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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

So AT&T is being sued for mobile purchases... Puechased from smartphones...

Where do we add our names to the list of people that were taken advantage of by AT&T?

I been with att for 10 years and thay been over charging my account $600.00 $500.00 $400.00 and. It got so high and being on a fixed , income it was hard for me My husband disabled his check went to bills and all my check went the att bill know thay I called them and told them to shut it off and after that tjay said their will be a early termination fees and even line that's canceled thy charged. A shut off fee 1,200.00 I can't pay it please let me know some thing about the law suit with them I filed a clam but need more information on the suite thanks for any information

I caught this a few years ago spent numerous hours dealing with incompetent foreign customer service people who could barely speak English. I did not give up received my refund after weeks of fighting and threatening to and eventually contacting Federal Protection Agencies. How greedy are these companies, charging $500-$700 for cell phones on top of coverage and then cramming bills on top of it all. I should be reimbursed for pain and suffering at least. It was horrible going thru it.

Let me know if I deserve a refund

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

The charges are supposed to go back to 2005 not 2009.

im mad about this. My bill was supposed to be lower by a certain percentage due to my employer its still on the average over 160.00 a month how dose this happen no more at&t.

Wow, and I have been using ATT since 2000, I just change because the charges was too much, the signal is great but the charges kill you....

Dunny, I have been with AT&T for years and they started out great. Each month my bill had additions when I called to find out they removed the charges. Oh I am sorry which was what they said but if I did not call I can imagine what was charged and did not catch. I wanted to upgrade at one point and I was told I had to pay off my balance before I could upgrade. They added some more charges and extended a story why the bill was higher. I aske dto speak to a Supervisor and they wanted to keep me as a customer and removed the charges. Always another story. Some of the agents I spoke to were very sincere in removing the charges but WOW.

I thought some of the agents were sincere, heregoes another scheme American Greed throught AT&T

A lot of the agents are through third party companies. I should know, I used to work for one. They pulled in anyone who would apply. The Training course over Wireless was lacking to say the least. The primary drive was on AT&T Home Services: U-Verse, High Speed Internet, Home Phone.

AT&T Technical and Customer service ex-representative for Convergys. Maintain honesty, accuracy and fairness to customer. Worked account like an accountant. I was fired because I would not go with taking money for services not rendered, and that is not in MyCSP.

It states FCC,to receive 80.00 million of the settlement to paid

i worked for at&t for 20 years, the best advise i can give is look at you bill every month. They hire and fire 3rd party companies ( they make money for at&t ) but are not monitored . I should know my last job with at7t was to crake doen on these agents , and i did maybe that is why they laid me off after over 20 years.

Let's talk about facts! Communication companies pay third party providers to service their accounts. Many of them pay their employees a little more than minimum wage, and poor training (Notice- I cant refer to one particular company to protect myself). In most cases you will be told different things each time you call, and most of which is little more than a lie. They train you to lie literally, and give little to no credit at all to customers. Its sad, and completely unethical to say the least. Some of these providers can't even protect your personal information if someone calls pretending to be you with your social security numbers even with a passcode on the account. Charges are insanely high even with prepaid cellular phones offering the same services for less than half what you paying. What keep them in business is the shinny new phones that everyone has to have, and not willing to pay up front for. So when you do the numbers on a $700 dollar phone for two years, you will have paid for it almost 4 times over during that contract. So the share holders are sitting on the beach laughing their butts off while you pay for something that you will get over in a few months. They provide you little to no adequate customer service unless you have a business contract. I'm only saying that because I was forced to take a temporary position for one of these third party providers, and it wasn't good! NEVER EVER STORE YOUR PERSONAL BANK CARD ON FILE & NEVER GIVE IT OUT OVER THE PHONE TO A REPRESENTATIVE IF YOU CAN HELP IT! Also put a note on your account that all new transactions must be made at a local authorized dealer with photo id by account holder. That way you can cut out some of the drama, and just maybe go with a prepaid account that have unlimited text talk and data for half of what you paying now. I said I would never do a contract again, and wish I had followed my own advice. However, I got caught up in that "had to have it now" mode. These phones are not worth the hell we are paying for them! If you can afford it, then fine. But most people that complain about their bill are not wealthy or rich! It's honest hardworking middle class people who often pay attention to the fluctuations in their bill unfortunately. Not to say the rich or the wealthy are not hardworking. They are just less likely to worry about minor fluctuations.

Same here. First my bill is 100 next Month is 150 than 200. And they say is the charges for the u verse..my contract plan says 100 a month..what the hell is going on

Is there any was a we may have help being removed from an atnt contract in the case of this monstrosity and moral obsurdity ?

Technically by charging when it is not due doesn't this make them in the wrong in the sense that a contract works BOTH ways?

The hardship atnt has brought to my family is pverhwleming and neccisary when dealing with something as important as having a mobile connection. I cannot seem to get anyone on the phone who can give me the time of day to help me but rather keep explaining that I am wrong I am wrong.

It seems to be a safe bet that you were not affected by this "moral absurdity". Look at your recent cell bills and see if you have any 3rd party charges. It is not hard to do. If you have an issue with the charges on your cell phone- call 611 on that cell phone.

Common sense, please take your opinions else where. We get it, you weren't affected by atnt. And you're probably even paid to come on here and make everyone look stupid or feel like their argument is invalid. Stop putting your business where it doesn't belong.

AT&T did nothing wrong, but you have lawyers at work again chasing a payoff. This is another lawsuit going after a major corporation with $$$. AT&T was simply one of the carriers (similar lawsuits are also pending for Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint). Why not go after the fraudulent companies that created the charges?? Chasing children with cell phones to attach these SMS and MMS mobile message services. Too late, they already skipped town with their winnings. AT&T is only settling to avoid the endless litigation costs. If the article was titled "Jokester or CrazyRingtones Forced to Refund their Fraudulent Charges" nobody would read it.

So, are you complaining about the FTC? This a major settlement.

This man is for some reason fighting for atnt and trying to make you all feel Luke atnt didn't just loose $105 MILLION dollars for no reason. Common sense, please obtain thought that is well thought out and a lot less common and stop trolling. Thank you.

Common Sense is not fighting for anything. Charges are not hidden I'd they are explained on the bill, and they are. The bill tells you who booked AT&T the charge on YOUR users line because YOUR user did not read the details of the service they were training. These law suits are because Americans these to accept responsibility for them self or their users or for not reading their bills. Place blame instead of accept it. Your data plan is monitored and you get text messages when you get close to the limit in order to avoid overages.

It happened to me as well. Tried to stay on top of my bill that fluctuated monthly! I had to be on top of my monthly billing for over 3 years and monitoring charges with me calling into Customer Service monthly and then a follow-up to the monthly call, very time consuming. I look forward to whatever reimbursement(s) anyone of us receives, it holds AT&T accountable for its fraudulent business decisions. If it were anyone of us who owned a company who conducted business in this same manner, we'd be sued or loose our company! I've been a client of AT&T's for my cellular service, Uverse and internet since 1996! AT&T -- right this wrong and send forth an apology to all AT&T customers.

I can say as everyone else, I have been charged over many charges that I never approved for. MY FAN account number was taken off without me being notice until I took a look at my bill and my Bill was getting higher. Never did I tale a look at my bill until not that long ago. Please I call out for a refund for unwanted third party messages.thank you

I've been with AT&T since the mid 90's, with the same number, and still with them today. Looking forward to a BIG FAT CHECK.

Requesting Refund

To get a refund, you must visit ftc.gov/att and click "apply for a refund."

How do I get a refund?

The deadline for filing for a refund was May 1, 2015.

AT&T ripped my purse to pieces

I was also told by that company that purchasing data was a must for the phone to work properly. Is this true? When they continued to charge extra $15 for data usage (even though I turned off the data on my phone)I requested to have it removed but they refused to. I was told to kill the apps but I don't have many apps. I cannot see anyone but wealthy people affording their services. That company was a pain, I would get a headache everytime I had to contact them. Those bills are literally a nightmare. I would get scared when viewing my bill, that is insane. Might as well deal with a prepaid phone service. Life is too short to stress over a costly phone bill. I am sorry I dealt with that company, honestly. I was doing ok financially until I signed up with them. Before dealing with extreme phone bills I was caught up with all my bills. My bills were paid on time, now I am behind with everything. Great cellphone signal for economic hardship. It is not worth it. If it was not for my business and son I would not own a cell phone.

Sprint cellular refuses to explain or refund me for over $270+ dollars of "data" charges covering a span of 4-to-5 months. I have simple phones and do not do any browsing, email, premium texting, or any other thing I can think of. I have talked to them til I am blue in the face but no changes. I am not some Joe blow customer! I am a retired Sprint employee who has been loyal, maintaining a Sprint cellular account over 18 years! I not only will quit using thier service but will now be a dedicated Sprint basher,telling everyone I can not to use them! I consider what they did to me to be "cramming" and may officially report it to both the FCC and FTC if not resolved by 11/3/14!

You can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/complaint. Watch this video to learn more about how to file a complaint with the FTC and why it matters.

does this also work for PREPAID PHONES????

I had this happen, plus in the last year AT&T has taken money out of my bank account twice with absolutely no authorization of any kind from me. I had to have my bank block them. They also insisted that I give them my phone (Samsung Galaxy S4) which was in absolute perfect condition and that I take a S5 for FREE. I asked 10 times in this transaction if the phone was absolutely FREE in every way, and the representative as well as the store manager said "yes" every time. When my bill came it had a charge for $650.00 which was for the new "free phone". I have had all of these issues and many more, especially over the last year. Yes AT&T is committing all sorts of fraud against it's customers and only paying a few fines, which are way less then the money they have stolen. I have filed multiple complaints with the Attorney General's office as well as other agencies, but they do not seem to care because there are not enough people complaining. AT&T customers need to step up in masses and file complaints so these agencies do not have a choice but to take action.

I am also having problems with att,but with my internet service/bill.First they charge me for a mordem i thought was free of charge.It was the second one in the many yrs. i was with them.Now i got a wireless mordem and i was now paying seven something a month for the regular mordem which they said is eighty somthing,payn on that bout 2 yrs.now.
my internet service was only 29.00 went up to 50 something and when i asked y they said i must haved ordered some other service with them.I now have a bill that is almost doubled and i believe they are slowing down my service also.Everytime i call for any reason they want to MAKE me change to U-VERSE.They are Not nice folks.Hope someone checks the internet services also.

I've been with AT&T for over 7 years, and I've never had an issue with anything! My bill is the exact same every month. Any time I've ever had to deal with anyone at AT&T they have always been helpful and attentive.

How much & when?

Be aware that AT&T "crams" landline telephones from other telephone companies by way of this third party billing.

I am a CenturyLink customer and AT&T fraudulently billed me for direct calls I made from my landline to another landline that is serviced by an old AT&T name called Ameritech. All of my local and long distance service is with CenturyLink.

Hello my name is Ashley Boxx and I want to file a complaint with AT&T became they have been over charging me for years for large amounts of money. I am very disturb right now because I have been through a lot this year and I want to leave AT&T all together because they have been fraudulently over billing me twice in one month. For example one bill month I have two charges from them one for 48.00 dollars and another for 364.46. I never though this company would do such an evil thing to me. And this happened many times so what should I do. I also want to know if I can get out of my ATT acc due to fraud I want to go with another company. I am deeply hurt by this company actions and want nothing to do with them.

Can you tel me how you find out the status of my online application?? I filed it on Oct 8th and haven't heard a word since?

Hi, Dee,

The FTC is accepting refund applications until May 2015, and we will need time to process them after they have all been collected. You shouldn't expect a refund before July 2015. If you have any questions, you can all the administrator at 1-877-819-9692.

Is it now too late to file a claim for refund from AT&T?

The deadline for filing was May 1, 2015.

I am surprised at all these comments. I have been with AT&T for 12 years. My bill has had extra charges on it, but I've never had a problem with them fixing it. Any time there was a charge that I didn't think was valid, they would credit my account. There would be data charges that were probably there because of one of us accidentally pushing a button that would try to connect to the Internet and we would get charged. I would call, the rep would check and see that we didn't actually use the Internet, and would take the charge off. I've kept AT&T all this time because of the fact that their customer service reps are so helpful. I have called them many many times but I can only remember ONE time I got a rep that wasn't helpful at all. I told him nevermind and I hung up, called right back, and got another rep that was able to help me.

Att services ppl are rude and full of liars. I was with att for couple of years, and I wanted to switch to Tmobile when my contract ended with att. I asked the att ppl when should I switch so I can both get my fone unlocked and would not have to pay another bill from att. They said that I could switch 1 day after my contract officially ended so I could get my fone unlocked and only had to pay for that 1 day service ( since my contract ended). However, now I am calling them again for the entire month charging for that 1 day service. The customer service representative said that I will have to pay for the entire month according to my contract ( which ended already) and they say If I dont do that, they will report my credit to the agencies. Att ppl are liars, all they care about is how much money they can suck out of their customers. Sincerely, Mr. confused

most ppl don't check their bill, they believe in the greater power of trust and the fact that they believe they are doing business with a legitimate company, they believe they are not going to be taken advantage of, in at&t's case, they have over 300,000,000 that is 300 million customes, all they have to do is steal, cheat and charge $1.00 to everyone and the 35% that request their money back, (you a good example) they just give it back and get to keep the other 65%, 65% of 300 million is: 195,000,000.00 195 million dollars, they get a fine of 100 million IF THEY GET CAUGHT it still leaves them with 95,000,000.00, in the trolling case, take that amount by 10 times over. its easy and PROFITABLE for them to steal, cheat and be dishonest.

I'm too pissed my bill got up to $772 bcuz of overages, which is bull. I got the phones turned off and switched to TMobile. A few weeks later I got a letter in the mail saying the "ending" bill is $1,005. AT&T is stupid!

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