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T-Mobile accused of making money off bogus billing

By The Associated Press

This article was published July 2, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators are urging consumers to go through their phone bills line by line after they accused T-Mobile US of wrongly charging customers for premium services, like horoscope texts and quirky ringtones, the customers never authorized.

The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that it is suing T-Mobile in a federal court in Seattle with the goal of making sure every unfairly charged customer sees a full refund. The lawsuit, the first of its kind against a mobile provider, is the result of months of stalled negotiations with T-Mobile, which says it is already offering refunds.

The practice is called "cramming": A third party stuffs a customer's bill with bogus charges such as $10-per-month horoscopes or updates on celebrity gossip. In this case, the FTC said, T-Mobile was working with third-party vendors being investigated by regulators and known to be the subject of numerous customer complaints. T-Mobile then made it difficult for customers to notice the added charge to their bill and pocketed up to 40 percent of the total, according to the FTC.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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