WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The Enforcement Bureau of the
Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) has announced a settlement with AT&T
Services to resolve allegations the company “crammed” unauthorized third-party
charges on consumers’ wireless telephone bills.
The FCC considers unauthorized charges and fees on consumer
telephone bills an “unjust and unreasonable” practice. Unauthorized charges are
therefore barred by the Communications Act.
According to the FCC, AT&T allowed scammers to charge
consumers $9 dollars a month for an allegedly sham directory assistance
service. The purported scam was found by the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) while it it was looking to drug-related scams.
“A phone bill should not be a tool for drug traffickers,
money launderers, and other unscrupulous third parties to fleece American
consumers,” said Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc. “[This] settlement
ensures AT&T customers who were charged for this sham service will get
their money back and that all AT&T consumers will enjoy greater protections
against unauthorized charges on their phone bills in the future.”
AT&T will issue full refunds to all current and former
customers victimized by the alleged scam. The refunds will total close to $6.8
million. Additionally, AT&T will pay the U.S. Treasury a $950,000 fine.