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

Oh and if you clicked on that nice little *free text* and are using your phones browser, you are being charged for the data (or at least are using data if you have a data plan). See how nice that works out for Cingu... I mean Att wireless?

My issues have been plenty. Never the same price, mysterious charges, etc. Att even changed my data plane on numerous occasions and when I threatened to bring it to my lawyers attention, the corrected the issue and sent me a text with the complaint and resolution.

Need more info

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

I have been a loyal customer to at&t for many years. I know for certain I have been over charged for third party charges; just didn't know what they actually meant. I would like to know more about the refund.

If you think you have been charged for services you didn't approve, visit ftc.gov/att to apply for a refund. Yoiu have until May 1, 2015 to apply.

I know I have been overcharged. At least when we were in South Africa in July 2013. And also without using data exchange limits we had to pay double the monthly pay. Most irritating is that you never can talk to a live person at ATT. They have just voice mailers who kicks you easy or makes you wait forever on the phone.

What were you charged double for? AT&T doesn't charge double just because you are in South Africa. If it was for usage, did you get an international plan? Probably not.....During CS hours you can ALWAYS talk to someone.

I have been a loyal customer since they were called Cingular.I have had 3rd party charges in the past that the customer representative would remove, I know I didn't catch all of them but I will say that customer service has always been very very good at AT&T but this new plan they have, I do not like it and I want out. I used to be so content with my services until this new Wireless program came about. I will be applying for the refund, as I'm sure it happened to me because back in 2009 I probably didn't Know I was getting a third party charges, now I check every month.
Also as for misspelled words and punctuation, I am guilty of that as I use voice to text and it doesn't always understand me.

I have been a customer since 2001. I feel just the opposite. I FINALLY feel like they are doing their best to give good customer service. Plus they are doing the data rollover service.

I have been a loyal customer for over 20 years and as I can, i'm buying out my contract. I called AT&T before I upgraded my iPhone 5 to a 6 and they promised me, and put it in writing that they would not raise my plan and if it did raise to call an they will adjust it. Well I called and NOPE! They argued and explained the value plan was gone once I updated, even though when I called the rep promised to keep at same price as old plan. I never would of bought the new phone if it raised. I talked to like 50 people and they were rude and talked down to me and kept explaining the plan like I was slow! And the rep who promised me this was going to be "reprimanded". To me this was an out and out deceptive move on AT&T's part. Like I said as soon as I can I'm outta here. Never, ever had a problem until now.

Your PLAN didn't go up. if you upgraded on a 2 yr. contract, the smartphone access charge is what went up. If you had gotten on the NEXT plan, your smart phone access would have stayed the same. READ the terms and conditions BEFORE you accept them!

Yes at&t been charnging me extra money i didnt owe. They r rude on the phone. Definitly moving to othe phone company

Good, go!

No you and Michele B. need to go. Your comments to everyday folks on here are rude at best. Why do you feel so obligated to spend so much time on here fighting for AT&T? Reminder THEY HAVE JUST BEEN SUCCESSFULLY SUED FOR BILKING THE PUBLIC OUT OF A TON OF CASH. Seriously - what is your true calling here? WE CAN'T BREATHE!

God I wish people can learn the facts before opening there traps!! They settle because it's cheaper to pay that money then to fight with high lawyers fees!! Intop of it all, these charges were never added by AT&T but third party companies that may have lie about people actually signing up not AT&T, if you going bash someone or something be fair! Secound I can assure you that most actually sign up and they had buyers remorse and then they want someone to give them there money they don't care who.. Perfect example are that people buy computers and then sign up for Internet and then they get virus and hey blame the ISP!!! (But it wasn't there before I got internet) God there are so many stupid people in this world!!

I recently moved about 15 miles from where I was living. I have very poor service in that area. I called AT&T several times about this problem. They advised me that I need to purchase extra equipment from them, just to receive the service I am already paying for every month. Why should I have to pay extra to receive the services I am already paying for and should be receiving? That makes no sense at all to me! I am very strongly thinking about dropping AT&T and moving to another company.

Did you check the coverage BEFORE you moved there?? I bet you want AT&T to just throw up a tower in your back yard.

I have that problem to then; they discovered a tree was the problem, but now my service is better now, and they need to work not over charging people.

I've been with At&t for 8yrs never understood what all those extra charges were for always had a high bill every month plz help Me to get back some of my money I deserve thanks

AT&T started charging me for overages all the freaking time. Even though I was constantly connected to wifi and had turned all background notification services off. Somehow in a 30min period I went from almost zero usage of data, to over using my data. Despite not even being on my device, and my device being connected to wifi the whole time. When I called to complain the company couldn't explain what happened but said the usage was valid.Changed to TMobile. Much less bullshit. The coverage may be a bit spottier, but the customer service is great and I'm much happier with my bill!

This cr@p wouldn't be an issue if they (all service providers that I know of) hadn't killed the unlimited data plan. I feel like I can't leave AT&T because no one has unlimited data plans now, not even ISPs, and I call that BS.

Yup,it's BS because you actually have to pay for something. It's costs the company money to provide that data. They should give it to you for free??? THIS "crap" has nothing to do with data. Go find somewhere else to complain.

When will refund be sent, following application for refund?

My college-aged daughter just got a new iPhone 6, was eligible for an upgrade, but was tricked into signing up for the "AT&T Next Plan" when she ordered her phone online. She was eligible to get a 64GB iPhone 6 for $299 with a 2-year plan, but AT&T did not give her that option and she mistakenly signed up for $37.45 per month for 20 months, which comes to $749! Called AT&T and they said that you only have 14 days to change your mind about a phone/plan, but we did not even receive the iPhone until 3 weeks later, so already too late to change mind! Asked AT&T why would anyone agree to pay $749 for a phone they could have gotten for $299 and they said that many people choose that option so they could finance it over time/rent the phone. That amounts to a 250% interest rate! These people are thieves and their customer service reps & their supervisors are trained to help AT&T rob their customers.

Customer of AT&T for several years. We've been paying for overage charges for quite a while. Made several calls to AT&T on our landline phone & talked for hours with them & they said there was nothing wrong on their end. Even went to a local AT&T store. They said the charges were valid. Both home and work are wired for wifi. As soon as the contract is up, leaving this crappy company.

I have been with AT&T for long time since they call Cingular,and until now still charging me a lot,I wish one day,they realize wat they did to customer

Will there be any ramifications from ATT for those who submit for a refund? Since our account informaiton is disclosed in the above applicaiton and ATT will receive and process refunds to those who may have been impacted, they know which customer requested the refund. My worry is that ATT may "flag' accounts and do intermittened things like poor signal, slow data , pushing unwanted ota's ,etc. How do we know something retailitory wont happen?

The settlement amount has already been determined. AT&T agreed to pay $105 million to settle these charges. 

Seriously, I have a family plan of 2. Me and my sister. For over 1-3years my sister's phone been charge for massive over data usage. When At&t had the 3G family plan in 2010, her phone were always the most data usage. I used to think it was her, but I recently got charged last month for going over 3G for an extra of $20-30. Our last month data plan was 10G. My phone data usage was 3G and hers was over 8G. So I recently switched this month to 30G and just now I checked and her went over 20G while mine remained 3G. Am I being ripped???

I have complained for over a year about be overcharged on data usage . Ever time I call at&t tells me yes I went over and would not refund me the overage . At one pilot I had to cut the day off my son's phone because overage on two phones was very costly.at&t tells customers to up there dad plain to keep from going over . When you up your data you still go over . For the past two months I have not when over on my data .

Do you still have to be an ATT customer?

No, former AT&T customers also are eligible for refunds. You just need your AT&T phone number or billing account number.

I been with AT&T since 1992. I would like someone to let me know about this refund. I have 5 phones with yall now.. Please message me

What I want to know is if anyone else is having the problem of having to use mobile data to download a text message with a picture or that was sent to multiple users? I am so tired of that. I am on my home wifi when this happens. I am so aggravated about this. Why charge for a data plan when we can use wifi at home and most businesses have it as well? I have seen other times when ATT has been been involved in a class action suit. When will they get the bold hint that people are tired of the lies?

Yes I have the same problem. It is only when I have my background data off which is 90% of the time. I don't want to be charged overages because of push notifications so that is what we have to do. My husband and daughter don't seem to have that problem though. Maybe its my phone, I have a samsung galaxy. It os very annoying but it's better than paying all the overages from apps running when you didn't want them to.

same problem here. Its bull!

Yes I have been going back and forth with AT&T because they have done the same thing with our phone. I had it down to $110 and it is back to $150. I told them they had one more month and I was paying to close my account out and I was finished with them after 10 years. I am tired of their double talk, thinking I don't know what their doing and I didn't appreciate being lied to.

If you all would turn your cellular data OFF in the settings on your device, then you wouldn't have these issues when you are connected to Wi-Fi. If the AT&T signal is stronger than the Wi-Fi signal, guess what's going to happen if you don't turn off the cellular data? Please, read the owner's manual that comes with the products you order.

We have been with AT&T since 2002. While they have very good coverage, we have experienced problems since 2005. To the people that say, "its clearly on your bill and your just too lazy to read" they have obviously have never read an AT&T bill. it is listed as an AT&T charge and implies it's just some sort of data fee they charge for. They started doing that to us in 2005 and I have had to call several times to get it stopped. They first time they refunded the charges, after that they said we are only allowed so many refunds on an account so they wouldn't do anymore. Also, they added several things that I did not agree to when we added a new phone line for our son. I did not notice it for 5 months because my sister had been in a bad accident shortly after and spent a month in ICU and several more in rehabilitation and physical therapy ( I was focused on taking care of her) while I know that is not AT&T fault, when I did call she was very rude and said "didn't you notice your bill went up"?! Yes I did, but we had just added a line and I thought it was just higher than I had expected it to be. She then told me she would cancel all the charges but could not refund any even though she had nothing that showed I agreed to them. So how can they charge you without your permission and then refuse to refund? People shouldn't have to watch their bill like a hawk worried they will be screwed over. I don't have this problem with ANY other company we deal with. Our bill is higher every month and we also get the run around when I've called. The only reason we have stayed is because we are under contract and its the best coverage in the rural town we live in.

Also, the text they send to tell you that you are near your limit is bull. We get that text and I immediately turn everyone s data off. Still, we get a charge on our bill. When I called they told me that there can be a delay in the text being sent out so if someone is using data when it hits 90%, the text might not get to me for several minutes and we can go over in the meantim . When I checked our usage 1 week in to our billing cycle it said my daughter had used 10GB already. How is that possible if she is at school all day and they have to leave phones in their licker turned off? Between school, chores, homework and school activities she doesn't have that much time. When I looked it up online it showed the biggest hits were at 3-6 AM and several times during school hours when her phone is in her locker. She actual got in trouble because I thought she was sneaking and using her phone at school. I found out I was wrong.

This is all a bunch of bull$#!? Everything I read about AT&T and this case is not true and I can't believe AT&T actually lost the case. I have been with AT&T for over 20 years with as many as ten lines and never once has there customer service refunded EVERYTHING that I had a problem with. And all those charges are NOT hidden on their bill and all those customers DID use those services. But even so, AT&T would STILL refund ALL of those charges when ever they were asked to, not most of the time, ALWAYS. Basically, astop using your cell phones. Oh, what, you can't do that? Well then, STOP COMPLAINING.

Andrew, I can't tell you whether or not AT&T will refund all that is owed to me, however, I can tell you that two of our five lines were crammed for a total of over $1,400. One if the lines that had charges on it was my wife's. It was a $9.99 charge for over a year. The other was one of my son's. I can understand him purchasing something by accident but not really my wife. Especially when it was a $9.99 per month ring tone. The other was a something called Fly Cell 21. That service was out of Phoenix and if I find myself in Phoenix I will surely go to their offices. I'll admit that I didn't look at the bill every month and as time goes by, you get used to seeing the same amount of the bill and you pay it. Or in our case, my wife does the bills so she'd pay it. It wasn't until one day I saw that we had been paying over $70 a month for charges we didn't ask for and we had been paying for over 14 months. That's as far as AT&T could go back. They said it was from a third party and that they couldn't prove or disprove if we requested the services. They said that they just bill for them. I quote your first sentence..."This is a bunch of bull$#!?" You couldn't have said it better. I'm still with AT&T because we had something similar happen with Verizon many years ago so I just think they're all crooks and I, the consumer, needs to be more diligent in checking my bills, however, if they owe me a dollar...I want it! The airlines are next!

I been with attached since 2012 with 2 teens....where's my refund??

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

I'm sure this has already been addressed in previous posts, but I don't have 2 hours to read through them... I have no reason to save my phone bills, so how do I find out how much I've been over-charged?

You don't need to know the amound you were charged for third-party services. You only need your AT&T phone number or billing account number. Visit ftc.gov/att to apply.

Just recieved the info to connect to the lidigation and refund process. I had this happen a few times a couple years back. There were data charges on my phone. I DO NOT HAVE A SMART PHONE. So when I called they had no answers. Glad this has been exposed and a stop has hopefully been put to this ridiculousness.

my bill went from $150.00 to $ over $200.00 dollars.Ive been with att&t from 1980

FROM 150 TO OVER 200 MONTH

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