November 21, 2013

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announces three major mobile phone carriers to block "cramming" charges from appearing on consumers' cell phone bills

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced three of the nation's largest mobile phone carriers, AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile, will stop billing problematic third-party charges following a push by her office, the Attorneys General of 44 states and the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers from mobile cramming.

Earlier this year Pennsylvania joined other states working with the Federal Trade Commission encouraging its efforts to curb cramming, the often unscrupulous business practice by which unauthorized third-party charges appear on mobile telephone bills.

"I will use every tool available to obtain recoveries large and small to help individual consumers in their daily lives. Protecting Pennsylvania's citizens from scams and fraud is a duty I take seriously, and as a priority." said Attorney General Kane.  

The cell phone carriers have committed to stop charging their customers for "premium text messages," known as "PSMS." Attorney General Kane noted that PSMS accounts for a majority of third party charges on cell phone bills and for many of the cramming complaints received by states.  

Cramming charges usually range from a few cents to $24.95 per month and appear on consumers' cell phone bills for goods and services that the consumers neither requested nor used. The mystery charges might appear as long-distance charges or billing for web hosting, and often go undetected for several billing cycles. 
Attorney General Kane urged all mobile phone consumers to routinely review the charges that appear on their monthly bills to make sure they are legitimate.

Consumers with questions or concerns about cramming, suspicious mailings or offers, or phone calls can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection online or by calling 1-800-441-2555.