Bill cram woes piling up for Sprint: Campaigners lob in a sueball

CFPB seeking to get payback for fraudulent charges

Yet another group has filed suit against Sprint, alleging the US telco unfairly profited from phone bill cramming.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said it wants to extract a pound of flesh from the carrier for allowing murky traders to sneak extra charges onto customers' bills, a portion of which was paid to Sprint. The bureau says it has filed court papers [PDF] claiming Sprint violated the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

According to the group, dodgy firms have been able to sign up punters to hidden $9.99 monthly subscriptions or one-off fees for less than $5, with Sprint taking a 30 to 40 per cent cut.

"Sprint’s flawed billing system allowed unscrupulous merchants to add unauthorized charges to wireless bills, and consumers ended up paying tens of millions of dollars in such charges," claimed CFPB director Richard Cordray.

"Many of these consumers had no idea that third parties could even place charges on their bills."

Word of the suit, filed in the southern district of New York, comes on the heels of talk that the FCC is hoping to sue Sprint over the same matter. The commission is reportedly seeking to collect upwards of $100m. The CFPB said it was working with the FCC on its own suit.

Sprint, meanwhile said in a statement to The Register that it "strongly disagrees" with the characterization.

"Sprint took considerable steps to protect wireless customers from unauthorized third-party billing and is an industry leader in proactively preventing unauthorized charges," the company said.

"We recognize this is an important issue for our customers, and we consistently have encouraged any customers who think they may have incurred an unauthorized third-party charge on their phone bill to contact Sprint to resolve the issue."

Sprint is not the only US carrier to face accusations of profiting from cramming. T-Mobile US had to pay out $43m in refunds, while AT&T was fined $105m by the FTC. ®

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