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In Comments To FTC, Attorney General Bill Sorrell Supports Action On Mobile Cramming

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-3173

June 25, 2013

Attorney General Bill Sorrell, with 39 other state and territorial attorneys general, sent comments on June 24 to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about stopping mobile cramming, the placement of unauthorized third-party charges on mobile phone bills. This national problem continues to get worse.

Attorneys General continue to receive complaints from consumers about recurring monthly charges of $9.95 or higher that appear on their phone bills without their authorization. The charges are usually for goods and services that the consumers neither requested nor used. Most consumers fail to detect that they have been crammed. When they do discover the charges on their bills, typically after several months, consumers are rarely able to obtain a full refund.

“A survey conducted recently by UVM showed that 60% of third-party charges placed on mobile phone bills in Vermont lack consumer authorization,” says Sorrell. “My Office will keep at it until this fraudulent practice comes to an end, and—judging by the national support for our FTC comments—I suspect we aren’t alone there.”

The comments, submitted by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), address four areas of particular concern:

1. Unauthorized charges being placed on consumers’ bills for unwanted and unused services;
2. Inadequate disclosure of third-party charges on mobile phone bills;
3. Inadequate mechanisms for consumers to effectively block third-party charges and obtain refunds; and
4. The lack of state and federal statutory protections governing consumer disputes about fraudulent or unauthorized charges placed on mobile phone bills.

Attorneys General from the following states and territories signed onto the letter: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington and Wyoming.

Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller led the effort to get state Attorneys General to submit the FTC Comments.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.