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The federal government is continuing its crackdown against the so-called "cramming" of unauthorized charges on consumers' cellphone bills with a lawsuit against wireless carrier Sprint.
The lawsuit was filed Friday by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, reports CNET. In the complaint, the Bureau alleges that Sprint allowed third parties to make unauthorized charges on Sprint customers' cellphone bills then failed to properly respond to customer disputes or warnings about the practice from consumer groups and government agencies.
The lawsuit marks the third action by a government agency against a wireless carrier for wireless cramming so far this year.
The lawsuit against Sprint follows a similar lawsuit filed against wireless carrier T-Mobile earlier this year. In that lawsuit, the Federal Trade Commission alleged that T-Mobile had crammed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of unauthorized third-party charges on customers' bills, including subscription services for horoscopes, dating tips, ringtones, and other services that consumers often failed to notice were included on their monthly bills.
In October, it was announced that AT&T had agreed to a $105 million settlement with the FTC over allegations that the company also crammed unauthorized charges onto customers' wireless bills. In addition to the lawsuit filed this week against Sprint by the CFPB, the FCC is also reportedly planning to levy a $105 million fine against the company.
Cramming is the name given to unauthorized charges placed on landline telephone or cellphone bills, typically for services provided by third party companies. Consumers are often unaware that they are being charged a monthly fee for these services as the charges frequently go unnoticed on monthly bills. The government claims that this is often the result of deceptive billing practices on the part of wireless carriers.
In the lawsuit against Sprint, the CFPB is asking for civil damages and penalties against the company as well as restitution for Sprint customers who paid the unauthorized charges.
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