WASHINGTON, D.C. — Verizon Wireless has agreed to pay $90 million and Sprint $68 million to settle charges that the mobile giants allowed phony charges on their customers’ monthly bills.
According to federal regulators, the two mobile providers had partnered with third-party vendors that sell premium text messaging services, such as daily horoscopes, trivia and sports scores.
But consumers who hadn’t signed up for the services were being billed anyway, typically between $9.99 and $14 a month.
According to the FCC, Verizon retained 30-percent or more of each third-party charge billed, and Spring received around 35-percent.
“For too long, consumers have been charged on their phone bills for things they did not buy,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “We call these fradulent charges ‘cramming,’ and with today’s agreements we are calling them history for Verizon and Sprint customers.
Regulators said they launched an investigation after receiving numerous complaints that the carriers had refused to refund the charges.
Both companies said in statements emailed to reporters on Tuesday that they had stopped allowing premium text messaging before the government investigation began and that the settlements reflect their commitment to customer service.
Sprint customers can submit claims at www.SprintRefundPSMS.com or can get more information by calling 877-389-8787.
Verizon customers can submit claims at www.CFPBSettlementVerizon.com and can get more information by calling 888-726-7063.