updated 02:55 pm EDT, Thu March 22, 2012
AT&T sued for wrongly billing millions to FCC
The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against carrier AT&T for allegedly wrongly billing the government for millions of dollars. The charges were for IP Relay phone calls, which is a text-based communications service for hearing-impaired people. While the users don't need to pay, the FCC is charged $1.30 per minute by carriers.
IP Relays involve typing a message over the Internet, which is then relayed by communications assistants employed by carriers, such as AT&T. Rampant fraud forced the FCC to introduce laws in 2009 that required that carriers validate a user's name and mailing address. In the lawsuit, the DoJ maintains AT&T didn't check that users were within the US. The invoices were for international users, who aren't eligible to use the service. As much as 95 percent of the billings were such ineligible calls.
The matter was revealed by an employee of the AT&T IP Relay call center
AT&T objected to the lawsuit, arguing that abuse was difficult or impossible to avoid. "AT&T has followed the FCC’s rules for providing IP Relay services for disabled customers and for seeking reimbursement for those services," it said in a statement to Electronista. "As the FCC is aware, it is always possible for an individual to misuse IP Relay services, just as someone can misuse the postal system or an email account, but FCC rules require that we complete all calls by customers who identify themselves as disabled. "[via MobileBurn]