Washington Residents Sue Over Hidden Cell Phone Charges

Spokane, Wash. - You'll want to take a closer look at your cell phone bill this month because it may contain hidden fees for text message services you never signed up.

This week, a class action lawsuit was filed in Spokane on behalf of a Liberty Lake man who discovered unauthorized charges on his cell phone bill.

"Anyone who works hard for their money is going to feel upset if they are charged wrongly," said Hong Huang.

In April, Huang noticed an extra $9.99 charge on his cell phone bill from a company called

Huang dug deeper and discovered he'd been paying the extra charge for nearly a year.

"I was just pretty frustrated, I was upset because it's just not fair and I didn't subscribe to it," he said.

Huang knew he couldn't be alone so he contacted Toby Marshall, a Seattle attorney to figure out what was going on.

"It's so deceptive," said Toby Marshall with Terrell Marshall Daudt & Willie, a Seattle based law firm.

According to the lawsuit, 23 text message companies have been engaging in a practice called "cramming."

According to The Federal Trade Commission cramming happens when a company adds an unauthorized charge to your phone.

"When you get the text, if you don't opt out of it. Basically if you don't respond back and say stop or something like that, they assume that you are now enrolled," said Marshall

Marshall said that's when you start incurring a subscription fee on your cell phone bill.

"Instead of a text between you and a friend, it's a text about weather, or it's about news or maybe it has song lyrics in it," said Marshall.

The lawsuit alleges the companies unfair business practices have billed thousands of Washington customers out of millions of dollars.

According to the lawsuit, Verizon customers in Washington alone have been billed $80 million dollars in unauthorized fees.

The listed defendants have worked with all the major cell phone carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.

Verizon and the Texas Attorney General have both filed lawsuits against at least one of the companies listed in the class action lawsuit.

"I just hope that a lot of people can really get their money back," said Huang.

One of the 23 defendants denied the allegations.

If you believe you have unauthorized text message fees on your cell phone bill contact Toby Marshall at 206-816-6603/ or Matt Zuchetto of The Scott Law Group, P.S. at 888-955-3966.