Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a False Claims Act case filed in Massachusetts. Attorney General Martha Coakley oversaw the settlement. The lawsuit alleged that between September 2006 and October 2012 Verizon’s New England unit charged landline consumers, who were on state contracts, a rate higher than the one permitted by the state.
Verizon will also have to provide refunds to consumers who were wrongfully charged. However, most of the overbilling charges are minimal, and the majority of the municipal and state consumers, including schools. Providers were charged around $10 in excess of their rightful bill. The largest overcharge was to the MBTA, which was charged $52,000 in excess.
This is not Verizon’s first case of overcharging consumers. In November, the company was charged $1.4 million for using deceptive marketing practices and misrepresenting service charges of its Maryland FiOS users. In October, it paid $64.2 million for overcharging on its Family Share Plan. In 2010, it paid a $25 million fine, along with $52.8 million to give refunds to users who had been improperly billed. The carrier had also previously paid $90 million for unlawfully charging users for Internet usage.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers