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 also have been an AT&T customer for over 20 yrs. I've never had a problem with getting my needs met with customer service. Every rep has gone above and beyond to to resolve my issues. We've even had success with the reps at the AT&T store. I Hope this lawsuit doesn't feed down to customers abusing the CSR's who are doing a great job. It's their employer that needs to stand and take the punishment they deserve.

No, I too have had no problems with AT&T. I use very few apps, and make sure they are turned off before I log off my phone even if I'm on Wi-Fi. Guess we just got lucky !!

Think I have been charged

If you think you have been charged for services you didn't okay, then please visit ftc.gov/att and apply for a refund.

Wow, the I phone and or it's users are stupid. Buy a droid, turn off the data it's absolutely done. Wifi didn't need to wake up and whatever other apple Crap is in this post. Have had the Samsung g1, 2, 3, 4 and never have not been able to account for every bit coming or going. When I near my limit I turn data off and not a bit moves over the network. Not one. Enjoy your apple clones. I mean phones.

At&t has ben billing me for thirty party for years without me knowing the meaning of that.

I've been getting calls for. My x girlfriend and she won't stop!

I have had third for about 12' months

My mom's line is still getting charged internet usage & the internet is blocked, or supposed to be blocked. That's $20 a hit on her line. She's 90yo...she doesn't even know how to get on her internet on her FLIP PHONE.

I have a similar situation that you mention. I have 3 phones and 1 is a flip. The settlement for this case Vs. AT&T is quite a bit. Has anyone been reimbursed that you know of?

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

Flip phone unlimited data plan is only $5 (if it hadn't been blocked)

They seem to think it is a smart phone

This happened to me a few years back. I caught it right away, and when I called ATT and raised hell they reversed the charges.

I have been charged for these simular bills (third party billing).

This is exactly why I switched to another service where I pay month to month, no contract, flat fee $32/mo. unlimited calls, text, SMS and internet. Best deal ever. AND it runs on the AT&T network. HA! They crammed my son's phone on my package deal under these [mysterious] ways. Never again, and I didn't care others in the store knew what was going on when I departed. Go to a smaller phone store that offers many different phone services and find an off brand service that runs on the AT&T network ... it's all about the network, not the SIM card.

Is this just for mobile devices I hada tt as a home service for a long time then some unknown long distance third party started charging me out of nowhere to the point I dropped the phone service and kept the Internet and was still getting long distance charges

The $105 million dollar settlement with AT&T — the biggest to date with a prominent mobile phone carrier, is related to mobile cramming.

i have had been overcharged for many years.but at&t doesn't care.It's time to stop.they have cheated me out of to much money.I'M DISABLED AND IT'S ALL I CAN DO IS TO HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT.AND 3RD PARTY BILLING SEEMS LIKE FOREVER & NO NEED TO SIGN UP FOR DO NOT CALL LIST THEY DO NOT CARE

How come AT&T won't show you or send you, upon request, an itemized billing that details each instance of data usage? They won't do it. In other words, they cannot prove what they are billing you for. Wow, what a scam. I know that companies find a way to avoid getting sued via class action (another scam) but there must be a way customers can seek recompense. Any ideas out there?

will we be able to know what's going on with the cases

Go to a different provider. I just fired att after 20 years of doing business with them. I saved over $500 with the same phone same plan at Verizon. ATT will never get my business again and I will continue to tell this to all I know.

This is going on more so now than ever,the reason Att is getting away with this is due to their statement "AT&T updates your recent data usage details in myAT&T online every 3 hours. We post the data usage received by myAT&T, which can sometimes take up to 72 hours or longer. The data usage amount shown may not accurately reflect your actual data usage since your last bill".

Now if anyone can figure out what this means, their my supper person. However ATT can hit your account anytime they want to increase your data use and get you to pay for the over charge. It's so simple a way to induce you to keep using data, then add up 3 days of data at months end, and us customers get blinked every time. It's so hard to beat power and money.

I have had both problems. Thankfully, I get zero reception at my house (even though I am 5 miles from a large city center) so the only time they can steal my data I am awake and aware. And calling customer service is a waste of your time, they give you a carrot while they rob you blind. Watch your backs, people and deal with AT&T as you would your neighborhood meth head-they may not be stealing from you right now, but they will...so always keep one eye on them

I feel like i was a victim

I was with them when they were Cingular .there was always a problem with my bill tired of calling them.

Before they took over Cingular, Cingular was great. Then AT&T did the same thing with my Cingular service. Had to go line by line through every bill because they would move weekend minutes to weekdays. Now they put third party charges of 150 to 350 in addition to the monthly service and have the gall to say how much they appreciate us. Not even hiding the lies anymore. Just like the politicians no shame

I want a refund, I've been with AT&T for over 15 years. I'm sure I've been charged.

Please visit www.ftc.gov/att to apply for a refund. You'll need your AT&T mobile phone number or your billing account number.

Checking to see so I qualify

This has been my complaint all along with AT&T! Every month my bill was bigger and bigger and all we had was internet! Finally decided I had enough

I have been paying for charges on my bill for years and they would tell me they don't see them don't know what I am talking about.

I'm absolutely LIVID!!! AT&T shoved over $1200.00 a month for 3 mobile cell phones which 1 phone the battery was pulled and left in our attorney's office and had CHARGES there was NO WAY possible WE WERE CHARGED FOR DEVICES and 9 lines along with UNAUTHERIZED CHARGES THAT BROKE US I WANT MY NAME AN ACCOUNT TO BE CREDITED!!! I know I've CALLED AND ASKED the FTC with SOME KIND OF INVESTIGATION BACK FEB 2012!!!!

Kim- sounds like you were under contract- meaning you'd be billed monthly recurring whether you used the phone(s) or not.

I was with AT&T for about 3 years. My monthly bill was fine for the first year and a half and then it sky rocketed to almost $200 sometime $250. Every time I got my bill I would call customer service and asked why. They could never give me a direct answer. I was forced to just stop paying my bill and have my phone services shut off due to how expensive it was I couldn't afford it and I was locked in with a contract. A phone bill for one person with only one line in use should never be that high. I would like to know if I was scammed and that's why my bill was so high.

AT&T customer since it was initially BellSouth company with the same cell phone 14yrs including 3-separate cell lines......sure I gotta have a refund check coming soon Huh ???!!! Wow, AT&T I really trusted your company.......now what ???

how much the ck. is it more than you paid over the yrs

same here!

They told me that my bill would be low base on my income and when i got my first bill it was high

They told me that my bill would be low base on my income and when i got my first bill it was high

I have had to call off and on throught the years
To see why I have been over charged. I am sure I have
Been paying for hidden charges for years. Our
Bill is always flexuating.

So how do we know if we do have a refund. I have had so many issues and been with AT&T close to 15 years

How do you research billings over 14+years?

The settlement only covers charges made since January 2009. You don't need to know the exact amount that your were charged. If you didn't agree to third-party charges for things like ringtones, horoscopes, or flirting tips, and you think you might have been charged for them, please apply for a refund. Visit ftc.gov/att, click "apply for a refund," and then follow the prompts. You'll need either your AT&T phone number or your billing account number.

examine all cable bills ftc. for starters can you govt employees understand your charges on your cable bills? thought so. att mobile? why stop there-that's not where the action is, my asleep at the switch friends. didn't you start at the att bills for everything, anything, they do? as is said where there is smoke there's fire and they have been having a picnic at our expense. embarrassed yet? hope so.

I'm not suprised you have trouble reading bills. Your grammer is terrible and your sentences don't make any sense. Read a book.

If you're going to bash someone over their spelling, punctuation and grammar, at least spell grammar right. Besides, it's the Internet, it shouldn't be that big of a deal.

*spelling, punctuation, and grammer

At&t has been charging me for a data plan that didn't sign up for,no refund,they just deducted it off my bill,I ask them for a refund they said to couldn't I don't have a smartphone

Please pay attention in school. You don't need a cellphone. You need an education.

Looool

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