FCC wireless data charges investigation yields record settlement

The Enforcement Bureau of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reached an agreement with Verizon Wireless involving allegations that the company billed its wireless customers for unauthorized data transfers.

The agreement, reached in late October 2010, resolved complaints that Verizon Wireless inappropriately billed certain customers who did not subscribe to a data package or plan.  The billed charges included:

  • Unauthorized data transfers initiated automatically by applications (such as games) built into certain phones;
  • Accessing certain web lines that were designated as free-of-charge (e.g., the Verizon Wireless Mobile Web homepage);
  • Unsuccessful attempts to access data when there was insufficient network coverage to complete the requested data transfer;
  • Unwanted data file transfers initiated by third parties and affecting customers who had content filters installed on their phones.

The Commission’s Consent Decree with Verizon Wireless will result in a record $25 million monetary forfeiture and a refund of at least $52.8 million to approximately 15 million Verizon Wireless customers.  Verizon Wireless also agreed to implement a number of consumer protection measures to prevent future overbilling.

Read the text of the Consent Decree between the FCC and Verizon Wireless.