T-Mobile Scam: FTC Alleges T-Mobile Bilked Customers Out of Over $100,000,000

The federal Trade Commission files a complaint against T-Mobile for cramming charges from third-party companies costing customers millions of dollars
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) isn’t too happy with mobile phone service provider T-Mobile. They allege T-Mobile has been bilking their customers out of hundreds of millions of dollars by charging them monthly premium subscriptions which were, in many cases, never authorized by the T-Mobile customer. These services, such as celebrity gossip or horoscope information came with a monthly charge which was typically $9.99. When this charge was billed to T-Mobile customers, T-Mobile would get as much as a 35% to 40% cut of the charge.

Known as “third-party billing,” T-Mobile would place the charge on their customer’s bill for services the customer received from another company. This is perfectly legal if the customer has signed up with the service. When the charges are placed on a customer’s bill without their authorization through some type of scam, this is referred to as “cramming.” This is not legal and what the FTC alleges T-Mobile was tacitly permitting to happen, then continue, for the revenue it generated.

Some of the FTC allegations are as follows:

T-Mobile charged customers for services which brought in so many complaints that T-Mobile was forced to refund as many as 40% of the charges. With refund rates this high, T-Mobile should have known the charges from these companies were never authorized by the customers, and should have refunded them all. They may have been aware this scam was going on since 2012.

T-Mobile purposely made it difficult for customers to understand they were being charged for the services. The bills didn’t show the charges were coming from a third party, or that it was a monthly reoccurring charge. Instead, the charges were listed by a generic names such as “Premium Services.”

T-Mobile bills were so long it made it nearly impossible for consumers to locate and understand the third-party subscription charges. As the FTC said, “After looking past a ‘Summary’ section as well as an ‘Account Service Detail’ section, both of which described ‘Usage Charges’ but did not itemize those charges, a consumer might then reach the section labeled ‘Premium Services,’ where the crammed items would be listed…The information would be listed there in an abbreviated form, such as ‘8888906150BrnStorm23918,’ that did not explain that the charge was for a recurring third-party subscription supposedly authorized by the consumer.”

an example of how T-Mobile hid cramming charges in their bills
It was even worse for customers who had prepaid calling plans. These customers never even received the monthly bill, and as a result had no idea the third-party fees that were being deducted from their prepaid account at all.

It didn’t end even if the customers were able to detect the fraudulent charges. The FTC alleges that T-Mobile outright refused refunds to some customers, offered only partial refunds to others, and sometimes even directed the customer to trying get the refund directly from the scammer. At times, T-Mobile claimed the customer had authorized the charges even though they had no proof the customer had done so.

The FTC is seeking through the complaint to make T-Mobile pay back all the ill-gotten charges to consumers. If you believe you may have had some of these charges billed to you on your T-Mobile account, you can contact the FTC to file a complaint online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

(Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart)

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One Response to T-Mobile Scam: FTC Alleges T-Mobile Bilked Customers Out of Over $100,000,000

  1. Subscriber says:

    The cell phone providers are ALL crooked and do the same thing. Unfortunately, there are very few companies to choose from. The FTC shouldn’t require people to have to sign up to (have their names shown publicaly) show that they were ripped off. They should automatically include ALL subscribers in their suit and refund the money without requiring customers to jump.

    FYI: Do NOT use autopay to pay your monthly phone bill.

    I used a credit card to pay my monthly bill. Then I switched to paying cash at their store location, but they (cell co.) kept billing my card. DOUBLE DIPPING. This went on for three months of going back and forth with the credit card company/cell company.

    FINALLY the credit card co. told me they needed a confirmation number from the cell company BEFORE they would stop letting them steal from me. Why didn’t they tell me this during the first call?????

    They said it wouldn’t matter if I closed my account! So long as Cell co. said I owed money they would get it until the sky turned black.

    WTF??? WHO is the customer of EITHER of these companies?

    The credit card co. explained that the cell company could keep doing this until I gave the credit card co a confirmation number that would stop this.

    The cell company NEVER TOLD ME THIS.

    WHY? Because they liked passing me around like a cheap whore until I finally got a newspaper reporter call the public relations dept of said cell company. Only that got someone to put a stop to this.

    I will NEVER allow my credit card to autopay anything, EVER AGAIN.

    Word to the wise. NEVER USE AUTOPAY unless you like being majorly screwed.


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