The Florida Attorney General’s Office has reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with a Pinellas County phone service provider accused of charging customers for unauthorized services, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Wednesday.
“This settlement will provide refunds to customers who paid for added services charged on their telephone bills that they never authorized,” Bondi said in a statement issued by her office. “My office will continue to hold companies accountable for billing practices to ensure that consumers are not being charged for services that they did not authorize.”
The statement also said:
The settlement resolves allegations that DADATA, Inc., a Pinellas County-based company, and its client companies charged Florida customers for voicemail, e-fax, and other services without the customers’ consent. Many customers were unaware that they were billed for months to years for these unauthorized services on their telephone bills. If customers discovered the charges and complained, they were often only refunded the amount they knew about or two to three months of charges when, in many cases, they had been billed for much longer. The agreement requires the companies to refund all charges billed since July 1, 2009 to eligible Florida customers who did not consent to the service for which they were charged.
Under the settlement, refunds to eligible Florida consumers will be provided through a claims process and they will receive a notice and claim form by mail. Customers who previously received some credit or a refund may be eligible to file a claim for additional money. A website and toll-free telephone number will also be made available. More than 18,000 Florida customers are potentially eligible for refunds, which may total approximately $2.3 million. Individual refund checks are estimated to average $134, and they may be as high as $700.
In addition to the claims process, the company has made or will be making other refunds to more than 53,000 Florida telephone lines, for a total value of more than $2.2 million in addition to the settlement. These include refunds to government lines, telephone accounts of seniors aged 80 to 99 who purportedly enrolled online in the efax, voicemail and other services, and hundreds of customers who provided affidavits of unauthorized charges or provided responses to the Attorney General’s Office during the investigation.
For more information, consumers can call 1-866-966-7226 or visit MyFloridaLegal.com.
A copy of the settlement may be viewed here.