Fighting phantom phone fees
A sure way to see smoke coming out of consumers’ ears: Put charges on their phone bills for services they never ordered and didn’t authorize. In a lawsuit just filed against Montana-based American eVoice, Steven Sann, and others, that’s what the FTC says is going on.
It’s the latest in a long line of law enforcement actions challenging the practice of “cramming.” According to the FTC, charges ranging from $9.95 to $24.95 per month started showing up on people’s phone bills — to the tune of more than $70 million. The FTC says the defendants told phone companies and third party billing aggregators that consumers had OKed the charges by filling out forms online.
The complaint alleges that the defendants billed consumers for services they didn’t authorize — an unfair practice under the FTC Act — and deceptively represented that people were obligated to pay. A note for pleadings watchers: According to the complaint, money from the operation was transferred to a purported non-profit, Bibliologic, Ltd., controlled by Mr. Sann. The FTC has named Bibliologic as a relief defendant and has asked the court to order Bibliologic to disgorge the money.
If you have telecom clients or are watching what’s going on in the billing field, this is a case you'll want to follow.