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Could your mobile carrier be hiding third-party charges on your phone bill that you never authorized? The FTC has alleged that T-Mobile has done just that.

The agency says that T-Mobile charged consumers not only for regular phone services, but also for third party content – including monthly subscriptions for ringtones, wallpaper, horoscope texts, flirting tips, and celebrity gossip – that consumers neither knew about nor agreed to.   

According to the FTC, here’s how it happened: On the first page of the bill, T-Mobile deceptively lumped third-party charges under a general line item that also included charges for their services like texting. The obscure breakouts of each charge were on the pages toward the end of the bill.  

More surprising? The company continued to charge consumers, pocketing up to 40 percent of those third-party charges, even after some consumers caught on, complaints piled up, and industry auditors put T-Mobile on notice that the charges were unauthorized. 

Here’s how to reduce the chances of paying charges crammed onto your bill without your knowledge or permission:

  • Read your mobile phone bill each month – line by line, and page by page. Don’t ignore the billing statement you get in the mail or through an automated online payment system. You should know your baseline monthly bill. Taking time to read every page of your statements can help you detect potentially fraudulent charges, keep surprise charges to a minimum, and save you money.
  • Consider a block on third-party charges. Many phone carriers already offer third-party blocking service for free. You just have to ask.
  • Ask your mobile phone carrier for its policy on refunds for fraudulent charges. Some carriers have a 60-day period for refund requests, and many have a policy of partial refunds for fraudulent charges you detect – no matter how long the cramming charges have occurred.
  • If you have a prepaid phone plan, check that you’re not losing pre-paid minutes to pay for unauthorized third-party charges. Stay on top of how many calling minutes you have, and make sure that minutes don’t go missing due to deductions unrelated to your regular phone calls. Check your accounts online or call the number your carrier gives you for account access.

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of cramming, contact your phone carrier first about the charges, then file a complaint with the FTC.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


This is full of great content that most don't know about it is wonderful that your able to let us in on the newest information. thanks for all you do to help so many

Um, cell phone companies have been billing text services this way since at least 2003 when I started working for AT&T. People often subscribe to text services without even realizing it. Back in the day, a lot of these texting services were shady and sort of tricked people into subscribing, then those of us that worked in Customer Service had to deal with the backlash. This is not even close to new. I think you all are about a decade late on this.

Thank you for bringing this to light. My mother is 81 and she checks everything. She was being charged $2.50 for 411 calls.She obviously was not making those calls(she didn't even know what 411 was). How does this happen? We need to analyze everything!

I've once had a call from a random phone number and when I answered it was 411. When I got my monthly statement I noticed that I had a charge for calling 411 which I never done

My bill is $39.99 monthly but there is a charge for taxes and fees. What are fees???

I have been having major problems with my bill with t mobile for three years the customer service is terrible and the bill is never correct and they add extra charges and change your plan with oout you knowing charhing for phones not in use taxing when there is not even a phone number too I advise you check into T-Mobile even more I have been complaining for the past 3 years and get nothing they do not know how to add or subtract they gave me a 10.00 credit and add it instead of subtract they are terrible please look into company a lot more and read customers compaints to them listen to the recordings on the phone and get this accomplished cause I am getting no where

Jersey1270- I feel your pain. I have been with T-Mobile since 2000. They used to have wonderful customer service. In the past 18 months I have been on the phone with them about my coverage and billing EVERY SINGLE MONTH! I finally wrote a letter requesting early termination of my contract so I can switch to another carrier. Can't wait, they granted it and I will be switching to ATT next week!

so is there a class action and do we get refunded?

i got tracfone prepay are there anyway they can deduct minutes from my account without me using the phone

This happened with me when I had T Mobile's contract plan. I just use their flex plan now.

I know thy do this!

Has anyone ever checked into AT&T for the same thing? I have a home phone and internet through them and I swear they're doing the same thing to my home phone bill! I'm getting charged three different times for 911 and a bunch of other charges too that I don't even understand what they're for! I get the unlimited local and long distance calls, suppose to be one set price, yet every month my bill is a different amount. I mean there were times it would be a $10 difference from one month to the next! Now it just keeps getting higher and now they're raising my internet bill too! At first it was suppose to be only $14.95 per month for the first year and then go to it's reg. price of $24.95 per month after that, which it did for a year and now they're raising it again!! Now they have me paying $36.00 per month and said that the $24.95 was a special price for the second year! They NEVER said anything about that when I signed up or at anytime during the first two years! Here is a copy of what all they charge me for on my home phone bill. Please tell me if the charges at the bottom make sense to you! . . . . . . . . . . Monthly Service - Jun 16 thru Jul 15
Combined Communications Svcs 39.00
byAT&T Michigan
Call PlanUnlimited
Caller Identification
Calling NameDisplay
ThreeWay Calling
Automatic Callback
Call Forwarding
Selective Call Screening
Speed Calling
CallWaiting ID
Unlmtd NWClg Plus 1
byAT&T LongDistance
FederalAccess Charge 5.39
Total Monthly Service 44.39
Surcharges andOther Fees
9-1-1 Emergency System
Billing for more than one city/counties .24
Emergency 9-1-1OperationalAssessment
Billing for more than one city/counties 1.24
Michigan State E911 .19
FederalUniversal Service Fee 1.72
MI StateAccess Fund .19
Carrier Cost Recovery Fee (LongDist) 1.99
Total Surcharges andOther Fees 5.57
State at 6% 2.89
Total Plans and Services 52.85. . . . . . . . I don't know call me crazy, but I just don't get how it can be so different every month and how they can keep raising the price of my internet without any notice and then try to tell me that's what it was suppose to be all along! Any suggestion?

Everyone's phone has the capability to make "emergency" phone calls. Isn't that 911? 911 is a free service. I think your getting it. I also noticed the caller ID, which you have twice. Wait, I just toggled back and I see it more; Caller Identification, Calling Name Display, & Call Waiting ID. To me they are all the same. Then what is this: Billing for more than one city/counties .24 and this, Billing for more than one city/counties 1.24? Why would you get charged for city/counties? Isn't that part of the mobile service, to make a phone call or text? And what the hell is this: Carrier Cost Recovery Fee (LongDist) 1.99? Y are you paying for the carrier's recovery? Total Surcharges and Other Fees 5.57???????????????

The FTC announced a settlement with AT&T regarding "crammed" charges on mobile phone bills in October 2014. You can apply for a refund at

Was a T-Mobile consumers over a year ago, Had them for over 6 years when I lived in Kansas. Now I live in Washington.

This is a non-issue. I've credited customers who didn't even know they had it on the bill. For eleven years they have been crediting customers back, and in some cases further back than 60 days. This is not "hidden" either, because the way bills are printed there are only a few pages worth and very easy to read. You're showing a bill that is a reprint or lengthy due to the customer requesting detailed billing. But these charges coming up right before Sprint makes its offer for T-Mobile? Yeah, something's fishy, but it's with the FTC.

Correct-non issue. I read my bills and if I saw those charges I would call and get an explanation and a credit. I got the block early on. FTC should not go after T-Mobile. They need to go after the people that advertise FREE RING TONES, etc. Consumers order them up and aren't able to see the fine print, I know I tried on a couple of the commercials and they are small print and fly by so fast who can read it. I call BS on FTC

I purchased Apps through the Play Store on my credit card. AT&T charged me $85.00. I disputed. They credited my account ~ It's not the principle!! I switched.

TMobile well well known for hitting the poor with nothing short of threats, and usuary. They also bill bogus charges. Usually to poor people who do not have the money to hire legal counsel. They could not provide me with service, but demanded I pay the early termination fees.
they are nothing short of being Pirates.

They did the same thing to me....their coverage in AZ is terrible. After I complained to the FCC, they called and waived the early termination fee.

For the past 21 months I have been lied to and ripped off by T-Mobile. Every month was an issue and I'd go around and around with them regarding bogus charges. The Bill break down was a joke. I mean what are "non-communication" fees? Now they're doing away with long bills. They say That's not what we want. That we just want the bottom line. I'm sure that's what they want so we won't complain. That'll work. Right...

I believe cox does this too!

This is ridiculous

I have so many questions about this. shocking. Where can I read more? What is cramming? What is third party charges. and I can request that third party charges be blocked? and why would T-Mobile permit them appearing on my bill?

Cramming happens when a company adds a charge to your phone bill for a service you didn’t order or use. The article Mystery Phone Charges provides more information. You can also check out the blog How to Beat a Mobile Cramming Scam.

I use to work for a 3rd party vendor that supplied customer service for T-Mobile. We got alot of complaints about T-Mobiles people telling customers that a credit would be applied and never being applied and no system notes mentioning it. If you get a rep that has a id # like 1-#### that is a outside rep. and often can't find any info of what a actual T-Mobile employee might have told a customer b/c it is not there. But we also had alot of issue of the subscription service being ordered by the kids on the plans with out parents knowing about it. Then they call and ask about the 10.00 a month charge for this or that. Check what your kids are doing on top of what the phone company is. The adds for these subscription services are deceptive and can actually cost you 10.00 a day instead of a month. You do need to read every line of the bill and read every part for every number on the account. And yes there are times that a actual mistake is made by the computer. But more than likely in some cases it is someone on the account adding some of those extra charges.

You don't have to live like this.

I'm on Ting and I pay about $30 a month. My aunt is on RepublicWireless and she pays about $25 a month. S

I switched from T-Mobile to Republic Wireless. I'm paying $12 per month and completely satisfied. You might not be, depending on your use and service.


This is such a non-issue and I can't believe the FTC is singling out T-Mobile in a lawsuit. What about Verizon, Sprint and AT&T because I've seen that exact type of charge for years on customers' bills. It isn't illegal put there by the carrier. People can subscribe without even realizing it because the text alert people are shady and no one reads fine print.

One day I was taking an online quiz just for fun and at the end it said to get my results I needed to put in my mobile number and they would text it to me. I read the fine print and it plainly said that by giving my number I would be subscribing to their daily text alerts for $9.99 per month. Hell no I didn't give my number but people are stupid and do it all the time.

Also people can get subscribed when someone types in what they think is a fake number, not wanting to give their real number. There should be a mandatory opt-in where a text is sent to the customer's phone asking them to reply YES to opt-in otherwise they won't be subscribed.

If you want to go after someone, go after the companies that are creating these stupid, deceptive daily text services that no one really wants. It's not the carrier's fault that they are being told to charge a customer on their bill for something that was subscribed to. Regulate the cause of the problem and don't shoot the messenger. I wouldn't blame the carriers if they stopped allowing bill to account for any service other than theirs completely. What a headache! I hope T-Mobile wins.

Been with Verizon for 2 years and my monthly bill has the same amount every month. They offer very good service.

ihave had Verizon a long time and they do the same thing with text msg.this is not new

It's all about being Upfront ...
With Me
It's a Need for clear and concise Comprehension to the plan -
And an itinerary of expected dues and date changes

I paid so many bills in my 2 months

I'm one of the affected customers of tmobile.....shortly after I added a 3rd line to my account I started to notice a t/p charge on this new line....I asked my gfs little brother if he downloaded any apps or in app purchases and he denied....I called tmobile and asked them about this charge...and they told me they couldn't see it on their I told them I would take a screenshot and email it to them....then they told me I couldn't do that...then I told her that I would give her permission to go onto my mytmobile page to see herself and she refused....then she told me not to worry about it.....this was around the time the galaxy s4 came out....I kept seeing the charge every month and would call in but they acted like I was crazy.....after reading about this on the 1st of july I was furious and tried to view my bills only to see that tmobile cleverly changed their websites and the way to view your bills...I was furious and called tmobile only to be told by Tony s I'd number 1049579 that those acquisitions were bogus and was EXTREMELY RUDE...then they told me if I couldn't show physical proof that I wouldn't be refunded...then they turned around and told me they don't keep phone bills longer than a how coincidental how everything is no longer available.....I cannot wait until they get to the bottom of this and I am even willing to testify in federal court under oath

I continue to be astonished with the behaviors of those individuals who manipulate innocent citizens... AS WELL AS AN ENTIRE NATION... for their own personal deceptive and sinful gain! It is disheartening to know that certain individuals (or groups) would use their GOD given skills for such cruel and malicious use! I pray that they are forgiven for creating an environment filled with distress and distrust. If they put forth just as much effort towards cultivating a spirit of honesty, hard work and positive morals and ethics, the world would be a better place, thus decreasing the senseless wasted time and opportunities of good hard working American Citizens.

I have been with t- mobile since.they were voicestream that was about 15 or so years ago, i like them, but its.true my bill is.differet every month. I have.had many charges onmy bill. I say that their. Costomer reps. Are about the worst anywhere. I have.been told to.hold on and they never come back. Ive asked for.a.supervisor because i.was.getting nowhere with the.rep. she.was an idiot, andthen told by her that there were no.supervisors there. She was scared. That was only one time. I have.had many many calls with.them.that.i have gotten off.the phone after an hour and hadmy blood pressure so.high it was rediculus. Then i will get the most wonderful person from the US that is.just as helpful as can be. So ichoose to.stick.with them even though i have i wanted to tell them whereto , go. But all in all i like tmobile. So.yes.what is.being said.might be true. But truthfully the only ime ivehad charges that i didnt do was from a third party . So to be fair i.dont think it is.Tmobile's fault when it is.a third party that is.causing the.charges on my bill. So even.after all these years i will stick with them. Oh and they have always given me a refund. And.they told me i could put a.block on any $9.99 monthly charges from.being bill for ever of.charge. now i.will say thishappened bcause i had a.good cust. Rep. .

In June 2014 I became a customer of T_Mobile. I have had nothing but Major Problems with them. My bill has been over $150. for 2 phones and 1 plan. They say my other phone and plan is CONSIDERED a NO CONTRACT plan. I have been charged for what it seems like EVERY CALL I make to them..What they call this, is a $10.00 Account Change. I have had a Line suspended since July 31, 2014 for it being Stolen. Yes, I too, am being charged MONTHLY for a phone plane I am not able to use because of 1 of the phones being Stolen. I was mislead by the T-Mobile rep at the store on Stassney & 35 in Austin, Tx. to purchase the insurance on the Galaxy 5. I asked plenty of questions regarding the INSURANCE on this phone. Yes, One of the questions was, if the phone is LOST OR STOLEN, the INSURANCE WILL COVER IT minus the duductible? yes Maam. Second Question, That's all I have to pay is the $175. deductible and IWILL receive a new phone? 3rd Question: Will I still be liable for the phone if I still owe on it? YES and 3rd question ANSWER:NO! what a freaking joke this has been. After going round rould with so many T-Mobile reps on 611, I received the worst answer imagined. I am still liable for the REMAINING PAYMENT for the Galaxy 5 phone. So I asked $175. DEDUCTIBLE PLUS THE REMAINING BALANCE OF THE PHONE AT $485.00 = $660. THE FREAKING PRICE i PAID IN THE 1AST PLACE IN JUNE 2014. 611 TMobile rep states after I said to him, I will just cancel my so called JUMP contract... WE/T-MOBILE WILL DEMAND PAYMENT IN FULL FOR PHONE AND BILL which is just under $500.00

So people are mad that tmobile "hid" charges by clearly listing them on the bill? Usage means charges in addition to what your normal monthly services are. The content provider's name and the description provided by the content providers are on the bill. Sure it would be nice if the content provider had a better description of their product. People need to understand that these third party charges are charges from third parties. Tmobile WAS profiting from these 3rd party charges and the service providers who were gaining customer consent in sketchy ways (ie commercial with really tiny fine print says text 111111 for free horoscope). Tmobile didn't just make charges up out of nowhere and stick them on anyone's bill. My understanding is that it was decided that if tmobile was going to be profiting from 3rd party charges that they would be responsible for ensuring customer consent which is understandable but it is odd that the ftp didn't target the companies responsible for the services.

You commented on a blog that was written in July, 2014. There's been activity on the case since then.

For more current information, see the press release and case updates that announced a $90 million proposed settlement under which T-Mobile would refund customers who were unfairly billed third-party charges by the company.

Cell phone, virgin mobile. I pay 35.00 every month for services. Always getting calling cards, just now noticed they charge a fee of 51. Cents every time. Why??? Thank you

I've had some real bad experiences with Tmobile, and didn't get anywhere for 2 years. None of the managers at 2 of the corporate stores acknowledge my complaints. The customer service people were less than helpful and did not acknowledge anything I disputed. Only through actual threats did they pay my the transfer fee from Verizon.That they advertised. Now I have new problems with my phone that are intermittent, and I get different excuses from different tech support people. On YouTube I've been putting excessive comments on there and get very few responces.I have even been down right racial or anti-police on channels that are racially based or police based and get NOTHING.
They got taken to court because they didn't agree with a text marketing's business with weedmaps and BLOCKED the service. So I feel they are blocking me because of my email address and my comments on YouTube about the poor and unprofessional service.
Now my first Amendment rights are being blocked buy them on a public forum

I was charged 2.75 for 1 411 call that I did not make. They refused to change it. I no loner want or need 411 on my landline. I have a computer, a tablet and a smart phone, so why in the hell do I need 411. I am so angry.

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