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FCC: Beware of Fee Phishing

The Federal Communications Commission warned broadcasters and others owing it regulatory fees that there may be Internet "phishers" posing as fee collectors.

The commission said it got complaints that nongovernmental agencies (translation: scam artists) "may be using Internet sites to misdirect parties seeking to submit their regulatory fee payments" in an attempt to collect financial information.

The FCC referred the complaints to the Inspector General, but in the meantime, it warned fee-payers to use its online site and accept no substitutes.

At least the commission has its priorities straight. On Friday, its home page led off with a link to emergency information in case of a hurricane -- there are at least three tropical storms or hurricanes stacked up in the Atlantic -- then reminded Web surfers that regulatory fees are due by close of business Thursday, Sept. 25.

In early August, the FCC proposed lowering some fees and raising others, but for the time being, cable operators have to pay 80 cents per subscriber and $205 for their license to operate a cable-antenna-relay service. TV stations owe anywhere from $71,050 for a top-market VHF to $1,800 for a small-market UHF. Low-power TV stations pay $1 per day in regulatory fees for their licenses.