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FTC Alleges T-Mobile Charged Customers Millions In Bogus Charges

The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint on Tuesday, alleging that wireless provider T-Mobile made hundreds of millions of dollars on bogus charges against its customers.

Essentially, the FTC claims that T-Mobile knew that its customers never ordered text message subscriptions for things like "flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip," but it still continued to charge them $9.99 a month for the service.

In a press release the FTC writes:

"T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services offered by scammers years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent.

" 'It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent,' said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. 'The FTC's goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges.' "

What's more, the FTC alleges, T-Mobile's bills are so long — in some cases, longer than 50 pages — that it's very hard for customers to "to find and understand third-party subscription charges."

Update at 7:48 p.m. ET. Practice Ended Last Year:

In a statement, T-Mobile calls the FTC complaint "unfounded and without merit."

The statement goes on to say in part:

"In fact T-Mobile stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and launched a proactive program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want. T-Mobile is fighting harder than any of the carriers to change the way the wireless industry operates and we are disappointed that the FTC has chosen to file this action against the most pro-consumer company in the industry rather than the real bad actors."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.