Did the “Un-carrier Network” charge “un-authorized” fees? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleges that it did, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. In a vote of 5-0, the Commission authorized the July 1, 2014 filing of a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleging that T-Mobile USA, Inc. “crammed” charges on mobile phone bills for supposed “premium” SMS subscriptions that were often bogus and unauthorized by customers. The FTC is seeking a court order permanently preventing T-Mobile from mobile cramming, refunds for consumers and “disgorgement” (payback) of cramming profits.
“Cramming” is the practice of adding charges to a consumer’s bill without his/her authorization. According to the FTC, T-Mobile USA crammed third-party charges on consumers’ mobile phone bills for years in exchange for 35 – 40% of the charges, even after seeing clear signs that those charges were fraudulent. The FTC’s press release, including a sample bill, showed that the charges are not listed on Page 1 but “123 pages later, under Premium Services, Other Service Provider Charges, the ‘Brain Facts’ text alerts show in the Description field as 8888906150 BrnStorm23918, total $9.99.” The suit also alleges that T-Mobile frequently claimed the subscriptions were authorized despite no proof, failed to provide full refunds and/or instructed consumers to obtain refunds from the third-parties without giving accurate contact information.
Responding to the FTC suit, T-Mobile’s CEO stated, “We have seen the complaint filed today by the FTC and find it to be unfounded and without merit,” as he asserts that T-Mobile stopped charging for the services in 2013 and already gave full refunds to affected customers.
To obtain the FTC’s assistance on this or any other alleged consumer fraud, either call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the online Complaint Assistant here: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1
DO’S AND DON’TS
DO contact your phone company about any charges you do not recognize and/or have not authorized.
DON’T give up if your phone company does not resolve your problem.
DO obtain the FTC’s assistance by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or using the online Complaint Assistant here: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1
By Kathy Catanzarite
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