As far as unhappy customers go, the Justice Department is one establishment you wouldn’t want to improperly bill. But that’s exactly what AT&T did. Or so says a new lawsuit. According to Yahoo, AT&T incorrectly billed the government agency for services designed “for use by the deaf and hard-of-hearing who place calls by typing messages over the Internet.” Apparently the system has been rife with fraud overseas and, as a countermeasure, the government ordered telecom companies to register subscribers. AT&T failed to prevent fraudulent activity, fearing its call volumes would decrease, but still knowingly sought reimbursement for international callers who were ineligible for the service. The Justice Department is reportedly seeking to recover millions of dollars from the wireless carrier.
Update: AT&T sent along this comment in regards to this story:
AT&T has followed the FCC’s rules for providing IP Relay services for disabled customers and for seeking reimbursement for those services. 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.