June 6, 2012 | last updated June 11, 2012 5:50 pm

CT warns about UST-US Telecom billing scam

Connecticut's consumer watchdog is alerting businesses, schools and municipalities to be aware of a warranty-billing scam that several state agencies recently managed to avoid.

State Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubinstein announced Wednesday an investigation into UST-US Telecom that has sent invoices to state agencies and may also be targeting municipalities, schools, businesses and other government agencies, for a warranty to cover preventative maintenance for technology services.

"We have been notified by State agencies that received these invoices; they indicate they are not working with UST or US Telecom for warranty services, and are unfamiliar with them as vendors," Rubenstein said today. "We've discovered that UST - US Telecom was cited recently by New York and North Dakota for deceptive practices in those states."

The billing invoices gave no product information and no indication that a contract was in the offering, nor did it include advertising or solicitation purpose, giving the impression that the service was already rendered and payment now due.

In Connecticut, invoices for $425 were mailed by UST – US Telecom to at least two state agencies: motor vehicles and the Department of Education, Rubinstein said. Invoices may have also been sent to school districts and municipal agencies, as occurred in cities nationwide before the scam was identified.

Rubinstein said the company is listed on numerous fraud alert websites; currently the state is aware of hundreds of complaints about UST – US Telecom and this fraudulent billing practice.

UST Development, Inc. does business as UST and US Telecom, and is a California corporation with its principal place of business at 305 North Sacramento Avenue, Ontario, California, but is currently using the mailing address of PO Box 970, Laverne, California.

Anyone who has received an "invoice" from UST or US Telecom for unordered, undelivered or unsolicited services is encouraged to notify the Department of Consumer Protection at dcp.tradepractices@ct.gov or call 1-800-842-2649.

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