Verizon will pay up to $64M to settle lawsuit claiming it over-billed for family calling plan

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) is the latest carrier to face consequences for alleged deceptive billing practices. The carrier will pay as much as $64.2 million in cash and phone credits to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed the carrier over-charged customers on its Family Share Plan, which let subscribers share minutes and call each other for free.

The lawsuit accused Verizon of charging customers who had the plan by either charging them for "in-network" minutes that were meant to be free or by charging customers with additional phones on the plan 45 cents per minute for exceeding an allotted minute allowance instead of the 25 cents that was charged to the primary phone on the plan.

According to The Consumerist, under the proposed settlement Verizon customers who used the family plan between May 11, 2002, and May 10, 2006, will soon get notifications about the agreement once the judge in the case approves it. 

Verizon declined to comment on the settlement, according to GigaOM.

According to The Consumerist, Verizon is going to pay $36.7 million into a fund that will be distributed as cash or phone bill credits to customers. The deal also calls for Verizon to give customers who were charged for "in-network" minutes PIN numbers that can be used for domestic or international calls, an arrangement that is valued at $27.5 million.

Regulators have put carriers in their cross-hairs over billing practices lately. The Federal Trade Commission this week filed a lawsuit against AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), alleging that the carrier misled as many as 3.5 million customers with legacy unlimited data plans by throttling their data speeds and changing the terms of their plans. AT&T said the lawsuit does not have any merit.

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) is looking to settle an FTC lawsuit that alleges the carrier netted hundreds of millions of dollars by knowingly charging customers for purported "premium" SMS subscriptions that, in many cases, were "bogus charges" subscribers never authorized.

And earlier this month AT&T agreed to pay a $105 million penalty to settle an FCC investigation that concluded the carrier billed customers millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party subscriptions and premium text messaging services. The FCC settlement was the largest enforcement action in its history.

For more:
- see this filing (PDF)
- see this GigaOM article
- see this DSL Reports article
- see this The Consumerist article

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