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

Share this page

(click to enlarge)

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

how do I get refund for the unauthorized charges Att put on my mobile phone bill CAPTCH

You can find out more information about the refund process and submit claims by going to FTC.gov/att. If you aren't sure you are eligible for a refund, call the FTC’s refund contractor at 1-877-819-9692 for more information. And remember, the FTC will never require you to pay money or give financial information to get a refund check.

I have been with at@t for years never new this ken

I believe I've been taken a vantage by AT&T with my phone and cable bill.

This is the least of my problems with AT&T. I had TWO accounts with them. One of them had my son, husband & I and the other one was just for my college aged daughter. I called many months ago to see how I can save $'s & the Cust SVC agent said I should MERGE the 2 acct's. That it'd save me well over $100 per month. Of course I agreed. The acct that had the 3 of us on it had a balance at the time. The cust service agent TOLD ME he was going to "wipe that slate clean for me"... I was SO thankful. This merge took a long while - he was having trouble adding my daughter to my account so instead he finally decided to add the 3 of us to my daughters acct (again - still in MY name & I'd been paying the bill for this for years). Mind you I've been with At&t forEVER - since BEFORE they were At&t...they were Cingular...remember? LONG time, good standing customer. I tried a few months ago to add my niece - who's mom passed away from cancer to my account that we're all on now. I was told online that doing it in person was best - that it'd cost me ONLY $15 more per month to add her. Well... after being in the store for over TWO hours I was told - by a NOT very nice customer service agent that I had to call from the store that I couldn't do it because... GET THIS - I had a balance from my "OTHER" account!! At the time the cust service agent that merged by 2 acct's the bill was a little over $90 - I was being told in the store that my bill was NOW almost $300 AND that it was now IN COLLECTION!!! I was floored to say the least - the store clerk felt real bad. He actually muted the agent/supervisor on the phone & told me to just say "I'm taking my business after ALL these years to Verizon or At&t"... The agent/supervisor on the phone said... "That's your choice 'Mam". Mind you - at this point I was in tears because they had ruined my credit! I hadn't gotten ANY calls or bills about the other account that was supposed to be closed and "wiped clean" of any $'s owed. I emailed all of this to At&t - ANOTHER cust svc agent called me & in the end all she said was "SORRY M'am... you will have to straighten this out with the CREDIT collector" and basically wished me luck with another carrier!!! I'm of course stuck with At&t now because of their fees - if I cancel my contract for 4 phones I will owe more than I could ever afford to pay. NO one will help me on this and my credit is ruined AND they just don't give a damn. Now the news is saying we can get $'s back At&t cheated from us... HOW do I get them to help ME with this issue??????? The bill is now over $300. I do NOT know the old account # because it's closed & in collection I can't even log into it - and even if I wanted to the 1st sales agent that talked me into all of this made that account accessible to me when the merged happen. I think it ALL has to do with him not being able to add my daughter to my acct that had the 3 of us on it - the way it took so long that day just didn't seem right - ... I think I got screwed because of him but I can't prove it. Thanks At&t... your customer loyalty is bar none the worse I've ever worked with.

Replied on the wrong one but if you want to see what I posted it is under the one following you.

Call (855)370-0031, it's a direct line to Customer Relations; I have not actually called it yet, but plan on calling them tomorrow. My "little" matter with AT&T involves both Apple and Best Buy, which I made sure had documented information for my case and recorded phone calls with Apple and Best Buy Customer Relations before calling AT&T with the issue at hand. I guided the Rep. through process of upgraded phone via www.att.com to show her what I had on them. Of course she promised me the world and when I called back, she made very little notes from our call: "Customer called in confused about why AT&T Corporate and their AT&T Retail stores Sales Reps were doing everything in their power to convince customers that upgrading via AT&T Next Program was far better deal vs. signing a 2-year Contract that all wireless customers are accustom to." Customer asked me to not to go through side-by-side comparison because limited time. Advised Customer to go with the AT&T Next Program whenever decide to upgrade." Customer informed me that he was very resourceful and knows that when people upgrade via 2-year Contract route to get discounted phone price (ex. $199 for avg. smartphone), AT&T & other mobile companies made $0.00 off the sale; which is why all carriers gradually increased their Upgrade Fee. Then customer stated he understands benefit for carriers to slowly get away from 2-year contract idea and doesn't blame one bit. Then stated was just upset for all the people who didn't do their research and crunched the numbers themselves & factor in taxes (because AT&T Reps omit taxes b/c easier to explain; b.s.), and even employees in AT&T stores, Verizon, etc....should have eased into it over 2-3 years. Asked Customer if anything else I could assist him with and he said no."

Before AT&T Rep. was able to hang-up, I informed her that I placed a call to Apple and Best Buy Customer Relations (both of which I'm a Preferred Customer) and made them aware of the trickery AT&T was using to get Customers to come into AT&T retail store to upgrade, particularly the one's that per-ordered with Apple or Best Buy. Ended by saying, "Just thought you might want to make note, but more importantly wanted our little chat to be recorded because now the ball is Apple, Best Buy and my court, goodbye!"

Wish I could tell everyone on the forum what it was that I caught AT&T red handed on, but promised Apple upper management I would keep quiet; assured me AT&T would have to answer to the issue at hand. Enough of all that, I could go on for days about it because I'm a very analytical person and when my gut tells me that someone or Corporate America in the wrong when it comes to servicing the consumer.

Before you call, try to come up with a general time frame when phone conversation conversation occurred with agent that advised to merge your account with your daughter; the narrower the timeframe, the better. Next, call the bill collection agency and ask the could they please provide you with the AT&T account # associated the $300 they were hired to collect from you, by law they have to be provided with an account #; only medical bill collections are exempt from providing account # of patient. If you don't have # for collection, call 611 from phone and chose prompts for billing inquires, then ask for name and # for collection agency they use; if use more than one, ask if they could look Agency your closed account was turned over to using SS#; billing address; and Cell # associated with acct, etc. Keep asking until you get it. Try to keep your composure and kill them with kindness; being persistent will also help.

Lastly call the number I first listed, let them know that you merged two accounts to save $ via family plan (back in Month of 20XX). Give them current family plan account # & account # for closed account; provide them with time frame when all this occurred. Lastly, ask them to look back through notes made on both accounts at that or daughters account. From there, give them your personal recount of the conversation b/t you and the Customer Service Rep.

**Stress how long you've been a loyal customer.
**If you get know where, file a claim with Better Business Bureau; could file claim with FTC as well, but BBB is deals with individual cases and are associated with the FTC.

Hope all the information above proves to be useful in your quest to make your quest to make AT&T clean up their mess. I was an Investigator Auditor for separate Government Agency that keeps cities, counties, states, federal multiple government branches in check before moving to public accounting not because it paid better, but because governmental accounting was same thing over and over each year; I like challenges.

Good Luck!

To find an account that's in collection, simply go online and get a free credit report. It will be on there. I know it's upsetting but you really need to be proactive. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. Find the name of the collection agency, call them, NEGOTIATE THE NUMBER DOWN. They probably only paid pennies on the dollar to your debt so don't be afraid to completely disregard that $300 nonsense. In the future, please please please always ask for proof! Customer service agents are liars and half the time don't know what they're doing. that's why I like to use the chat feature for ATT customer service so I have a copy of everything that was said!

do not negotiate with the collection agency. nEGOTIATE WITH THE CREDITOR. tELL THEM YOU WILL ONLY PAY THEM AND NOTA COLLECTION AGENCY. yOU WILL PAY LESS THIS WAY BECAUSE THERE IS NOAGENCY FEE TO PAY. tHE CR\]

I have learned that when I refuse to deal with a collection agency, and only pay the actual creditor, I pay much less. When you deal with a collection agency you will pay more because they want their fee.

At&t has been charging
ME 9.99 a month for
8-12 months for the
Beats.now my bill
Went from 90.00 to
61.00 dollars.

I have been with AT&T for four use. I am now sitting on a bill for over $700 because of a $15 charge for 1GB of extra data. I refuse to pay a car payment for a phone bill....just saying

I know you're pain, and I feel those charges should be refunded as well. How are you going to charge me for another gigabyte of data without even asking me? I called AT&T customer service and was told that they sent out a text message stating my set date limit was aboutto be reached. When I told her te text wasn't recieved until after they charged me, she told me, "I'm sorry" and told me i should put parental settings on my account to moniter the data usage. That's another $5 a month! So, like I said earlier, how can they charge me for extra data when I never gave the ok for it?

Read the 46 page "Wireless Customer Agreement" ("Agreement")you had to agree to, to get service. Just like everyone else must. Just never admit to having a first born!

AT&T is your best friend if you are NOT under contract. Once you have a contract. ... hang it up. They do not care.
They somehow took over my long distance several years ago on landline phone. I had sent 60 faxes to clients to let them know of a change of number out something. Paid someone to manually do this. Got a bill from them @$2 a call. Fought with them for months. My long distance was locked with another company.
The company seems to be better now but still. ...I hate contacts because they know they have you. Whatever you want from them you best get it before you lock in for two years. Have been with them since 1992. Yet, have to sign a contract before you can get a new phone.
if they only realized that when they have loyal customers. .. They need to keep them.
I could tell the Cingular customer service people from ATT after they merged. I used to ask them
and they asked how I knew. Customer service. It says it all.

Can u check to see if we payed to much

James M. Gager
It seems my bill is never the same twice. granted I am busy and monitoring the charges and continually speaking to customer service about fees has be exhausting. I see wireless charges $5.15 here and there but these have often been explained as ansalary fees. never thuroughly explained. You expect they will do the right thing as you are a "preferred customer" as they state at the conclusion of each phone consult with CS.

Are bills from that period available online?

I was a customer for ten years! I could never get answer why my bill so high!

I WAS AN ATT WIERLESS CUSTOMER OVER 20 YEARS, HAVE RECENTLY CHNAGED CARRIERS DUE TO BILLING

I was on a tight budget and had been hit with all kinds of charges. Then could not pay for the line and lost it. Now in collections, this is rediculous.

We had been AT&T customers from the beginning of cell phones and my wife would just go ahead and pay the total without looking, just changed from at&t to T-mobile because of charges every month that we did not approve, I wonder if there is any way to get copy of bills from that far back or if there is a max amount to recoup.

I actually began a arbitration against these sobs for this very reason, which settled in my favor but now I see that I may be able to recover my arbitration cost. 105M not enough.

at$t did over charge us for years

please put them in their place'at$t wants take over.

I had a different number before will I get money back I hope I couid really use money alright thank you

This company is terrible I'm still a costumer but if my bill isn't fixed this month I will cancel

Have caught this on our bill several times on AT&T over the last several years. Always had to call and pitch a fit to get it taken off.

with atat for 16 yr , called 30 times about charges, they owe me a ton !!!!!

It always makes me wonder why all of these people that say they have been with the company for so long and are getting charged too much stayed. A contract is only 2 yrs. 16 yrs. Is 8 contracts. WHY WOULD YOU STAY IF YOU HAD THAT MUCH OF A PROBLEM WITH THEM?

how do i sign for an att refund

Will they send it automatically or do we have to file a claim?

Yes you have to file a claim, its ftc.gov/att

How would you know charges by AT&T is legal and related to phone use I always is being charged for group use which the phone is seldom use and could,see e mail to my yahoo from a third party to my yahoo account

there was always some kind of stupid charge I would call att and complain and a couple times they would make a adjustment tell you you can change your number for free then we you get the bill they charged you 30 dollars for it

This happened to me!

I have third party charges on my bill

we have been charged for extras on our bill too.

How do we know if we have been charged since we don't receive a bill from them and haven't for a while. They have me signed up for paperless even though I don't remember asking for that.

You can contact the FTC’s refund contractor at 1-877-819-9692 to find out if you're eligible for a refund.

It looks like my bills , I was paying tremendous amount every mount. They change the service starting yesterday to less amount, I hope is true.
this for one year the lady said, !!

Refund for illegal billing

would like to know if i am eligible for a refund

my bill wioth at&t was sop high I thought I was paying a house note

we got service with att over 3 months ago, and haven't been satisfied at all, was told a bunch of lies and also I bill constant went up and wasn't the price we was quoted.

Left att due to high billing that was never current. Always different. Made no sense

It about time someone stop yall

We also have gotten third Party billing for the last year

checking to see if I have been over charged

I had an AT&T cellphone from 02-2006 thru 02-2010. Am I eligible for a refund?

Yes, if you had any unapproved third-party charges after Jan. 1, 2009, you can apply for a refund. You'll need either your AT&T phone number or your billing account number. Please visit www.ftc.gov/att to apply.

Pages

Leave a Comment