Bryan Cohen Nov. 12, 2013, 8:02pm

MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) - Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell announced settlements Tuesday that will recover more than $900,000 for Vermonters for allegedly unauthorized payments on their landline phone bills.

Sorrell settled two lawsuits against 25 sellers of voicemail, email and other services, 11 principals of the sellers and two companies alleged to have facilitated the placement or marketing of the charges. The entities and individuals involved in the settlements include Myinfoguard LLC, Nationwide Assist LLC, Solo Communications LLC, Total Protection Plus LLC, United Communications Link LLC, Voicexpress Inc., Contact Message Systems LLC, Nations 1st Communications LLC, New Link Network LLC, Nations Voice Plus LLC, Betty Stewart, Robert Poitras, Dennis Kallivokas, Nicholas Delcorso, Neil Williams, Luis Ruelas, Scott Lucas, Bryan Glaus, Vincent Delcorso, Joseph Marinucci, Nicholas Kallivokas, Dadata Inc., Enhanced Services Billing Inc., Blvd Network LLC, Coast To Coast Voice LLC, Emergency Roadside Voicemail LLC, First Rate Voice Services LLC, Meteline Tech Inc, PBA Services Inc., Roadside Pal, LLC, Selected Services Inc., Selected Options Inc., Trivoice International Ltd, USA Voice Mail Inc. and Vox Trail Ltd.

"As a result of our investigations, we were able to convince the legislature to ban nearly all third-party charges on landline phone bills," Sorrell said. "We have been trying to recoup crammed payments made by Vermonters. With this settlement, we will have returned nearly $2.3 million to over 25,000 Vermonters. We now turn our attention to cramming on cell phone bills."

Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants must refund all amounts paid by the affected Vermonters, in addition to paying a $725,000 penalty to the state.

According to a survey commissioned by Sorrell's office in early 2013, 60 percent of the third-party charges on Vermont mobile phone bills were unauthorized. Close to 80 percent of the people surveyed did not know that third-party charges could be placed on their cell phone bills. Landline and mobile cramming costs Americans an estimated $2 billion per year, according to Consumer Reports.

Sorrell's office is leading a 45-state effort of state attorneys general to address cramming on mobile phones.

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