FTC seeking $52.6M for alleged bogus phone charges

May 8, 2012 By MARCY GORDON , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- Federal regulators are seeking $52.6 million from a billing company that they accuse of adding unauthorized charges to consumers' phone bills.

The announced Tuesday it has asked a federal court to issue a civil contempt ruling against Billing Services Group Ltd. and order repayment.

The agency says Billing Services added for unauthorized services such as voicemail and streaming video to bills for about 1.2 million phone lines, a practice known as "cramming." It says the acted on behalf of an individual it describes as a "serial phone crammer."

The FTC says the cramming occurred from 2006 through 2010 and added about $70 million in bogus charges to . It says San Antonio-based Billing Services violated a 1999 settlement with the agency that prohibited unauthorized billing.

A company spokeswoman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

The FTC called Billing Services the biggest third-party billing company in the U.S. Billing companies act as middlemen between phone companies and third-party vendors selling services. They collect charges for the vendors' services for the phone companies.

The agency asked a federal court in San Antonio to order Billing Services to pay $52.6 million, which it said is the amount that the company billed consumers and failed to refund.

In a court filing, the agency said the company worked with a "crammer" named Cindy Landeen and her associates to bill consumers for the unauthorized services, which included three voicemail services, one streaming , two identify-theft protection services, two directory assistance services and one job skills training service.

The company "made it possible for con artists to steal people's hard-earned money by placing charges on phone bills for services they never ordered or used," David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

Explore further: FCC seeks to crack down on phone bill mystery fees

0 shares

Related Stories

Senate panel looks into phone bill mystery fees

December 17, 2010

(AP) -- The Senate Commerce Committee is investigating several little-known companies for charging consumers mystery fees through their phone bills in a practice known as cramming.

Regulators seek to avoid surprises on cell bills

May 11, 2010

(AP) -- Federal regulators are considering rules that would require wireless phone companies to alert consumers before they reach roaming or data usage limits on their wireless plans.

Recommended for you

A not-quite-random walk demystifies the algorithm

December 15, 2017

The algorithm is having a cultural moment. Originally a math and computer science term, algorithms are now used to account for everything from military drone strikes and financial market forecasts to Google search results.

US faces moment of truth on 'net neutrality'

December 14, 2017

The acrimonious battle over "net neutrality" in America comes to a head Thursday with a US agency set to vote to roll back rules enacted two years earlier aimed at preventing a "two-speed" internet.

FCC votes along party lines to end 'net neutrality' (Update)

December 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit ...

The wet road to fast and stable batteries

December 14, 2017

An international team of scientists—including several researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory—has discovered an anode battery material with superfast charging and stable operation ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.