In court, today was a bad day for AT&T. In one of the largest phone cramming settlements to date, the wireless operator has been ordered to pay a total of $105 million, much of which will go back to customers who were being charged roughly $9.99 a month for things like mobile ringtones, horoscopes, and love tips.
$80 million of the settlement will be paid to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), $20 million in penalties and fees paid to 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as $5 million to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, speaking on the settlement, highlighted the ultimate point, that consumers should not be charged for things they did not authorize.
I am very pleased that this settlement will put tens of millions of dollars back in the pockets of consumers harmed by AT&T’s cramming of its mobile customers. This case underscores the important fact that basic consumer protections – including that consumers should not be billed for charges they did not authorize – are fully applicable in the mobile environment.
It was found that AT&T was profiting at least 35% of the charges it imposed on its customers through the phone cramming.
In other news, if you believe you were the victim of AT&T’s phone cramming, the FTC has set up an online refund application form which will allow you to apply to receive your money back.
The following info was taken from this online application.
AT&T Mobility, LLC, has agreed to settle allegations that it charged mobile customers without their permission for third-party services like ringtones, wallpapers, and text message subscriptions for horoscopes, flirting tips, and celebrity gossip. Current and former AT&T customers who paid for unauthorized third-party charges after January 1, 2009 may apply for refunds.