SEATTLE—Attorney General Bob Ferguson with 39 other state and territorial attorneys general and consumer advocates, 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.
Attorneys general continue to receive complaints from consumers about charges, usually around $9.95, that appear on their phone bills without their authorization and are automatically renewed each month. The charges are usually for goods and services that the consumers neither requested nor used. Often consumers fail to detect that they have been crammed. When they do discover the charges on their bills, sometimes after several months, consumers are rarely able to obtain a full refund.
“Consumers are fed up with unauthorized charges on their cell phone bills,” Ferguson said. “We are committed to protecting consumers and ending this practice of cramming.”
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.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Contacts: Alison Dempsey-Hall, Dep. Communications Director, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, (206) 641-1335