FTC sends $88 million in mobile cramming refunds
Today, the FTC is returning more than $88 million to AT&T customers who were charged by other companies for “premium text message services.” These charges appeared on AT&T phone bills even though the customers hadn’t agreed to the charges — that’s according to the FTC, the Federal Communications Commission, all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In fact, many people weren’t even aware they had been paying — up to $9.99 per month — for services like ringtones, wallpapers, and text message subscriptions.
When a company adds charges to your phone bill without your consent, it’s called cramming. The FTC’s settlement with AT&T represents the most money ever returned in a cramming case. More than 2.7 million people will get refunds — that’s more than in any case administered by the FTC to date.
So, how does $88 million make its way from the FTC to you? Here are some of the highlights:
- First, the FTC hired a refund administrator to manage the process.
- Over the next 6 months, we accepted more than 5 million claims from AT&T customers. (Some people submitted more than one claim.)
- As required by the court, the refund administrator made sure that each claim was valid and calculated how best to distribute the funds.
- The FTC also added money recovered in two related FTC cases, Tatto and Acquinity, against companies that added charges to people’s phone bills.
- The court required that an independent auditor review each step of the process. Once the auditor approved the final plan, the refund administrator prepared, printed, and mailed checks and letters.
Here’s what’s next:
- Current AT&T customers will get a credit on their bill within the next 75 days.
- Former AT&T customers will receive a check. The first round of checks was mailed today.
If you have questions about your refund, you can reach the refund administrator at 1-877-819-9692.