December 17, 2014 / 9:14 PM / 4 years ago

FCC eyes $105 million fine for Sprint over phone bill 'cramming'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - (This version of the Dec. 16 story corrects the third paragraph from the bottom to say that the phone companies agreed in November 2013, not November this year, to stop billing for third-party services.)

People talk on their cell phones as passers-by walk past a Sprint store in New York, October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp (S.N) is expected to face a $105 million fine from the Federal Communications Commission in coming weeks over unauthorized charges on customers’ cellphone bills, a practice known as cramming, according to FCC officials.

FCC commissioners are reviewing and will soon vote on the proposed fine over charges Sprint’s consumers faced for services they never requested, FCC sources said.

A $105 million fine would tie as the agency’s largest. In October, AT&T Inc (T.N) agreed to pay $105 million to settle similar cramming allegations in a case negotiated by the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission.

FCC officials spoke on a condition of anonymity because the proposed fine has not been made public.

FCC spokesman Neil Grace declined comment. Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge Walsh said the company does not comment on rumor and speculation.

The FCC has also been investigating cramming complaints against T-Mobile US Inc TMUS.N. The FTC in July filed a cramming complaint against T-Mobile in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Prodded by state attorneys general, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) agreed in November 2013 to stop billing customers for third-party services.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in announcing AT&T’s settlement in October, estimated that 20 million consumers a year are crammed.

The National Journal was first to report the news of the planned fine for Sprint.

Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by David Gregorio and Phil Berlowitz

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