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

(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 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


I have had third party billing in the past for several months.

Where on the bill did you find this, Donald A Smith?

I was with ATT, for about 14 years. I switched to T-Mobile, a couple of months ago, With ATT, I was getting very high data overages, when I had done nothing, differently. This went on, for a period of 3-4 months. I called 4 times, and they were very rude. The only thing they would tell me was, "It doesn't show us where the charges are coming from, but it shows they're valid." Really? How does that work? I was charged for 2 GB, of data, while I was sleeping, for instance. Had I'd gone over my data allowance, I would've paid. I knew I hadn't, however. My last 2 bills were over $400 dollars. I didn't pay, either,based on principle. I wonder, if there is anything I can do, since I am no longer a ATT customer. I know, I was overcharged, within the 14 years, I had their service.

I've had this same issue for over a year!!! I'm always connected to wi-fi so I wasn't understanding. I was told by AT&t to watch my use during every call and others blamed my modem. I had to bring my plan to the 10g plan because it was less expensive. I wonder f this is a separate issue. This angers me!

Yep, had the same thing happen here. I kept being charged for data I KNOW I didn't use, to the tune of 120 bucks in just one billing cycle! I caught the customer service rep off guard. They stopped their happy-go-lucky smiley BS, stammered, and told me that my phone should be taken to a service center. This company is rolling in the dough from their FRAUDULENT practices and laughing all the way to the bank. If this were a more just world, this suit should BURY them for good.

I've had $85 overage this month. When I called to speak with them, they acknowledged it was not reasonable. They "tried" to give me a $25 refund, but thecomputer wouldn't "Let" them. ???
We're paying abt $50-$75 in overage every month and they KNOW it's wrong, but can't explain anything. I HATE contracts. My acct has 7 lines, 5 of them Smartphones. Even when I turn ALL lines Data off, Gigs still sucking my bank acct dry. 7 Contracts/Ugh...

This has been happening to me as well. Their solution is to turn off your mobile data completely EXCEPT for when you need it. Why is this a problem all of a sudden? I should be able to leave my mobile data on and when I am in wifi spots (90% of the time) that should kick in. The past several months has led to a problem and I now have to constantly go to setting to turn mobile on and off. Its bullshite quite honestly and they have no answer as to why and the only solution is a major inconvenience.

that happened to my son and we finally figured out there was an issue with the Facebook app. He had to delete it and re download and the overage stopped. Try it

Excellent reply from Lump2899, as it's often apps unknowingly running in the background.

For iPhone, double click the home button and it will display all apps running in the background -- often and surprisingly it will be dozens. Scroll through and upwardly swipe the unused apps and they will fully close. I had one iPhone consuming 800MB per day due to garbage apps running in background. Just because you exit/close them after use/interaction does not mean they close entirely.

Routinely do the double click to display and close those you aren't currently using.

You can also go into settings and disable data access for specific apps. Most game apps and many others that run locally have no need for Internet connectivity. Block them.

You can also install Kill Task App. I use it every time I leave an app especially games. Many of them do not have a quit option or if they do they are hidden, candy crush, so when I finish I use the Kill Task app to close everything. Those apps that must continue for operating system stays but anything else close.


Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

Read Our Privacy Act Statement

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.