Check to see if you get a refund – AT&T will pay $105 million for unauthorized charges on customer bills

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Listen up, AT&T customers: You may be in for a refund.

AT&T has agreed to pay $105 million for “cramming” unauthorized charges on the monthly bills of its wireless customers, federal and state regulators announced Wednesday.

The charges — typically $9.99 per month — came from third-party services for things like trivia, horoscopes and love tips. AT&T is accused of keeping at least 35% of the fees, as well as obscuring the charges on bills and preventing customers from securing full refunds.

The deal is the largest cramming settlement in history, and includes the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, as well as all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.

“This case underscores the important fact that basic consumer protections — including that consumers should not be billed for charges they did not authorize – are fully applicable in the mobile environment,” FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said.

You can check on whether you were affected and apply for a refund on the FTC’s website by clicking here.

The FTC filed a similar lawsuit back in July against T-Mobile, alleging that the carrier earned a windfall in recent years from third-party merchants offering bogus text message subscriptions for things like flirting tips, horoscopes and celebrity gossip. Regulators have brought seven cases related to mobile cramming in the past year, and FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said more were coming.

“For too long, consumers have been charged on their phone bills for things they did not buy,” Wheeler said. “It’s estimated that 20 million consumers this year are caught in this kind of trap, costing hundreds of millions of dollars.”

AT&T said in a statement that it and a number of wireless carriers had offered third-party “Premium Short Messaging Services” in the past few years.

“While we had rigorous protections in place to guard consumers against unauthorized billing from these companies, last year we discontinued third-party billing for PSMS services,” the company said.

“Today, we reached a broad settlement to resolve claims that some of our wireless customers were billed for charges from third-parties that the customers did not authorize.”

Some $80 million of the settlement has been set aside for customer refunds, along with $25 million in penalties due to regulators.

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5 comments

  • Ben Dillinger

    I have been an ATT customer for ten years and have paid more fees each year since I signed up. My bill has not been less than 150 dollars since I signed up. Its time for ATT to give something back

  • Rick

    Another way to milk those lawyer fees: You should not expect to receive your refund for at least 9 months.

    • Say What

      If not for those lawyers, AT&T would still be getting away with this behavior! Your bad mouthing lawyers is supporting this type of behavior by corporations!

  • Jessica

    I’m willing to bet EVERY SINGLE AT&T customer was ripped off. I had to call EVERY single month, month after month after month to dispute charges. When I was finally fed up, I literally had to yell at them to discontinue my services. It’s like they wouldn’t listen to me! I felt like I was in twilight zone or something. They truly are the devil, lol. I’m not holding my breath for any just compensation.

  • Regina Martin

    I had at&t for years my bill was never what they said it would be over the months it kept getting higher and higher I had to call every month fighting about my bill it got up to 300.00 dollars and I finally said I had enough I told them to cut my phone off I would never do buisness with them again and I haven’t . thank you Regina

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