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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

I can't tell you how many times this happened to me. I was incredulous that charges could be made to my phone without my permission. I spent a lot of time getting them removed only to have it happen again.

I WÄNT MY REFUND NOT A CREDIT TOO ATT WÎRELESS ŌOK

Summer' 2016 for refunds. I wonder what AT&T would do if I told them I will probably pay my phone bill Summer' 2016. What did AT&T lobby FTC and now has them in their pocket? It is obvious we are being strung along in time we will get tired of asking for refunds and give up. I think the next step is to file a complaint about the FTC's incompetence for failing to enforce the refunds.

3 weeks after my last comment and NADA. FTC Are you going to do some about this?? ATT isn't paying and they are now listed under "Spring Mobile" charging my account for all kinds of unreasonable fees and they know they can get away with it because is hard to get into a phone company now. They are treating credit for a phone or service as if you were buying a house. I am set to improve my credit so I can leave them. Their data plan and internet residential plan are the worst in service and the "BUNDLE" is not a very good deal. Then they add other services under their "renewal" procedures and then you have to call to remove them!!! what a bunch of thieves and FTC please do something about this there are no refunds anywhere!!! CC

This article about mystery phone charges has tips to use if you see charges being crammed on your phone bill.

If you don’t recognize or understand items or charges on your mobile phone bill, ask your phone carrier about them. Your carrier should be able to tell you more about charges, and your statement should tell you how to dispute errors on your bill.

You can also file a complaint with the FTC online.

Misleading me about data for my cell phone

So any updates on this so far?

Sad thing is....they tell you to call the 1-877 #, and they don't give you any information. It tells ya to go to the website. I'm getting upset being given the run around. I have been patient all this time, just like the others...but this is getting monotonous now!!!! When are we gonna see our money, or is this just a big bogus scam too????

We send out checks as soon as we can. There are several steps in the process. We have to resolve our legal action; get money and information from the company; and prepare and mail checks. Those steps take time.

The FTC has hired Epiq Systems to process refund requests for this case. Final statuses of claims won’t be known until the summer of 2016 when the claim processing and independent audit is complete.

Please visit https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/att-refunds for updates.

When we will receive the ATT back pay of the class demand won on 2014?

I was billed by at&t for so many months for three different third party services without permission and when I found out, they were ready to reimburse $200, but they had taken way more money than that, so, i disagreed. I had filed my claim with FTC, but so far haven't received anything from them. The phone number at FTC never gets me to an operator, please let me know how to reach them.

When you report a problem to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint, the information goes into a database. Law enforcement agencies can see the information in the database. They use the information for investigations.

When you report to the FTC, the FTC does not contact the business for you. The FTC does not provide a personal resolution for your complaint. You can contact the customer service department at AT&T or contact your state Attorney General’s office to request help.

Will checks be mailed out by the end of summer 2016....summer is just about over, and would like to know if we can expect to see something SOON?

When I'll receive the ATT refund from the ATT Settlement of 2014? Waiting to long for the refund!!!Thanks!!! Please respond my question!!!

On July 19, 2016 | this was the reply
We send out checks as soon as we can. There are several steps in the process. We have to resolve our legal action; get money and information from the company; and prepare and mail checks. Those steps take time.

The FTC has hired Epiq Systems to process refund requests for this case. Final statuses of claims won’t be known until the summer of 2016 when the claim processing and independent audit is complete.

Please visit https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/att-refunds for updates.

I'm Upset about this matter of the refunds status: You inform that ATT PAID 105Millions, then changed to 85Millions; but that ATT PAID AND EQUIQ SYSTEMS WERE MAKING THE REFUNDS SINCE MAY, 2015...More of one year, after this date, we still waiting our refunds and you change the answers to our questions. I ask more respect for the consumer, to us! Please and for God sake...When we receive our refunds? We are tired of this! NO MORE EXCUSES!

I think this is a scam it has to be unless FTC is keeping the cash I don't see how refunds can take so long. When T-Mobile was fined over the same issue I got my refund within 3 months of submitting the claim form. This one is just plain all blah blah this is since 2015. I suggest to all in this blog to just forget about it and keep yourself from relying in such a scam. CC

Summer is just about up....I am leaving for vacation the end of October, and was hoping to get the refund before going. This refund lawsuit has been strung along long enough. I'm sure the FTC has more than one person working on this. You all as bad as Walmart...got a whole slew of registers, but only one working!!!

Good one @Sunbaby lol

My husband and I have filed and mailed a claim 2/23/15. When do we receive our refund?

The FTC has hired Epiq Systems to process refund requests for this case. Final statuses of claims won’t be known until the summer of 2016 when the claim processing and independent audit is complete. You can check for updated information on the AT&T refunds page.

The FTC has absconded with " all monies " that were intended to be distributed.

This is government fraud.

I agree

No more update, since last december2015, in the page of AT&T Refunds. That is a waste of time, continuing asking for our refunds.

WHEN ARE WE SUPPOSE TO GET THE REFUND? IT'S BEEN OVER 2 YEARS AND I JUST TALKED TO A REP. AND SAID THEY HAD NO INFORMATION AS TO WHEN THE REFUNDS WILL BE ISSUED!

This is a joke they fist said the spring of 2016 then they changed it to summer of 2016 for payment. Just got off the phone with them still doing the audit. Something is not right about this!

Call the Federal Trade Commission and ask to speak to someone about the AT&T case....they should be able to enlighten someone on the situation.....

Wonder if anyone has consulted a rep from FTC themselves. See if this a legit Class Action Suit. I've never seen one go on this long. I, along with everyone involved, have been waiting long enough for our money. AT&T didn't waIt to sneak our hard earned money out of us, and I don't think tthat we should have to wait either. I'm sure a majority of the adits and what not's have been done already....IF NOT ALL OF THEM. So why make us wait? I know good and well EPIC has way more than one person working on this. Quit taking coffee breaks so much and get us our money.

I have been waiting on my refund May 20,2015 still no refund account number xxx Ware Shoals South Carolina

The reason we have not received our refund is because Epiq Systems has not been doing a darn thing and has been sitting on the audit in anticipation of the buyout (see link below). We have been deceived my friends. What a joke, I am certain the FTC already got their cut in the settlement. The FTC has known this for a long time and Epiq Systems as well as FTC have been stringing us along this whole time. We have been victimized first by AT&T, then by Epiq Systems, and finally by FTC.

"Epiq Systems Agrees to $627 Million Buyout...." (07/27/2016) 

and "Epiq Systems loss grows in second quarter as buyout advances...."

In keeping with our blog comment policy, we removed links to commercial websites.

Summer is over where's our MONEY???

How about in keeping with blog RULES, you guys quit lying to us......? Bridget, I know they pay you to keep us "updated", but c'mon....if you're not going to be sending out checks, WHY string everyone along???

I don't understand why you all are so upset. It is the US government's policy to use the lowest bid contractor, pay first, then chase after the contractor to finish the job. This is all that is happening here.

Got my refund check! 12 cents. Whoopee! Apparently only the lawyers will see any worthwhile money. As usual!

That check is not from the FTC.

The FTC plans to distribute refund money related to the FTC's case before the end of 2016, after the claim processing and independent audit is complete.

well Bridget thanks so much for that, I guess more hope by the end of sometime??? I did get one for 2 dlls and you are correct it doesn't say FTC. We are in October 2016 already, see if the folks at FTC can agree to give it to use before xmas that will be nice after all this waiting. CC

So now when the end of 2016 ends will you Bridget be telling us another story that we won't be receiving our money until 2019??? Please stop commenting Bridget it's getting old with all the excuses you make up!!!!

Although the answer to this question would be above Bridget's pay grade, I'll ask anyways. Which FTC official pockets the interest on this $105M that has been held for so long?

You can find information about the AT&T matter on the AT&T case page.

The October 2014 press release explained that, as part of a $105 million settlement with federal and state law enforcement officials, AT&T Mobility LLC will pay $80 million to the Federal Trade Commission to provide refunds to consumers the company unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges, a practice known as mobile cramming.

The refunds are part of a multi-agency settlement that also includes:

  • $20 million in penalties and fees paid to 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as
  • a $5 million penalty to the Federal Communications Commission.

The Stipulated Order for Permanent Injunction and Monetary Judgment explains how money paid to the FTC under the Order will be used for equitable relief, how the FTC may confer with authorities about redress, and that any funds not used for redress or other equitable relief such as consumer  informational remedies, shall be deposited to the U.S. Treasury as disgorgement as equitable relief, or transferred to the Attorneys General of the Participating States to be used for proper purposes as set forth in their assurances of voluntary compliance, consent decrees, and court orders with AT&T.

I have a good question...when they do issue refunds to all us patient people, what do they do with the money left over? Will they divide that up among all the people getting refunds, or keep it?

The Stipulated Order for Permanent Injunction and Monetary Judgment explains how money paid to the FTC under the Order will be used for equitable relief, how the FTC may confer with authorities about redress, and that any funds not used for redress or other equitable relief such as consumer  informational remedies, shall be deposited to the U.S. Treasury as disgorgement as equitable relief, or transferred to the Attorneys General of the Participating States to be used for proper purposes as set forth in their assurances of voluntary compliance, consent decrees, and court orders with AT&T.

So it is in the government's best interest to delay these sort of payments as long as possible, so there is bigger dividend to go around to various government agencies!

I moved , will I still receive my money? Will they be able to find me? Or do I need to call someone about my address?

Please contact the FTC’s refund contractor at 1-877-819-9692 for more information.

That phone number is automated and only tells you to check the website so why tell people to call that number?

This waiting two years for a refund is just nuts. Has the FTC decided to keep the money for themselves or what? I can't believe it would take this long to refund our money. Claims were filed a year and a half ago......WHERE IS MY REFUND????

I need file an complaint

this claim has been in for some time and there has been no response on this claim of att over charged billing for several years and I have been paying

Although all of us come to this place to vent our frustrations, I must admit that reading the recent comments, three sum up the situation the best.
They are from 9/28, 10/11, and 10/17.
Read them if you have a few minutes.

i like to know what is goning on with this case i filed a claim back in the spring 2015 before the deadline after recieving a letter told me i was a victim . After calling they explained i should expect the refund fall of same year she say between 3 - 9 months now closing in to 2 years and not a word.

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