You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

AT&T ordered to pay $7.75 million for bogus directory assistance tools

Engadget logo Engadget 8/08/2016 Nathan Ingraham
© Provided by Engadget

US wireless carriers are often the absolute worst, and today we're finding out yet another way that AT&T attempted to screw over its loyal customers. The FCC just released a statement noting that it reached a settlement with AT&T in which the carrier will pay $7.75 million after allowing scammers to charge $9 a month to unsuspecting customers for a "sham" directory assistance service. Adding insult to injury, it seems this service was set up as a tool to help launder money; the scam was originally uncovered by the DEA.

According to the FCC, AT&T received a fee each time this fraudulent service appeared on a customer's bill, but the so-called service provider never actually provided anything to these customers, most of which were small businesses.

Out of the $7.75 million AT&T is paying up, $6.8 million will go towards refunds and a paltry $950,000 will go to the US treasury as a fine. Given that AT&T pulled in $40.5 billion in revenue in its most recent quarter, it's a stretch to call that fine even a slap on the wrist.

This is hardly the first time US wireless carriers have gotten in trouble for such shady practices -- in 2014, AT&T itself paid a much larger $105 million settlement for cramming false charges onto its customers' bills. T-Mobile also paid $90 million in a 2014 settlement, while Verizon and Sprint paid $90 million and $68 million, respectively, last winter. Good news consumers: all four of the country's biggest carriers have been caught ripping off their customers. We're just hoping the FCC continues to pay close attention to these shady practices.


More from Engadget

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon