Swanson files 'cramming' lawsuit

Keith Loria Jan. 10, 2011, 12:58pm


ST. PAUL, Minn. (Legal Newsline) - Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced on Friday that she has filed a lawsuit against a company that allegedly engaged in unlawful "cramming" by adding over $15 per month to the phone bills of Minnesota consumers.

Cramming is the practice by which third-party vendors put unauthorized charges on a person's phone bill.

The Pennsylvania-based Cheap2Dial Telephone LLC allegedly placed the charges on phone bills for long distance calling minutes that were never authorized.

The company allegedly charged 2,567 Minnesota residents for its services since 2008. Only nine of the people charged actually used them.

"The company slipped unauthorized charges onto people's phone bills. Cramming works because most people don't realize that their phone bill can be used like a credit card," Swanson said. "Because phone bills are long and hard to read, people don't always catch unauthorized charges."

When Swanson contacted Cheap2Dial to produce documentation concerning the people it charged, she was given incorrect information for many consumers, including incorrect names, emails and birthdates, she claims.

Monthly fees for the service ranged from $13.97 to $14.97 per month, plus fees and taxes, pushing the total monthly charges to over $17, Swanson says.

In October 2009, Swanson asked the FCC to come up with new rules to help end cramming practices.

Swanson's suit seeks injunctive relief, restitution and civil penalties.

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