complaint Stories July 1, 2014

T-Mobile gets socked with an FTC complaint alleging the Uncarrier ‘Crammed Bogus Charges onto Customers’ Phone Bills’

It feels like just last month, TMobile CEO John Legere accused Verizon and AT&T of “raping” (ugh) its customers and that “the fuckers hate you”.

In a complaint filed today, the Federal Trade Commission is charging mobile phone service provider T-Mobile USA, Inc., with making hundreds of millions of dollars by placing charges on mobile phone bills for purported “premium” SMS subscriptions that, in many cases, were bogus charges that were never authorized by its customers…

The FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC’s complaint, 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.

More in the PDF

Update: T-Mobile has responded publicly to the complaint saying it is being singled out…

We have seen the complaint filed today by the FTC and find it to be unfounded and without merit.  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.

Full response here.

complaint Stories April 4, 2013

Internal DEA document complains it’s impossible to intercept iMessages

The Drug Enforcement Administration has warned in a recent internal document that iMessage’s secure end-to-end encryption is preventing law enforcement from eavesdropping on suspects in criminal investigations. CNET got its hands on the document that warned “it’s ‘impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices’—even with a court order approved by a federal judge”:

The DEA’s “Intelligence Note” says that iMessage came to the attention of the agency’s San Jose, Calif., office as agents were drafting a request for a court order to perform real-time electronic surveillance under Title III of the Federal Wiretap Act. They discovered that records of text messages already obtained from Verizon Wireless were incomplete because the target of the investigation used iMessage: “It became apparent that not all text messages were being captured.”

Christopher Soghoian, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said yesterday that “Apple’s service is not designed to be government-proof.” “It’s much much more difficult to intercept than a telephone call or a text message” that federal agents are used to, Soghoian says. “The government would need to perform an active man-in-the-middle attack… The real issue is why the phone companies in 2013 are still delivering an unencrypted audio and text service to users. It’s disgraceful.”

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