Consumer Catch-up: Airline tickets going up, FCC phone scam crackdown, paying for college confusion

Airline ticket prices rising

A plane trip for your summer vacation will likely cost you a bit more this year.

Analysts say higher fuel prices are cutting into airline profits. Oil is currently selling for about $65 a barrel.

Airlines could make a number of changes to add to their bottom line - raising base fares, adding fuel surcharges, or simply selling less of the least expensive seats.

Prices may be higher for quite some time. Delta says it could take up to a year to recoup the extra fuel costs.

FCC cracking down on phone charges

The Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on unauthorized phone charges.

Today, the FCC approved new rules to ban practices called "slamming" and "cramming."

Slamming is changing a customer's telephone company without their consent, and cramming is charging a customer's phone bill without their consent.

The practices are sometimes used via what's known as the "yes" scam, when companies record you saying "yes" on the phone and use that recording to authorize fraudulent charges.

As of today, the FCC explicitly bans misrepresentations during sales calls. Any phone companies that do not comply may be suspended for five years.

Confusion about paying for college

A new study finds 36 percent of colleges don't make it clear to students what they will actually have to pay, and there are significant discrepancies in talking about financial options.

That's according to think tank New America and nonprofit uAspire, which looked at 11,000 financial aid letters. The report finds those letters are often confusing or unclear, difficult to compare with one another, and have different methods of tallying up total costs.

The study says the letters include confusing jargon, vague definitions, and don't always explain the difference between loans and scholarships. More than a third of the letters did not include overall cost information, and only half gave clear next steps to students about how to actually accept or decline the awards.

Researchers say policymakers need to come up with nationwide standards for the award letters, and use common terms, calculations, and formats to help students and parents make this important financial decision.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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