FTC Accuses T-Mobile of Knowingly Charging Customers for Fraudulent Services

The United States Federal Trade Commission today filed a complaint against T-Mobile, accusing the carrier of charging customers for unauthorized SMS subscriptions that delivered information like horoscopes and celebrity gossip at prices up to $9.99 per month.

T-Mobile reportedly collected 35 to 40 percent of the amount charged to consumers, at times continuing to bill customers even after it was clear the charges were fraudulent. According to the FTC, T-Mobile made "hundreds of millions of dollars" using these tactics.

t-mobile_usa_logo
The FTC suggests that the charges were unauthorized because of the high volume of T-Mobile customers seeking refunds. The company has allegedly received a high number of consumer complaints since 2012. T-Mobile is also said to have made it difficult to detect the charges, as a summary bill did not show a third-party charge or a recurring subscription. T-Mobile bills also made it "nearly impossible for consumers to find and understand third-party subscription charges."

After looking past a "Summary" section as well as an "Account Service Detail" section, both of which described "Usage Charges" but did not itemize those charges, a consumer might then reach the section labeled "Premium Services," where the crammed items would be listed.

According to the complaint, the information would be listed there in an abbreviated form, such as "8888906150BrnStorm23918," that did not explain that the charge was for a recurring third-party subscription supposedly authorized by the consumer.

T-Mobile also failed to provide full refunds to customers after the charges were discovered. The FTC is asking for a court order to prevent T-Mobile from continuing to charge customers for fraudulent services and to provide full refunds for its "ill-gotten gains."

T-Mobile has not yet commented on the FTC's complaint, but the company's outspoken CEO, John Legere, will undoubtedly have a response.

In recent months, T-Mobile has worked hard to distinguish itself from other mobile phone carriers with its "UnCarrier" initiatives designed to disrupt traditional mobile service. The company has uncoupled device costs from service costs, introduced a Jump upgrade plan, provided unlimited texting and 2G data in 100 countries, offered customers up to $350 to switch carriers, and announced plans to allow customers to "test drive" the service.

Update 1:30 PM PT: T-Mobile has released a statement calling the FTC's complaint "unfounded and without merit." T-Mobile goes on to state that it stopped billing for Premium SMS services last year and has launched a "proactive program" to provide full refunds for customers.

Top Rated Comments

chrisbru Avatar
112 months ago
T-Mobile is still a douchebag carrier.

T-Mobile doesn't make it easy when switching from pre-paid to post-paid. They treat you like a new customer (as though switching from a different carrier) and make you purchase new SIM cards at $10 a pop. WTF?

This seems like a silly complain compared to what its like at VZW and ATT
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Parasprite Avatar
112 months ago
That's it. I'm switching from T-mobile to AT&T

You're missing the sarcasm tag.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
godrifle Avatar
112 months ago
I switched from AT&T to T-mobile, for among other things, AT&T charging me for these kinds of purchases. Since moving to T-Mobile, i've not experienced anything other than a *substantially* lower bill. Hopefully they're looking at other carriers as well.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gretafour Avatar
112 months ago
Sprint used this very "tactic" on me when I still had them. T-Mobile is at least shaking up the market, but let us not forget they are still a faceless corporation of a person who cannot go to jail.

Glad to see the regulators doing their job.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
donnaw Avatar
112 months ago
ATT did the same to me on my landline. It was supposed to be for 'tech services'. I had to call 3 months in a row and argue each month. "Are you sure you or someone else in your household didn't authorize this? ". BS. I've been in IT for 30 years. My son is a network expert and my husband is an engineer. I've been building computers for right at 30 years, developed software...between us we undoubtedly know more about computer hardware, software and networking than any 'tech service'.

I finally had to threaten to take my landline and mobile accounts elsewhere and threaten legal means to get the charges off. I then had to argue to get a block put on my numbers so it wouldn't happen again. "Well, if we do this you'll never be able to charge anything like this to your phone number again,". I've never charged a service to my phone number (or anything else for that matter) That's what my credit cards are for!! Like pulling teeth.

Watch your bills. They all do this because they get a cut of the pie.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
emvath Avatar
112 months ago
I've had T-mobile for my personal line for years now and have never experienced anything like this. That being said, if it is true....T-mobile would STILL be better than any other option in the US to me.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
dewey airtag

Report Highlights Danger of Using AirTags for Tracking Dogs

Monday January 30, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
AirTags may be a convenient way for tracking dogs that might get off leash or otherwise lost, but there are dangers associated with the practice, as outlined by a report from The Wall Street Journal. At 1.26 inches in diameter, AirTags are able to fit easily on a dog's collar, but that size also makes the tracking devices small enough to swallow, at least for a medium to large-sized dog, and ...
maxresdefault

Kuo: Apple to Release Foldable iPad With Carbon Fiber Kickstand in 2024

Monday January 30, 2023 12:55 am PST by
Apple will launch a foldable iPad with a carbon fiber kickstand sometime next year, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In a series of tweets, Kuo said he expects an "all-new design foldable iPad" to be the next big product launch in the iPad lineup, with no other major iPad releases in the next nine to 12 months. The analyst said he...
tim cook data privacy day

Apple Violated U.S. Labor Laws With Anti-Leak Email

Monday January 30, 2023 3:43 pm PST by
Apple violated United States labor laws when it sent out an email warning employees about leaking confidential information about the company, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said today in a ruling shared by Bloomberg. Rules that Apple has established around leaks "tend to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees" from the exercise of their rights under the National Labor...
top stories 28jan2023

Top Stories: iOS 16.3 Released, iPhone 15 Pro Rumors, macOS Tips and Tricks, and More

Saturday January 28, 2023 6:00 am PST by
Following last week's hardware announcements, this week saw the actual release of several of the new products as well as operating system updates bringing new features and bug fixes across Apple's platforms. This week also saw some fresh rumors about the iPhone 15 lineup and Apple's upcoming AR/VR headset, while we shared some tips to help you get the most of your macOS experience, so read...
iphone 15 pro wifi 6e

Internal Apple Document From Leaker 'Unknownz21' Confirms Wi-Fi 6E Will Be Limited to iPhone 15 Pro Models

Friday January 27, 2023 10:01 am PST by
Multiple rumors have suggested that the next-generation iPhone 15 models will adopt the Wi-Fi 6E standard that Apple has already introduced in the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, and now a leaked document appears to confirm Apple's plans. Sourced from researcher and Apple leaker Unknownz21 (@URedditor), the document features diagrams of the iPhone 15's antenna architecture. D8x refers to the...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Rumored to Have These 8 Features

Friday January 27, 2023 2:11 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least eight exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the eight features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...