DENVER—Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman announced today a $158 million settlement with Verizon and Sprint regarding wireless cramming charges. This agreement resolves allegations that Verizon and Sprint charged wireless customers for unauthorized third-party services. Of the $158 million, approximately $120 million will go directly to consumers who were victims.
“Wireless companies that do business in Colorado must respect our laws and our states’ consumers. Cramming has cost Coloradans millions of dollars in unauthorized charges.” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. “The settlement with Verizon and Sprint will return money to those who have been harmed and put wireless providers on notice that this office will vigorously defend the rights of Colorado consumers.”
Consumers who were crammed complained about recurring monthly charges for premium text message subscription services like horoscopes, trivia, and sports scores that they never requested.
The settlement also requires that Verizon and Sprint:
- stay out of the commercial premium text messaging business;
- obtain consumers’ express consent before billing them for third-party charges;
- provide an opportunity for a full refund or credit to consumers who are billed for unauthorized third-party charges;
- provide information to consumers about blocking third-party charges, and
- display third-party charges in a dedicated section of consumers’ wireless bills.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Attorneys General of the other 49 states and the District of Columbia also announced settlements with Verizon and Sprint today. Verizon also agreed to pay $16 million to the Attorneys General and $4 million to the Federal Communications Commission. Sprint agreed to pay $12 million to the Attorneys General and $6 million to the Federal Communications Commission.
Consumers who believe they have been charged improperly may get additional information and submit refund claims by visiting www.SprintRefundPSMS.com or www.CFPBSettlementVerizon.com. Consumers who have questions should call the refund program administrator at (877) 389-8787 (Sprint), or (888) 726-7063 (Verizon).