FCC Follows FTC’s Lead, Will Investigate T-Mobile Cramming Complaints


On July 1, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against T-Mobile USA, Inc., alleging it made “hundreds of millions of dollars by placing charges on mobile phone bills for purported ‘premium’ SMS subscriptions that, in many cases, were bogus charges that were never authorized by its customers.”  The FCC is following the FTC’s lead, and has announced that it too is investigating complaints that T-Mobile billed its customers for millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party subscriptions and premium text messaging services.  According to an FCC News Release, “[n]umerous T-Mobile subscribers have filed complaints with the FCC and the FTC alleging that unauthorized charges for unwanted third-party services were added to their T-Mobile wireless telephone bills.  The unwanted charges included billing for ringtones, wallpapers, and text message subscriptions to services providing horoscopes, flirting tips, and celebrity gossip.”  In an official response, T-Mobile CEO John Legere stated that the FTC’s complaint is “unfounded and without merit.”  He further stated that “T-Mobile stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and launched a proactive program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want.”  In recent years, both the FCC and FTC have taken numerous enforcement actions against companies for cramming violations which have resulted in fines totaling tens of millions of dollars.

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