AT&T to cough up $88M for ‘cramming’ mobile customer bills

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Nick Barber

Some 2.7 million AT&T customers will share $88 million in compensation for having had unauthorized third-party charges added to their mobile bills, the Federal Trade Commission announced this morning.

The latest shot in the federal government’s years-long battle against such abuses, these refunds will represent the most money ever recouped by victims of what is known as “mobile cramming,” according to the FTC.

From an FTC press release:

Through the FTC’s refund program, nearly 2.5 million current AT&T customers will receive a credit on their bill within the next 75 days, and more than 300,000 former customers will receive a check. The average refund amount is $31. ...

According to the FTC’s complaint, AT&T placed unauthorized third-party charges on its customers’ phone bills, usually in amounts of $9.99 per month, for ringtones and text message subscriptions containing love tips, horoscopes, and “fun facts.” The FTC alleged that AT&T kept at least 35 percent of the charges it imposed on its customers.

The matter with AT&T was originally made public in 2014 and also involved two companies that actually applied the unauthorized charges, Tatto and Acquinity.

Also in 2014, the FTC released a report in which it detailed measures carries could take to prevent unauthorized charges from appearing on customer bills.

In today’s announcement, the FTC warned consumers who may be expecting refunds to be alert for fraudsters trying to take advantage of the situation, noting that the FTC never requires payment or account information to get a refund check.

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