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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

It is att purposely trying to charge for data overages that do not exists trust me. I have an old school flip phone with no apps but this horrible basic 1990 internet option I can select that I had literally never used. Anybody with any sense at all would see that the internet app on old school flip phones was a waste of space. Randomly after having this phone for years I had $90 data overage. I called and asked how is this possible?? I have never used the generic internet app ever?? They replied with I'm not sure sir but our data monitor says you have used well over your 3 gb plan that had automatically come with my plan as the iPhones where starting to get popular. I said there is no way!. That's impossible! They insisted I was wrong and that I indeed went over and suggested a more expensive plan. I said I need a data plan for a genric old school flip phone that I literally never ever use for internet? I argued with a manager who eventually took the charge off until 6 months later they claimed it happened again and forced my hand to go to unlimited data plan for a $10 flip phone that has this incredible out data worthless genric internet app on that nobody in the right mind would ever use or really even able to use if they wanted too. I hope att revamps themselves after this or just completely goes under as they need too.

I always have reoccurring charges to pop up on my bill thst no one can explain please contact me as sion as possible because my bill has doubled

I would like to have that amount credited to my account.

Please visit ftc/gov/att and complete the refund form.

I had to pay for a line that I don't even have a phone for because the phone that I had broke and since I was on my contract I had to pay for a new phone and new line. Which I think is bull that we have to do that.. when other provider don't have contracts... Know my spouse phone broke and we can't get another one until our contract is up or other wise we have to do the same like I had to do,,,

All I can say is that AT&T owes me $104,900,000.00 in extra charges that are fraudulent. Hope to get my check soon. I hope you all get your refunds soon.
Sincerely
Pappy

Just got off the phone with AT&T because after carefully reviewing my bill this month, since it was higher then usual, I realized they had removed my 2g data plan FOR NO REASON! I never changed my data plan. Now all of the sudden I have no data plan and I am being charged as a "pay as you use" plan, where its $2.00 per MB. I am used to paying $25.00/month for 2gs. My plan has been that way for about the past 4-5 years. I never authorized them to make this change and I pay with auto pay every month (I get my bill electronically also so it makes it easier for ATT&T to conceal these actions). After being on hold for over 30 minutes, getting transferred to diff. departments, and having to speak with management ...they finally credited my account when they realized it was their error. They owed me over $300 for the last 4 months getting away with charging me for having basically no data plan and "pay by use". What a joke! I over paid more than $300 before realizing what was going on. Do I need to go back to a paper bill every month and spend an hour breaking down the 30+ pages of my bill?? I cancelled auto pay already and after getting off the phone with the AT&T rep they were not able to get the 2g data plan back onto my account because the lowest G plan they have now for data is 3g. They are going to contact another dept and call me back since we had already been on the phone over an hour getting my $300+ "credited" to my AT&T bill ... NOT MY BANK ACCOUNT REFUNDED!! This is FRAUD. I already dealt with the Slacker radio monthly subscription charges that were unauthorized on my bill about 2-3 years ago. Those sneaky people got away with that for a few months as well, before I demanded to be refunded. They again just "credited" my account all the money I overpaid for those 3rd party charges that were determined unauthorized by me. Ugh this is annoying. I am still dealing with them and Walmart, whom I bought my most recent smart phone through and purchased the insurance option for a fee each month, and when the phone was stolen AT&T informed me that Walmart never signed me up for the insurance and according to their records there is nothing they can do since they don't show me having insurance on my plan. They advised me to contact the Walmart store I purchased everything at, to no avail. So disappointing since I have been a loyal AT&T customer for over 10 years.

job well done

I racked up approximately 19 charges a month for directory assistance that I did not make. I called 6 times over the course of a few months and each time I was transferred to multiple people and had to re-explain the situation to each month. I asked to speak to a supervisor of which none was available, but promised that one would call back within the next 24 hours . . . never happened. Each time I was put on hold multiple times making me wasted up to 1-1/2 hours of my time to get charges removed. They blamed other people in my household, but there are none but my husband and I and with the Internet, we never need directory assistance, and haven't used it for 20 years. The end result is the worst customer service ever and I am an employee!

My bill went from 140 to over 200 a month, and then i was getting billed for that AT&T navigator app like ten dollars a month for something i don't even use. Since ive been with them my bill is always been high even when i had just one line. It's crazy how they can just tack on additional fees and think no one will notice. I hope they give there customers back what's due to them.

I'm customer AT&T for long time,back in the day they were Cingular,I need refund

WE HAVE BEEN WITH AT&T SINCE 2010 APROXIMATELY. SEEMS LIKE . I HAVE 6 PEOPLE ON MY FAMILY PLAN. I HAVE CALLED IN SEVERAL TIMES TO DISCUSS THESE RATES. I KNOW I HAVE HAD CHARGES ON MY BILL AND DIDNT KNOW WHAT THEY WERE. SOME PEOPLE AT ATT ARE KIND AND HELP YOU, SOMETIMES YOU GET A PERSON THATS KIND OF SNOTTY. I THINK THEY SHOULD REFUND PEOPLE SOME OF THE MONEY. FALSE CHARGES.

WHAT is the next step to apply for refund.

Please visit ftc.gov/att to apply for a refund.

I wonder what would happen to a black dude from ferguson if he was convicted of stealing a 100 million ??

I have been with At&t since forever. I have known all along I was gettting cheated. COuldn't prove it but I knew it. I took a trip to Mexico a couple of years back and when I returned my bill was huges for months afterwards. When I started to examine it, I saw where my own number was showing up on the bill as a number I called. This was beore unlimited calling mind you. I called them and they had no clue as to why this would happen, not even the IT person. They told me My cell could be still pinging from a tower in Mexico. GET REAL. that was ludicrous. they told me to power off my cell regular to stop this. SInce susposedly my Smart phone was like a mini computer. They did remove the charges, but it was crazy since then, I can talk to a rep and they will tell me with this plan or that plan, I will pay this amount each month or that amount each month. And to this day my bill has never been what they told me it would be, there is always some extra charge on it. I even asked how my cell can be streaming the internet at 3 am in the morning, and how to turn this off, lady told me there was NO way. LIES. then another person told me to stop the data in setting, I did that and still do that something on all my lines. But what pissed me off is when I go to the web site and stop data usuage on the line when it reaches 80% used. The very day the new monthly cycle comes it the system automatically resets my setting to start using the data. This is not right. If I set it to stop it needs to stay stopped unitl I go back and tell it start using again. This is a feature that benefits them only.

There are always charges on my go phone for nothing that I did. I rarely used those services but I kept getting charges and I could not understand why. When I buy $20 airtime, at least $3 would go for calls or texts I did not make. Now I see

I find it revealing that the defenders of AT&T are mostly engineers, tech types, and probably a few plants. I love the assertion that if you learn the technology and read the fine print, all will be clear. Well, all is not clear. What is clear is that smart phones are masquerading as a consumer friendly technology--especially iPhones--which the carriers adore because their complexity is hidden by the illusion of a simple interface. Sort of like an airliner, where the passengers are reassurred by seeing nothing of the the guts of the place, only anodyne panels. If most people had to understand the technology of their autos to be able to drive, we'd have far fewer drivers. They might not be such a bad thing, but that's just my opinion. There is an almost complete absence of transparency in the way these devices transmit data, and in the way that the carriers account for and bill it. That is the problem. I'm sure some consumers are lazy. And I'm equally sure some engineers are tech people are terribly smug about what amounts to a near criminal conspiracy. Consider what AT&T is charged with, and why any of us reached this page. Consider the similarity of complaints. Repeated coincidence defines statistical significance.

MY CHARGES WAS GOING TO MY FATHER FHONE HE IS 85 HE NEVER USE DATA ,HE MAKES 3 4 CALLS A MONTH AND HE BENN CHARGE 9.99 ALSO ITS BEEN MORE THEN A YEAR ,SO I HAVE TO CALL EVRY TIME TO REMOVE CHARGE ,ABOUT SUKING DATA I HAVE 7 LINES AND 4 OF THEM I PHONES AND WE ALWAYS HAVE FIGHTS ABOUT USING THE DATA ,IBEEN GETTING ON MY KIDS AND MY WIFE FOR USING ALL THE DATA ,AND THEY SWEARING TO ME THAT THEY NOT USING IT THAT MUCH,IM VERY UPSET.THIS IS BS,THATS WHY LAST MOTH THEY OFER US EXTRA 15 GB FOR FREE,I SEA THATS WHY THEY SO NICE,BUT I CANCLE THAT 15 G ANY WAY,THEY BETTER NOT OVERCHARGE ME A 1 GB ,WE NEED TO DO SOMTHING ABOUT IT

There's something with the iPhones folks. ATT won't admit it and I doubt Apple will chime in, but the iPhones are data hogs.

I've been with AT&T for so long now and I have 4 phones and a ipad and have the same problem that is why my bill is so high. please let me know if I am eligible for the refund thank you

AT&T is sending messages to customers who had third-party charges added to their bills sometime after January 2009. If you didn't authorize any third-party text message services (like ringtones and horoscopes), then you will want to file a claim at ftc.gov/att.

att was robbing me blind, was charging $ when a toll free number would dial me or when I would call a toll free number. charges run up to $200+ in a particular month, they said charges were valid. Later spoke to a manager and said those charges should have not been there and removed them from my bill, later on there where other charges which appear and this time when I called about it they said i had gone over my minutes and I had over 500 rollover minutes! their excuse was that I had used all of my rollover minutes. Afteer being with them over 20 years with them I dumped them for good. For them is all about money and filling their pockets with it no matter what tactics they use. This company those not know what honesty and ethics is all about.

Please send my refund to me.

To get a refund, you must complete the form at ftc.gov/att. Click on "apply for a refund."

Yes sometimes mystery charges appear.

need to know more about this problem

AT&T is sending messages to customers who had third-party charges added to their bills sometime after January 2009. If you didn't authorize any third-party text message services (like ringtones and horoscopes), then you will want to file a claim at ftc.gov/att.

I HAVE BEEN OVER CHARGE ON TEXING I THOUGHT IT CAME WITH THE PHONE i have been charged for calls i have not made to my phone. they need to lower my bill now. i don,t think they treat there costomers right,

12/22/14 - Just noticed my AT&T Wireless bill that was $80 per month as creeped beyond $100. Check the details and had charges for mobile insurance and Mr Rescue that I didn't add. Seems they have not learned their lesson.

I would be interested to know if I have been in this and could get reimbursed if possible if I have been.
Thank You

AT&T is sending messages to customers who had third-party charges added to their bills sometime after January 2009. If you didn't authorize any third-party text message services (like ringtones and horoscopes), then you will want to file a claim at ftc.gov/att.

First I don't know why you guys are putting comments about DATA overages on here. That has nothing to do with the "cramming" issue.

To clarify it's not AT&T fault with your DATA overages. I have AT&T and never once had an issue with overages. I use both WIFI and just DATA. I'm a heavy DATA user also.

The cause of your overages are due to the apps you have running in the background. Do you have Facebook? Then that uses DATA with all the notifications, messages you receive. Like another user states, MMS and Emails, that uses DATA. You may have downloaded an app/game that eats up your DATA. You need to check the DATA usage in your settings to see what apps are consuming all that DATA before blaming AT&T for your overages.

I have been with AT&T since before they were SBC and have always had my bill fluctuate and have talked to them about things that I didn't have and I never gave permission for them to be added but there was nothing they could do about it, but they would take it off but after a month I would have other charges and this has not stopped and I've been with them for a very long time. But I just cannot fight a corporation that big and I had to keep my phones, and I have 5 phones on my account, can you imagine how much I have had to pay that I never should have . Ricky

Concerning Data overages for folks using apple devices..If you were using an apple device the data overage is caused because apple uses cellular data only to submit information about your usage to apple headquarters. You will need to turn off that option on the apple device to remedy the problem or use an android device. Settings - General - About - Diagnostics and Usage - Diagnostics and Usage Data (set to off)

SINCE I DONT LOOK AT MY BILL, BECAUSE MY HUSBAND PAYS IT, AFTER I GOT THE EMAIL ABOUT THIS, I LOOKED AT OUR MOST RECENT BILL AS WELL AS 6 MONTHS BACK AND NOTICED THEY HAVE BEEN CHARGING ME FOR USING MINUTES WHEN I HAVE UNLIMITED. THEY ARE ALSO CHARGING ME FOR "MOBILE INSURANCE" AND "MOBILE PROTECTION PLAN" AT ANOTHER $10.00 A MONTH. REALLY? A FEW MONTHS AGO, THEY TOLD ME I DID NOT HAVE INSURANCE WHEN MY PHONE CRASHED, I LOST ALL MY CUSTOMERS CONTACTS, AND IT JUST TOOK MY PHONE RIGHT BACK TO THE BEGINNING AS IF I HAD JUST GOT IT FROM THE FACTORY. I AM SO FURIOUS RIGHT NOW. I AM SO GLAD THEY ARE GOING TO PAY FOR THEIR FRAUDULENT TACTICS. NOW, I HAVE TO SIT ON THE PHONE FOR HOURS AFTER THEY DISCONNECT ME AT LEAST 2 TIMES, AND THEN AFTER TELLING 5 DIFFERENT REPS MY STORY, I MIGHT GET LUCKY AND GET THIS RESOLVED. CONNIE

I just took all 7 lines away from ATT because of dishonest and unethical business practices. Every one of you should do the same. This company doesn't deserve you or your business. Remember this folks; they will say one thing and ways do another, yes in their favor. Good luck!!!

So how do I claim the money the owe me

AT&T is sending messages to customers who had third-party charges added to their bills sometime after January 2009. If you didn't authorize any third-party text message services (like ringtones and horoscopes), then you will want to file a claim at ftc.gov/att.

Checking to see if I'm eligible for a refund.

AT&T is sending messages to customers who had third-party charges added to their bills sometime after January 2009. If you didn't authorize any third-party text message services (like ringtones and horoscopes), then you will want to file a claim at ftc.gov/att.

Merry Christmas Terry, I would venture to say that every person on this website is also checking about a refund. So good luck, it feels good to know that we are not alone on this wonderful Christmas day!

I have the same issue. I get charged a extra $10 a month alot. I always get a text from AT&T telling me I went over my 2g. I dont understand how I go over when I dont watch movies or listen to music or do much of anything on my phone. Please help ....

I've been with at&t for a good 10 years and not once have I had a problem. And each time I did have to call customer service, I never got anyone rude. And just recently I added 2 more lines to my plan and when I had the bill come in the mail, it was $430 rather than the promised 250 with 5 lines on a 10gb plan. I called at&t right away and the nice rep I talked to credited $100 right away, and advised me that the rest of the charges were for a month in advance since I added new lines and changed my whole plan around. I was left to pay 330 which I help off on, and the day before it was due, I went to pay the bill and I had an additional $200 credit. Their customer service to me is awesome. My bill is always around 250 and I have never gone over my 10gb data. I have 5 smart phones, galaxy s4 and an s5, iPhone 5s, htc 1 and a nokia lumia, and each month out of the 10 gigs allowed, only about 5 gigs get used up.. I don't understand how others with minimal use get charged for more data or say that at&t steals it. I'm on my phone 24/7 with about 70% of the time in a wifi zone. And so is everyone else on the plan and we hardly use the 10 gigs ip.. stop blaming the carrier always.

Same here. Been with them for almost 11 years and have had NO problems!

I have experienced the same issues like other customers. Data plan not lasting to the next month. But in the past, we had the same number of phones and never went over, now it is like every month data is almost out. We are doing the same thing nothing new. And I continue to be charge for ringtones when I have requested this to be removed. No one ordered it and no one is using it so why am I being charged ---EVERY MONTH. Another way to flees and scam the customers.

I've had AT&T for over 10 years. I do look at my bill/statement before paying. If there had been an unauthorized charge, I contact AT&T and a credit was issued. Why doesn't everyone do that?

Have done so but the customer Rep will be rude, or cunning (cook up some line), and when you ask to speak with a supervisor it was obvious it was just another billing rep. Glad it worked for you, and am sure we all disputed charges.

It is amazing how many here are militantly defending AT&T saying we are unreasonable to think we can get "something for nothing" because we share our displeasure with their unethical business practices. All providers are guilty, but AT&T takes the proverbial cake. AT&T is not AT&T but rebranded SBC. AT&T wireless came to be with their acquisition of Cingular - I have over 3,000 rollover min on my 450 min per month plan from being grandfathered in. I am a current subscriber to their "Unlimited" Data plan that's not unlimited because it is throttled to the equivalent of 300 baud dialup speeds. I remain with AT&T out of sheer spite because oftheir numerous efforts to try and coerce me into giving up my "Unlimited" data with circular logic. Why would I ever give up my $50 "Unlimited until they throttle me @ 3GB" for a 1 GB plan for $50 and subject to overages? Watch them - they are extremely focused on getting us off that "Unlimited" data plan. I almost NEVER used it till two years ago when I really needed it for a few months lacking broadband access. Well, imagine my surprise being throttled and being called a "data hog" for not even using what I thought I bought without being called what is commonly considered the dirtiest, most selfish farm animal that wallows in mud and it's own waste.
The original AT&T also built their own cable TV/broadband infrastructure back sometime around 2000 - quite a bit of money if I recall - which was sold to Comcast. I believe they still offered DSL which is their only broadband offering now.
This business model of no company having exactly everything you want is suspicious. I mean really - why would Comcast not want to compete with wireless cellular in their markets? They could compete simply because their cable is already there and the need for cell towers is virtually eliminated using WIFI calling using no-frills bridged wireless AP's or giving home subscribers a bill credit to open bandwidth for that purpose, or most likely a combination of the two. Comcast can destroy wireless rivals in short time. THAT'S competition - not buying up smaller rivals with older/different infrastructure in your own industry just to gain subscribers without infrastructure investment. That's not a buildout. Maybe AT&T and Comcast have a deal to give us choice without giving us choice? Naaaa. After all - their marketing tells us they do all this for us.

I just called to discuss my bill and to get answers for the overcharged $27 I was surprised for the quick offer to credit my account.
What are they hiding?

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