FTC files complaint against T-Mobile: 4 things to look for on next cell phone bill

If you're a T-Mobile customer, you could be due some money back.
 
The Federal Trade Commission alleges T-Mobile placed bogus charges on customers bills and made millions doing it.
 
I'm talking about third party charges for things like ringtones, wallpaper, and text messages providing horoscopes, flirting tips and celebrity gossip.
 
The FTC says T-Mobile hid them on bills making it difficult for consumers "to detect they were being charged, much less by whom." .
 
On a sample T-Mobile bill provided by the FTC, it shows something called "use" charges.
 
But there is no explanation.
 
If you look further, you'll see the charges are for "messaging" and "premium services" and may not be enough to alarm customers.
 
The FTC complaint filed Tuesday, says the Third party charges brought in "hundreds of millions" of dollars..
 
The complaint also alleges T-Mobile ignored an increasing number of consumer complaints about the issue.
 
It alleges the company told some consumers "they authorized the charge despite the fact the defendant did not have records of the authorization."
 
The practice is called cramming. 
 
The FTC says it's asking a court to stop T-Mobile from the same practice and to issue refunds to consumers.
 
On it's website, the T-Mobile CEO responded:
 
We have seen the complaint filed today by the FTC and find it to be unfounded and without merit.  In fact T-Mobile stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and launched a proactive program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want.
 
T-Mobile is fighting harder than any of the carriers to change the way the wireless industry operates and we are disappointed that the FTC has chosen to file this action against the most pro-consumer company in the industry rather than the real bad actors.
 
As the Un-carrier, we believe that customers should only pay for what they want and what they sign up for. We exited this business late last year, and announced an aggressive program to take care of customers and we are disappointed that the FTC has instead chosen to file this sensationalized legal action. We are the first to take action for the consumer and I am calling for the entire industry to do the same. 
 
This is about doing what is right for consumers and we put in place procedures to protect our customers from unauthorized charges. Unfortunately, not all of these third party providers acted responsibly-an issue the entire industry faced.  We believe those providers should be held accountable, and the FTC’s lawsuit seeking to hold T-Mobile responsible for their acts is not only factually and legally unfounded, but also misdirected. "
-- John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile USA
 
Whichever cell phone provider you have, you need to protect yourself:
 
- Read every bill thoroughly. 
 
- Concentrate on "usage", "service" or other extra charges.
 
- If the costs don't add up, file a complaint with the provider and the FTC.
 
Consider blocking all 3rd party charges. Some providers offer it.
 
Need my help?
 
You can call 1-855-323-1515. The Assistance League of Phoenix volunteers are there live Wednesdays and Fridays 11-1. You can leave a message anytime.
 
You can also send me an e-mail .
 
You can also send me a :"tweet" or "like" my Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me about it there.
 
 
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Let Joe Know protects YOU the consumer. We expose scams and hold businesses accountable for their contracts and agreements. Most important, we share consumer red flags before they hit your wallet!

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