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AT&T agrees to pay $7.75 million to settle fraudulent directory assistance charges

By Shawn Knight
Aug 8, 2016
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  1. AT&T has agreed to pay a fine of $7.75 million to settle a dispute with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to resolve yet another “cramming” allegation.

    According to the FCC, AT&T allowed scammers to charge some customers (mostly small businesses) roughly $9 per month via monthly phone bill for a sham directory assistance service.

    The cramming scam, run by Cleveland-area companies Discount Directory, Inc. and Enhanced Telecommunications Services, was uncovered during an investigation by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on drug-related crimes and money laundering.

    Specifically, the DEA found documents related to a scheme to defraud telephone customers. When questioned, the suspects revealed that they had set up the companies to bill thousands of consumers for a fraudulent directory assistance service.

    The FCC notes that AT&T received a fee from the companies for each charge placed on its customers’ bills. Neither the companies involved nor AT&T could prove that customers agreed to be billed for the sham service.

    Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said a phone bill should not be a tool for drug traffickers, money launderers and other unscrupulous third parties to fleece American consumers. The settlement, he added, will ensure that AT&T customers who were charged for the phony service will get their money back and that all AT&T consumers will enjoy greater protections against unauthorized charges on their phone bills in the future.

    As per the settlement, AT&T will issue full refunds to all current and former customers that were charged for the bogus service since January 2012. The refunds are expected to total $6.8 million; the remaining $950,000 will be assessed as a fine paid to the US Treasury.

    Image courtesy Jonathan Weiss, Shutterstock

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  2. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,319   +709

    When is the government going to demand that AT&T, Verizon and the rest of the wireless crooks give back all the taxpayer money they've stolen? Nearly a hundred million for "rural broadband" and every single dime went towards more urban infrastructure or into top exec's pockets. There are also the tens of million they score every single month from the phony taxes on our bills - with the feds getting their cut, of course. Meanwhile the rest of the developed world enjoys faster and more reliable wireless at a much lower cost and, in most areas, with better overall coverage.
     
    Uncle Al, yRaz and cliffordcooley like this.
  3. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,309   +56

    For free directory assistance call 800-free-411. I once worked as a directory assistance operator for a very short time for pacific bell, now att.
     
    Hexic likes this.
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,549   +2,894

    The haven't resolved anything. The have however spread the wealth. Pretty much the same as bribing them to look the other way.
     
    gingerbill likes this.
  5. petert

    petert TS Enthusiast Posts: 90   +26

    Pocket money! Literally pocket money for them. A normal investigation would have lead to prison time at least for several of AT&T staff involved.
     
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,660   +767

    What?????? the phone company took advantage of us???? shock, dismay, business as usual ......
     

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