Chances are that you or someone you know will be among 2.7 million AT&T Mobility customers who will be getting a refund soon. The FTC is returning a total of $88 million to people who were billed for premium text message services they didn’t authorize.
Blog Posts Tagged with FinTech
From the perspective of consumers, the whole purpose of prepaid debit cards – their reason for living, if you will – is to give consumers immediate access to their money. Those cards are an especially important financial lifeline for people who don’t have traditional bank accounts.
In Amazon’s Appstore, many apps geared toward kids prompted them to use fictitious currency, like a “boatload of doughnuts” or a “can of stars,” as part of game play. But a federal district court recently agreed with the FTC that Amazon’s practice of charging cold, hard cash for those imaginary items and billing parents and account holders without their express informed consent violates Section 5 of the FTC Act.
The FTC keeps its finger on the pulse of markets, channeling its resources to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices involving new technologies. A few years ago, we created the Mobile Technology Unit to help bring consumer protection into the mobile era. Staffers assist the Bureau of Consumer Protection and FTC regions with law enforcement investigations and lend their expertise to the development of consumer protection policy.
Flashes at a railroad crossing. That chirp from a smoke detector. The “check engine” light on the dashboard. Those are just a few warnings that merit your attention. The FTC’s proposed settlement with T-Mobile – which imposes at least $90 million in financial remedies, including full consumer refunds – highlights another warning that businesses should heed: clear indications that consumers are getting billed without consent.
We’re not saying it’s the most important phone message since “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” But the FTC hopes a $105 million settlement with AT&T Mobility stemming from unauthorized charges on consumers’ mobile phone bills will motivate industry members to listen up.
The polar bears and penguins sold within kids’ apps offered in the Google Play Store may have been virtual, but the unauthorized charges Moms and Dads got stuck with were all too real. A proposed FTC settlement will refund at least $19 million to parents whose accounts were charged illegally, according to the complaint, and will implement enforceable changes in how Google handles in-app purchases. Of course, the order applies just to Google, but the case of
Whether by click, tap, swipe, or scan, apps now offer a variety of beneficial services that can enhance consumers’ shopping experience. These services help consumers compare prices in-store, load the latest deals, and make purchases – all from the convenience of their phone. To better understand the consumer protection implications of this ever-changing environment, FTC staff recently issued a report, What’s the Deal?
In the story of Aladdin, something as small as a lantern housed a mighty force. Aladdin got his three wishes, but he also unleashed the genie's mercurial power. Like Aladdin's lamp, mobile devices offer incalculable benefits, but certain forms of billing create the risk that consumers will get zapped with unauthorized charges.
If there’s one theme that runs through decades of FTC law, it’s that companies need consumers’ informed consent to bill their accounts. That was true in the early days of mail order. It carried through to online shopping. And it remains the law for mobile devices, including in-app purchases. The FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon alleges the company didn’t honor that elementary principle.
It was an all-too-common occurrence. People’s mobile phone bills included unexplained – and unauthorized – monthly charges. It’s called cramming and the FTC has brought a series of cases against companies that had fees for ringtones, horoscopes, “love tips,” etc., placed on cell phone bills without consumers’ consent. The crammers took a chunk of the cash, but you might be surprised to learn who the FTC says pocketed a 35-40% piece of the action. A just-filed lawsuit pulls back the curtain on
If you follow this blog, you know we try to catch readers’ eye with a turn of phrase in the title. But when one of the defendant companies is named Bullroarer – and the FTC’s complaint alleges a massive mobile cramming scam – sometimes these posts just write themselves. The settlement with Lin Miao, who ran the operation, is worth the attention of tech entrepreneurs who may not be familiar with the breadth of remedies available to protect consumers.
Cramming unauthorized charges onto phone bills violates the FTC Act, of course. But depending on the circumstances, cases like that also can result in criminal prosecution. Two brothers who bilked consumers out of millions as part of a cramming scam are now behind bars – giving a whole new meaning to the term “cell phone.” And the prosecutors who brought the case, Assistant United States Attorneys Hallie Mitchell Hoffman and Kyle F.
Update (3/27/14): Apple will notify people about how to get refunds by April 15. The settlement requires Apple to provide full refunds for in-app charges made by kids without parental permission.
Call it "cramouflage" — unauthorized (and unexplained) charges that show up on people's mobile phone bills. Regardless of whether consumers use cell phones, land lines, or two cans tied together with string, it’s illegal to bill them without their express consent. That’s always been the law. It’s the law now. And we’ll go out on a limb and predict it’ll always be the law. A settlement involving "cramouflage" charges is the FTC's latest foray against deception in the mobile marketplace.
You thought Angry Birds get peeved at those annoying green pigs? That's nothing compared to consumers’ reaction when they found unauthorized charges “crammed” onto their cell phone bills for phony virus scans that showed up when they played Angry Birds on their Android devices. To settle an FTC lawsuit, Jesta Digital LLC — you may know them as Jamster — will give refunds to a significant number of consumers, pay an additional $1.2 million, and change the way they do business.
We can’t figure out why Hollywood hasn’t returned our call, but here's a great idea for an action movie. FTC attorneys go to court to stop a company from illegally billing people for text message-based subscription services they never asked for and didn’t authorize. We even have a can’t-miss title: Crambo.
Paper, Plastic, . . . Mobile? The question isn’t about how you bag your groceries — it’s about how you pay for them. Are you going to use cold hard cash?