The Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday that phone and internet provider CenturyLink will pay $550,000 to settle an investigation into a practice known as “cramming”: when phone companies add unauthorized third-party charges to customer bills. CenturyLink will also stop billing for most third parties, start refunding affected customer accounts and let customers block future third-party charges.
“Over the years, the FCC has done yeoman’s work in fighting cramming and getting major phone companies to stop this practice,” Rosemary Harold, chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, said in a release. “With today’s action, another major phone company will stop cramming and prevent unscrupulous third parties from adding fees to bills without prior express consent.”
CenturyLink has previously said its own internal investigation found no wrongdoing. The company has faced repeated complaints over issues related to alleged billing fraud, including an ongoing $12 billion class action lawsuit.
CenturyLink didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.