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T-Mobile pays $90 million to settle cramming complaints

Wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc. agreed to pay $90 million to settle state and federal claims it billed customers for unauthorized charges.
Wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc. agreed to pay $90 million to settle state and federal claims it billed customers for unauthorized charges. The Associated Press

T-Mobile US Inc. agreed Friday to pay $90 million to settle state and federal claims that it billed customers for unauthorized charges from other companies, a practice called cramming.

Its settlement mirrors a $105 million settlement AT&T Inc. reached with the same state and federal agencies in October.

It also comes two days after Sprint Corp. was sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over cramming charges. Sprint, which has defended its billing practices, is the only telecom company sued so far by the consumer bureau.

T-Mobile and AT&T reached their settlement with the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of 49 states and the District of Columbia. New York’s attorney general announced T-Mobile’s settlement.

Cramming is a practice that regulators say thrived between 2004 and 2013. Schemers, they say, lured consumers with free offers to gain their cellphone numbers and then billed them through premium text messages for unauthorized purchases of horoscopes and other items.

Wireless carriers, the charges have said, did not monitor these billings properly or allow customers adequate avenues for refunds.

T-Mobile’s agreement, according to the New York announcement, requires it to make several changes to ensure it bills customers only for authorized charges.

It also will make $67.5 million available for refunds of overcharges that occurred after Jan. 1, 2010. Customers can pursue claims for refunds online or by calling 855-382-6403.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @mdkcstar.

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