FCC expected to fine Sprint $105 million for overcharging customers (Just like AT&T)

The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly on the verge of fining Sprint $105 million for cramming charges that brought complaints from tens of thousands of customers.

The $105 million fine would match one levied on AT&T, which was accused of the same illegal practice. The US government has also sued T-Mobile over cramming charges.

The FCC has not confirmed the action against Sprint, but it was reported Monday in the National Journal and yesterday in The Wall Street Journal. “According to the enforcement action, which hasn’t been finalized, Sprint billed customers for third-party services it knew they hadn’t asked for and didn’t want,” National Journal wrote.

“According to [an unnamed FCC official], the FCC’s probe focused on a three-month window from August to October 2013, during which they said Sprint received almost 35,000 complaints from consumers about the unwanted charges,” The Wall Street Journal wrote. “The FCC alleges Sprint’s actions were a willful violation, and proposes the company forfeit $105 million to resolve the investigation.”

The reports did not say how much of the $105 million would be returned to customers. In the case of AT&T, $80 million was set aside for customer refunds to be distributed by the Federal Trade Commission. Carriers largely halted cramming charges a year ago, but the FCC and FTC are still investigating how the carriers overcharged customers before that.

UPDATE: The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) sued Sprint over the alleged cramming charges today.

“We strongly disagree with (CFPB’s) characterization of our business practices… Sprint took considerable steps to protect wireless customers from unauthorized third-party billing,” said a Sprint statement, according to CNBC. “It appears the CFPB has decided to use this issue as the test case on whether it has legal authority to assert jurisdiction over wireless carriers.”


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