2023.

 

Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA) and modem rental fees

The Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 (TVPA) requires providers of internet, voice, mobile, and data to engage in transparent sales and billing.  It also prevents providers from charging a consumer for using equipment not provided by the service provider, such as a modem.   The FCC granted providers an extension for this legislation until December 20, 2020.  Modem rental fees should not be charged to consumers who provide their own equipment after that date.

Credit bureaus giving free weekly credit reports now through April 2021

The three major U.S. credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – will now allow Americans to receive free weekly credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com for a year starting April 20th 2020.   These credit reports were previously only free once a year under federal law.

The Federal Reserve Board announced on April 24, 2020 an interim final rule to amend Regulation D for bank transfers.  Previously, only 6 or fewer bank savings accounts transfers per month were allowed, but this is no longer the case.

TRACED Act sets fines for robocallers

The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act) was signed into law on December 30, 2019.  This new U.S. law will set fines on spam robocallers and requires phone companies to adapt call authentication technologies to deter robocalls.   The FTC and FCC government agencies also have some instructions to reduce the number of received robocalls.

Spam text messages should not be responded to, including the STOP reply.  This lets the sender know that the phone number is legitimate.  Do not click any links in these text messages. These unwanted messages can be be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by forwarding them to 7726 (SPAM).

File income taxes for free using the IRS Free File Program

U.S. taxpayers have the option to file their income taxes for free using the Free File Program from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $69,000 or less (2019 tax year requirement).   The tax preparer must start the filing process at www.irs.gov/freefile instead of a commercial tax software website in order to avoid being prompted for payment.

The Free File program is part of an agreement between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a coalition of tax software companies.