A recent class action lawsuit means that many Sprint and Verizon Wireless customers will receive a refund on unauthorized services that were billed to their cell phone accounts. These charges, called “cramming,” may involve one time charges or monthly fees for subscription services. I have had these charges added to my account without my permission, and it was very annoying! These Verizon and Sprint refunds are available for a limited period of time.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a statement on Tuesday, in which it stated, “The lack of oversight by Sprint and Verizon allowed the vendors to have nearly unfettered access to consumers’ wireless accounts.”
According to the complaint, there are four areas in which Sprint and Verizon were negligent:
Allowing third parties to illegally charge consumers
I’m honestly not sure how this differs from the following complaints, but it is listed.
Automatically billing consumers for illegitimate charges without their consent
Neither Sprint nor Verizon required verification of requests for charges from outside parties. While customers could block these third-party charges, customers had to specifically request that third-party charges be blocked. Many customers were unaware that third-party billing could even happen, so they would not know to ask to have these charges blocked. Many other customers did not know that blocking third-party charges was an option.
Ignoring consumer complaints about unauthorized charges
Both companies failed to provide full and prompt cancellation and refunds to customers who noticed unauthorized charges and requested cancellation and refunds. In addition, they failed to track customer complaints about unauthorized charges.
Failure to stop using contracted services
Despite evidence and lawsuits that contracted vendors were enabling unauthorized cramming of unauthorized charges, Sprint and Verizon continued to outsource merchant oversight and billing to these vendors. Sprint and Verizon were complete aware that the companies who worked for them were compromising the security of their customer accounts, but did nothing.
Sprint has agreed to a $68 million settlement and Verizon has agreed to a $90 million settlement.
If you think that you might have been “crammed,” you can submit claims under the Sprint and Verizon cramming refund program by visiting SprintRefundPSMS.com or CFPBSettlementVerizon.com. Once you file a claim, your cell phone company will let you know if you’re eligible for a refund. You can also reach the Verizon settlement administrator at 888-726-7063 and the Sprint settlement administrator at 877-389-8787.
image by: Jeramey Jannene