FTC Seeks Return of $52 Million Worth of Bogus Phone Bill Cramming Charges

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on May 8, 2012

News release: “The Federal Trade Commission is seeking a civil contempt ruling against the nation’s largest third-party billing company, alleging that it placed more than $70 million in bogus “cramming” charges on consumers’ phone bills in violation of a previous court order. The FTC is asking a federal court to make the company pay more than $52.6 million, the total amount that the company billed consumers and failed to refund. The FTC alleged that Billing Services Group (BSG) placed charges on nearly 1.2 million telephone lines on behalf of a serial phone crammer. The charges were supposedly for “enhanced services,” such as voicemail and streaming video, that consumers never authorized or even knew about. “BSG 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,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Under previous federal court orders, BSG cannot profit from the fraud of others and then deny responsibility for the harm they made possible.”

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