The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced in a Press Release that victims of AT&T, Tatto, and Acquinity bill cramming would be receiving either a credit on their next bill or a refund check soon. Your BBB® wrote about the FTC’s settlement with AT&T back in October 2014, and we have been following the story ever since.
According to the terms of the settlement, AT&T agreed to pay $105 million of which $5 million went to the FTC, $20 million went to the 50 states and Washington, DC to cover costs of the investigation. The remaining $80 million will go to customers who filed a claim for a refund or credit. An additional $8 million comes from a settlement withTatto and Acquinity, the two companies that actually imposed the charges.
The Press Release states that the refunds represent the most money ever returned to consumers in a mobile cramming case. According to the FTC blog post regarding the refunds “more than 2.7 million people will get refunds—that’s more than in any case administered by the FTC to date. The average refund amount is $31.”
According to the FTC complaint filed in federal court, the case involved AT&T billing customers for hundreds of millions of dollars in charges for third-party companies usually in amounts of $9.99 per month. The charges were for unauthorized subscriptions for services such as ringtones, wallpapers, and text messages containing love tips, horoscopes, celebrity gossip, and fun facts. In addition, the complaint alleged that AT&T made it difficult for customers to see that they were being overcharged by describing the charges as AT&T Monthly Subscriptions.
FCC Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel said, “Cramming is modern day pickpocketing. These bogus charges on consumer bills are unfair — and they can add up fast. That’s why these settlements are so important. They give consumers the right to block these fees going forward and get their money back for payments they made in the past.”
Epiq Systems, the refund administrator hired by the FTC to administer the refund program, began mailing refund checks and applying credits to AT&T phone bills on Dec. 8, 2016. The checks must be cashed within 60 days or they will become void.
If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the FTC or Epiq Systems telling you that you must pay money or provide account information to claim your refund, it is a scam. If you have questions about the refund process, you may call the FTC redress hotline at 877.819.9692.
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