T-Mobile Over-Charging Consumers

The Federal Trade Commission has brought forward legal action accusing the mobile phone carrier T-Mobile of over-charging consumers for a variety of services. The action, which was brought forward on Tuesday, accused the carrier of unauthorized billing, charging consumers for services that they never ordered. According to the New York Times:

In T-Mobile’s case, the F.T.C. said, fees for services like “flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip,” typically were for $9.99, of which 35 to 40 percent went to T-Mobile. In some cases, customers were charged for “years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent,” it said.

Jessica Rich, director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a briefing that T-Mobile had “ignored telltale signs of fraud” in the charges, harming many consumers.

This fact is quite concerning for consumers. If the FTC accusations are correct, T-Mobile has blatantly carried out a practice in which they directly took money from consumers. This clearly is not in the best interest of consumers, and can have direct impacts on a consumers wallet. However, T-Mobile claims that these practices have stopped. Yet, according to the New York Times, the FTC is contemplating taking action in the near future:

The F.T.C. is seeking refunds for consumers, and to permanently prevent T-Mobile from engaging in cramming. The commission lacks the power to impose its own fines for charges of consumer fraud, but the F.C.C. has that authority. In the last four years that agency has taken nine enforcement actions against companies for cramming that have totaled more than $33 million in proposed fines.

In order to combat practices such as these from occurring, consumers should pay attention to their bills when they receive them. If there are any charges that look out of the ordinary, it is recommended that consumers talk to their providers to understand why these charges occurred. Further, it is also recommended that consumers check to make sure that charges that need to be removed, are in fact removed by the company.

Read More- “US Accuses T-Mobile of Overbilling” (Edward Wyatt and Brian X. Chen, The New York Times)

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A rising senior at Colgate University, John is currently working as a research fellow with Consumers' Research.

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