JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced a settlement Monday with a New Jersey communications company for allegedly putting unauthorized charges on customers' telephone bills, a practice known as cramming.
In March 2012, Koster sued V&T Communications, doing business as Odyssey Communication Services, for allegedly charging some Missourians $14.95 per month for a commercial-free streaming internet radio service consumers did not consent to buy. Crammers often obtain consumer information through free offers, trials or other incentivized marketing plans that is used to enroll the consumers in third-party content provider services or products.
"Today's phone bills often include numerous pages of numbers and charges, and it can be difficult to discern legitimate from illegitimate charges," Koster said. "Our office will continue to protect consumers from companies that take advantage of them with unauthorized charges."
Under the terms of the settlement, V&T Communications will pay $7,729.15 in refunds to non-AT&T customers in Missouri who were charged for the radio services. V&T Communications will also pay $10,000 in penalties to the state and $5,000 to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Revolving Fund. Eligible consumers will receive notification and claim forms from a settlement administrator.
V&T Communications is also permanently prohibited from charging Missourians for products or services via their landline telephone bills and from charging consumers with Missouri area codes via their cell phones for a two year period.
In a separate class action settlement, Missouri AT&T customers will receive $209,300.