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.