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AT&T’s $105 million “cramming” settlement leads to refunds

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Ongoing efforts by the FTC and its federal and state partners to stop mobile cramming have resulted in a whopping $105 million dollar settlement with AT&T — the biggest to date with a prominent mobile phone carrier. Even better news for affected AT&T customers? They might be eligible for a refund. 

According to the FTC, AT&T Mobility, LLC allegedly charged consumers’ mobile phone bills for third-party subscriptions or services that they never ordered or authorized. Many consumers weren’t aware they had been paying — up to $9.99 per month — for seemingly random horoscope text messages, flirting tips, celebrity gossip, wallpaper or ringtones that showed up on their phones.

How were consumers supposed to know about the charges? According to the FTC, AT&T didn’t make it easy. The complaint alleges the phone bills sent to consumers were deceptive because the company lumped together all the charges to make it look like everything was related to AT&T’s mobile phone services. So when a consumer saw the overall balance due, the hidden charges were hard to detect. Even consumers who regularly checked their phone bill line by line every month missed them.

So what’s the bottom line for AT&T consumers affected by the settlement?

  • AT&T will make sure from now on that they have your consent before billing you for third-party charges. 
  • If you contact AT&T about unauthorized third-party charges on your bill, they will provide a refund unless the company has information you consented to the charge.
  • AT&T will continue offering consumers the option to block all third-party charges. Other phone carriers, not just AT&T, offer third-party blocking service for free. Ask your phone carrier about services to block these charges.

Consumers can find out more information about the refund process and submit claims by visiting FTC.gov/att. Unsure if you are eligible for a refund? Contact the FTC’s refund contractor at 1-877-819-9692 for more information. And remember, the FTC never requires consumers to pay money or give financial information to get a refund check.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

AT&T is just one of the big rip offers. Charters Cable, Verizon, Sprint all of them run havoc on the consumers. I am wondering why FTC and other government overseers haven't intervened on the consumers' behalf. Now I see really why I had to let att go. I had 6 lines and different plans yet they were actually charging me a monthly bill of almost a mortgage payment averaging up to $600.00 a monthly contributing to me having to file bankruptcy...because I needed good communications with my doctors and other medical specialists for my permanently health issues! 105 millions dollars isn't tipping the iceberg. I have no pity for att, sprint, Verizon, charter cable company, Comcast etc. They all need to be investigated and heavily fined!

Comcast,Verizon all phone companies are one, same technology,customers hear ring business don't, phone company gets job sends out subcontractor closes all competition not regulated started 2006

I'm not sure if this happened to me or not.

Add me to the list...the crazy data charges no matter what I did to turn everything off and take my teens phones away from them. I would up my data usages and still the charges would go up each month. I spoke to AT&T Reps upon AT&T Reps all telling me the data amounts were crazy and they'd credit my bill some...each month I had to make another phone call and ask for a credit. They'd typically credit it some but since it went up each month the credits never brought my bill down to what I was initially expecting my bill to be. I totally believe AT&T is scamming people and somehow charging hidden data and other charges that the average customer would not understand. I've read all the tricks to cut off phone apps that use data in the background and not to stream music and such and such. I finally after 12 years of it getting so bad in the end switched to Tmobile. They don't lie and cheat me (at least I don't think they do...my bill is always as they say it will be with no hidden data charges). The only thing is they need more towers so that their actual connections are better. I am hopeful they get more and more customers because of the bad lying phone companies like AT&T so that they can have the funds needed to make more towers! I sense that Tmobile possibly began because they too were tired of the run around from the cheating phone companies and they seem to have the mindset to make it better. I may be wrong but I certainly feel better that I at least know what my monthly charges will be.

Add me to the list, whole bunch of crazy charges On my bill in the past.

To People Like RandomGuy1: Not all at&t users are brainiacs like you who do what you do (post negative comments on blogs like this) for a living. Most of us are just trying to keep up with technology and don't take classes that tell us how to use our phones without getting unnecessary charges. We have to hear about it by calling the company and specifically ask why we are being charged. Sadly, when given the information by phone, we're still being charged for the technical support and never have the time to devote to solving above over charging without our knowledge. It's a great thing that at&t has given us the ability to realize that what was allowed was not in our control or know-how, as much as you and people like you, would assume was. I thank at&t for alerting us to this problem and now we know.

Big Brother is watching you...Watching everyone, and charging you for it. It's like Santa Claus.

Yes, I was screwed by AT&T

I have been with at&t when they was Cingular I only had cell with them then I started receiving offers to bundle up tv Internet land line. They started offering money 1st it was 100.00 after a year it went up to 550.00 offer. I accepted there offer one bill for all Services. 550.00 money back. Have never seen that money.all I get is lies.i get 2 separate bills and yes I have 5 lines and the data issue has taken my money I made a big mistake by believing them. I even have insurance. The ccontract cover show a a broken glass phone. My cell was broken thru mail. I was shocked because the cell was messed up the sent a new ph. Then they charges me 550.00 for the new ph. I tryed to get insurance to pay for the glass being broken. All I got was a rude lady saying you have to pay for it.i said what about the insurance I have. I was looking at the insurance brochure while I talking to her. I ask her why do you have a picture of a broken glass and it starts out saying accidents happen. Get insurance to protect in case of accidents. So I purchased the insurance. They lied and I'm sure against the law. I was also told for each person I send to at&t I would be credited 100.00 I sent over 10 people to at&t. I never received any credit again they lied. Now I'm stuck for 2 yrs. Atleast I hope I can recover the data charges. I even upgraded due to going over my data limit from 40.00 to 130.00 two phs. Never used data and those e are the phs. That went over. 15.00 for each gb over my bill went from 70.00 to 408.00 a month this is crazy. Then the charge again for tv. Two separate bill over 600.00 a month. I will try to recover my money. Myself & my daughter has tryed over & over to get my money back. My daughter we thought was sucessfull on the broken ph. After many times so many hours talking to at&t. I was so happy when she told me they will credit you back. I told her thank you so much. It's been 6 months I was never credited. My daughter called them back.they said it was denied. Never has the respect to call tex back saying this. And I have never been able to log into my at&t acct. Because every time I call I reset my password think I fixed the problem. I go to log in with I'd & pw it never allows me in. I've called 5 times they keep giving me the same thing new I'd pw. And I just tryed again come back invalid. I just waste my time everytime. And universe acct I have never seen a bill because it won't let me in to see my bill. And I could mention other incidents. But i feel like again I would be wasting time. I don't know how I can recover all that money. If anyone else wants to step up & sue them again I'm in. I hope I get heard & help that would be a blessing. I don't understand how they are getting away with so much illegal doings. I have all the proof and still they won't acct for their actions or there lies. Who ? Manager the person that gave a free cell. But it's not free I already paid full price for a cell. Now I have to pay again. And they are taking the money laughing at me cause they are getting away with it. If I was rich I would take them down. They are rich on my money.And this is nothing but the truth.

How can I check the status of my FTC claim/refund?

Please visit www.ftc.gov/att to apply for a refund. You should not expect to receive your refund until at least July 2015.The amount of the refund will depend on how much you were charged, and how many people apply for refunds.

I Just got my new bill. Guess what? I have been charged 105 dollars for an upgrade.A what?? All att would say was that new(replacement box) will be 105 dollras tyvm.Aren't you glad you went with ATT?.I just looked at my contract from 5 years ago.Guess what?That box I supposedly upgraded too?Well it comes with my package.I never have gotten it until now.yep 5 years with a promise in writting and I never got it.When they finally gave it to me there was an extra 105 dollars on my bill for the upgraded dvr. TY ATT. ANd Thank God I have every thing recorded from att and from my contract.SCrew this refund b.s. Let a lawyer with guts call me. I'd gladly sink ATT in a heartbeat.

I've been ATT for 6 years and over this time I've called countless times to get my bill fixed for overages. Never set yourself up for an AUTOPAY plans with ATT. I have to call several times a year to get my bill fixed - basically, what I've done is to calculate my monthly bill with taxes and anytime it goes over that I call them. 99% of the time the CS takes care of it but very rarely do they ever acknowledge/fix the problem with their billing system. A couple of years back I realized they were charging me taxes for another State that I used to live in, even though my address had been updated ages ago. After dogging it for a while I got $300 back from ATT.

i dont remember all the phones ive had with att since 2009. will they do the research for me? i have multiple lines now too.

You can find out more information about the refund process and submit claims by visiting FTC.gov/att. If you aren't sure if you are eligible for a refund, contact the FTC’s refund contractor at 1-877-819-9692 for more information. File for a claim by May 1, 2015.

My charges keep going up even when I'm on wi-fi. I work in technology and I'm usually not too dumb about this. I'm not sure why I would get texts stating that I'm over my data plan even when connected to wi-fi for several hours prior to the text.

Is the only way out of this to switch companies?

The same things are happening to me right now but don't know what to do.

I need all the overcharge that has occured

I've had ATT for years. I'm not really sure if I was overcharged based on this information, but I went ahead and filed a claim..but who really does? How will the FTC be able to wade through all the data to see if a person was actually crammed?

Please visit ftc.gov/att  for information about the refund process.

my bill was a whole lot higher then the 1 showed x's 3

I had those charges appear as monthly charges and when I complained, AT&T said it was my responsibility to read the bill. They said that the billing service had received a text message from me authorizing the billing, but when I asked the billing company to produce a copy of the text, they couldn't. I complained to the FTC and I got a nice letter and phone call from AT&T saying that they had the right to make these charges without my consent.

This has to do with the ethics of AT&T. And ethics are just people making decisions. We can all decide which company we want do business with.

I am commenting for my brother. He received letters regarding the matter with AT&T. He informed me that he had "GO Phones" which did not require a bill as he paid as he went. He is not sure if he is qualified for this refund.

the sudden increase of data usage may be due to an app that is stuck and constantly using the att network. This happend to me early last year. When i had downloaded dropbox. I was using up to a gig a day. I called and complained. They tried to brush me off but I wouldn't let up. Finally apple suggested use an app to monitor data usage. This is how i found out it was dropbox. I sent screenshots to AT&T and Apple and I was refunded the excess amount charged. Needless to say i deleted dropbox. I hope this helps out.

I was lucky enough to discover the third-party charges by combing through my statement. When I called AT&T to have them revoked, the agent accused me of signing up for the service (which I most certainly did not do - some monthly horoscope). Glad this action is taking place.

I had 6 months of BS from At&t. Every month I would have to go in the store and dispute the extra charges that they "had no idea what they were or how it happened". I had a restricted account that I was the only one who could authorize added features which I never did. I wonder if At&t is just going to add this suit to the consumers bills like the last one.

In 2005 I took a trip to Europe without my husband with the kids. I had thought when I called to order an AT&T international calling plan, that the person on the other end of the phone did the actual work of entering it. They did not, and when I got home from a lovely trip abroad, I was stuck with a $1,200 phone bill even though they had proof that I had called and talked to someone about it before I left. They told me that I ultimately was legally responsible for the bill and that they had no legal liability. Creepy?

After filing a claim through the FTC site, any idea how long it will take to be notified if you are to receive a piece of this settlement?

You can read about the refund process at ftc.gov/att. The FTC has hired Epiq Systems to process refund requests for this case. You should not expect to receive your refund for at least 9 months. If you have questions, call 1-877-819-9692.

I once got a bill for 976.00 dollars; I know I only used my phone for calls....local calls....I did see what the charges were for and disputed the amount, they finally removed those phony charges.....( I had a big fight with my Girlfriend because of this....dating websites and so on....that I never used...!!!!) But I'm sure there must've been other hidden charges I didn't catch....

how do I get in on a class action lawsuit against AT&T? i hate them! They robbed me so much and terrible service. I just found out the insurance I was paying for a phone was no good really. I was paying 9.99 a month for their insurance and they want to charge me an outrageous amount to replace my phone that was dropped with a cracked screen! I am furious with this company. Can somebody help me if there is a class action law suit against them, i am wanting to get on board with it.

How Do I Get My Refund

To get more information about the refund process and submit a claim, go to FTC.gov/att. If you aren't sure if you're eligible for a refund, call the FTC’s refund contractor at 1-877-819-9692.

Checking to see if I qualify

Get information about the refund process and submit a claim by visiting FTC.gov/att. If you aren't sure if you're eligible for a refund, call the FTC’s refund contractor at 1-877-819-9692.

Att is crap! I noticed my data usage suddenly going over at same time this class action was open for refund. Never in all the years had I ever used more than 20mb at most. Wifi always kicked back in from dead spots. All of a sudden in 1 week I'm over my usage? So now I leave data off unless a messages have a download which won't open w/ wifi. I called att told them look at my history and I better not see those charges. They make me sick! they can't hide it now so they not going to auto reconnect wifi now. Noticed it when they sent my phone auto upgrade that I had no choice in getting. After 20+yrs I'm out w/ att soon as contract up. This ia an evil empire. Good luck to those that stay.

They have done it to me also

I so fed up in 2007 I own iphone4
I call tat for updated on 2014 of nov told me I'm getting a new phone cause all iphone4 are used one she said plus Galaxy 4 is great and easy to use further more you get a free tablet note pad just for all this 35.00

you can watch tv (what I have not use cause don't have op it)
great bargain huh
Oh by the way must be in a contract for two years
I know I could go Walmart like my husband does but I'm not him
I like G4 but still slow so why am I charge over 120. A month
When I use to pay 79.buck
Then when I was paying insurance for my Iphone4 when need one due phone got wash in the washer no help I hold on iPhone4 from 2007 to 2014 and now
That my phone Galaxy 4 need fixing
ATT said I have buy a band new one when I use to get it half price
Scrammer
One month later a bill six hundred dollar

first off for every one who blames the costomers.
And if millions of them have the same problem you do what?
Nothing if it makes you that much money!
Secondly if they did care as much about there costomers then why not use that money for a program to close those apps, and make sure your compleatly connected to the wireless so your not charged?
Also in there monthly pay as you go plans.
Have fun when there plans up and they purposely slow your data usage.
Cause with out the old programs that turned higher formats into lesser ones.
Your you tube is compleatly useless with out downloading an unsafe app so it stops being forced to reboot repetitively.

I think the real main problem is not with the malic of the company.
Although yes it is definitely there.
I think it's from the caliose way these companies just don't seem to be fixing there failing systems.

Think about how a computer keeps a page compared to how the iPhone is forced to constantly keep a current page connected or compleatly be disconnected.

Ever wounder why?
I mean wouldn't it be easier to have an already loaded page just sit there in data?
So why if your connection is cut, does the page often close?
I mean if it's already in the functioning ram to be shown to you in the first place.
Tell me how does that work?

So the program chooses to close it because the connection was lost.
And that's functional how?

Maybe if enough of us pull out.
And enough money is lost these designs will be made more stable from all the companies involved.
And blaming the consumers for flawed designs, and charges will slowly fade to the slightly annoying.
Instead of the not consistent realm that agrivates is now.

As for att.
Yup don't blame the people for that.
They need to be put in there place to keep there company going.
People will only put up with so much.
If they pride there function to be better then every one else's.
Let them prove it to the point there costomers can believe.
As well the other companies involved in these silly repugnant situation.
Cause if this is how an IPhone will keep screwing up.
I can honestly just stick to my computer, and get a flip phone.
My lap top will be able to get the same service in the next ten years any ways.
It's called a plug in modem.
Enjoy.

Horrible way ATT customers are being handled. When you call 611, ATT forces you to listen to their ads. The ATT employees do not speak and or understand English very well any more.
I questioned why was a charge of 1.8 GB was deducted the first day of a new billing month without ever being on line.
After 40 minutes on the phone at 611 and even speaking to a supervisor I was just told my phone used 1.8 GB no other explanation. I also went the a corp. ATT store the same day, and was told the same thing, we don’t know what your lap top did or what your apps on your phone were doing, you just used up 1.8 GB, go away.
Us customers have no way of reconcilement how ATT loges or measure our usages, we are just told you used that much. This seems like a pure rip off, add up fee of $10. to $15.00 for over usage, on 70% of customers a month for how many millions, that’s big bucks. GREED, PURE GREED
Also how about the apps that are allowed, by both the internet servicers and phone companies, they know these apps eat up your usage and they love it when customers download them, more $$$ for all concerned. Again GREED
Play the game, call and complain about how your paid for GB’s are despairing and why you can’t find out anything more than what is told to you, by them. Every phone call is logged, we need a log of every internet charge.

ATT sucks! My husband is no longer on an att phone and they did not want to come down on the charges until I talked ignorant to them. So they came down to $78 and I still had only 500 anytime and they charged my phone in april $116.00 more which came to $135.00 or $153.00 for the month of May, 2015.

Today May 2nd, is the alleged "deadline" for filing the claim, per the website. But if you ACTUALLY try to file the claim, it says the deadline is passed. If you call the 1-877 number you are told to file the claim online. Wherever Joe Stalin and Nikita Kruschev are, they'd be proud their "system" has been embraced by the US Government in 2015. See what we get for electing and reelecting a feckless, know nothing, do-nothing as President....

Cannot apply for refund on supposedly last day, cannot get anyone on the line this is just another rip off from tge FTC who is watchdog over who?

Refunds for AT&T's cramming were cut off on 5/1 - but were supposed to be available through 5/2.

Confusion on filing deadline. The deadline for filing an AT&T refund on the FTC's website states May 2, 2015. Their phone line states they are experiencing high call volume since today is the last day to file. However, when go to their website to file a claim it denies you access stating deadline is over???

BRIDGET SMALL>>>>>I DO NOT WANT CREDIT ON MY AT&T BILL>>>I WANT THE REFUND CHECK>>>WHO MADE UP THIS RULE????????

As explained on the www.ftc.gov/att, the deadline for applying for a refund was May 1, 2015.  If you applied for a refund and are eligible, you should expect to get a refund check. The FTC never requires people to pay money or give financial information to get a refund check.

Has anyone receive a refund from this yet? I filled out paperwork quite some time ago and was wondering if this is so. Thanks.

@Micheleososkie, I came here right now wondering the same thing. I never got a refund either and I filled out the paperwork quite some time ago, as well.

How does the 105 million dollars get disbursed?? how much did at&t keep from all the money they made from 3erd party charges? if at&t or any other carrier for that matter gets to keep millions off of their scams then they will just continue doing it, example, the throlling case, they were imposed a fee and fine, however, they made 100's of millions and got a slap on the hand, why would they not do it again?? now every other carrier is doing it, metro pcs is actually stopping your service during the night when you are sleeping and or you don't use your phone, providing the service to other customers that are awake and using it. its crazy, these slaps on the hands won't stop these corporation from scamming the millions of customers they have. at&t has over 100 million customers in the usa, 300 million customers worldwide, all they have to do is cheat, steal $1.00 dollar from each of them and that makes them 300,000,000.00. how can this be stopped?? metro pcs is in the same route at&t was and will most likely get away with it also. please, how do we stop these practices??? at&t has over 35 billion dollars in capital reserves, how much of it was from trolling? 3erd party billing, overage charges, etc??

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