Today we’re announcing settlements with Sprint and Verizon, who illegally billed consumers over a hundred million dollars in unauthorized third-party charges. If approved, these settlements will return $120 million directly to affected consumers.
Sprint’s and Verizon’s customers became victims by clicking on ads for “free” digital content such as ring tones or daily horoscopes, and were then charged without their consent. Many people did not know that third parties could add charges to their wireless bills. The illegal billing often continued undetected for months.
Sprint’s and Verizon’s billing systems invited illegal third-party charges and the companies did little or nothing to root them out. Sprint and Verizon also failed to properly track and respond to consumer complaints about these charges, while collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue by serving as payment processors for these third-party companies. Sprint and Verizon received a 30-40 percent cut of every third-party charge.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act, we can hold companies, including payment processors and lenders, accountable when they engage in unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices.