Phone Services

Published on April 18th, 2013

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FTC Pursues First Cell Cramming Case

The FTC announced Wednesday that it filed its first complaint against a company for mobile phone cramming, and signaled more action on the growing problem is to come.

“Cramming” is when phone customers are billed for services they did not order. In mobile phone cramming, unscrupulous companies place deceptive and confusing charges on customers’ cellphone bills in hopes that they either won’t notice the charges, or will assume the charges are legitimate and pay the bill. Often the charges appear in an abbreviated manner on the bill and are hard to detect.

The FTC has received more than 1,800 complaints of unauthorized charges on wireless bills since 2010, and the FCC has reported nearly 2,000 mobile cramming complaints since 2011.

The FTC’s complaint against Wise Media, LLC, Brian M. Buckley, and Winston J. Deloney alleges that the defendants sent text messages containing horoscopes and love tips to seemingly random numbers without the phone owners signing up for the service, and then charged them for the messages.

The FTC also alleges that Wise Media hid their contact information from consumers. When consumers were able to track down the company, Wise Media employees promised refunds that were often never delivered for the charges.

The agency asked the U.S. District Court in Georgia to freeze the defendants’ assets and order them to stop their deceptive and unfair practices.

Said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez:

As more and more consumers move to mobile phones, scammers have adapted to this new technology, and the Commission will continue its efforts to protect consumers from their unlawful practices.

In a Twitter chat Wednesday on mobile cramming, the FTC advised consumers to:

 

The FTC will be meeting in May with consumer advocates, industry representatives, and regulators to discuss how further to protect cellphone users from unauthorized chargers.

For more tips on protecting yourself from cramming and other types of cellphone fraud click here.

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Established in 1914 under President Woodrow Wilson, the FTC is the United States government’s primary regulatory authority in the area of consumer protection and anti-competitive business practices in the marketplace. Its Bureau of Consumer Protection assumes the lead in the Commission’s efforts to eliminate deceptive advertising and fraudulent business practices at work in the economy.

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