Oops. Sprint has been busted for charging tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party messaging charges to customer bills.
Moreover, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is about to issue a fine in the amount of $105 million for the carrier's dubious charges, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Interestingly, the amount of the fine is the same as the one AT&T paid to the FCC earlier this year in a case that is similar.
The fine is not official yet -- the FCC is still waiting for the commissioner to approve it. However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is not wasting any moment -- on behalf of the carrier's disgruntled subscribers, the CFPB is filing a lawsuit against Sprint.
According to the CFPB, Sprint should have made it a priority to protect its subscribers from third-party billing scams. But unfortunately for its customers, the carrier had let suspicious fees for unauthorized premium text messages show up on the customers' billing statements.
The CFPB further alleges that Sprint is choosing to ignore the tens of thousands of complaints and refund requests from disgusted subscribers due to the incorrect billing. The bureau also believes that with the carrier keeping about 40 percent of all the revenue generated from bills crammed with third-party fees, it is a lot easier for Sprint to turn a blind eye.
Even though the major wireless carriers in the United States have agreed to cease billing their subscribers for premium third-party services, the practice of cramming customer bills has always been frequently done by service providers for years. By doing so, they can generate some extra income out of unsuspecting wireless subscribers.
Last October this year, AT&T agreed to settle with the FCC over cramming complaints from its subscribers. Even T-Mobile had to deal with its own cramming lawsuit back in July of this year. Out of the $105 million fine paid by AT&T, the FCC took $80 million to be refunded to subscribers who were affected. For sure, the FCC will work to achieve the same result with its lawsuit against Sprint.
For its part, Sprint is denying the allegations. The carrier claims that it took certain steps to protect its subscribers from unauthorized third-party billing practices.
If the $105 million fine does go through, it will mark the first time that the FCC and the CFPB have joined forces together in taking action against a major wireless provider.
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