The agency says Billing Services added charges for unauthorized services such as voicemail and streaming video to bills for about 1.2 million phone lines, a practice known as "cramming." It says the company acted on behalf of an individual it describes as a "serial phone crammer."
The FTC says the cramming occurred from 2006 through 2010 and added about $70 million in bogus charges to phone bills. It says San Antonio-based Billing Services violated a 1999 settlement with the agency that prohibited unauthorized billing.
A company spokeswoman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
The FTC called Billing Services the biggest third-party billing company in the U.S. Billing companies act as middlemen between phone companies and third-party vendors selling services. They collect charges for the vendors' services for the phone companies.
The agency asked a federal court in San Antonio to order Billing Services to pay $52.6 million, which it said is the amount that the company billed consumers and failed to refund.
In a court filing, the agency said the company worked with a "crammer" and her associates to bill consumers for the unauthorized services, which included three voicemail services, one streaming video service, two identify-theft protection services, two directory assistance services and one job skills training service.
The company "made it possible for con artists to steal people's hard-earned money by placing charges on phone bills for services they never ordered or used," David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.