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The Federal Trade Commission is accusing T-Mobile of placing bogus charges on its users' bills, adding up to hundreds of millions of dollars.
In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court, the FTC claims T-Mobile allowed its customers to be victimized by third-party billing schemes known as "cramming." According to the FTC's complaint, T-Mobile retained up to 40% of the amount charged to customers by these third-party companies.
What is 'Cramming'?
"Cramming" is the name given to unauthorized subscription services added to phone bills such as horoscopes, ringtones, trivia, celebrity gossip, and dating tips. The charges for these services are typically for a small amount -- $9.99, for example -- an often go unnoticed on users' bills.
In the case of T-Mobile, the charges were further hidden in users' bills, the FTC asserts. On mobile bills, these third-party billing services were classified as "use charges":
How to Avoid Being 'Crammed'
The FTC advises consumers to take some simple precautions to avoid being victimized by third-party subscription services. For example:
If You Suspect 'Cramming' On Your Bill...
Mobile phone users who find suspicious charges on their bill should first ask their carrier to explain the charges and provide information on how to dispute them.
If that doesn't solve the problem, consumers can file a complaint with the FTC online or by calling (877) FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).