Close to 2.7 million AT&T customers started to receive refunds on Thursday that will total $88 million. These refunds stem from an AT&T and regulators’ settlement during 2014 and are intended to repay clients who had be charged improperly for unwanted items that had been added to their monthly bills.
The FTC or Federal Trade Commission is in charge of overseeing all refunds to the AT&T customers that had charges that were third party added to their monthly statements without giving their consent.
The refund of $88 million is the biggest ever for any mobile cramming case, said FTC officials. Close to 2.5 million current customers of AT&T, will be given a credit on their monthly statement, over the next 75 days.
Over 300,000 of the former customers are receiving checks through the mail. The average refund will be $31 and the first checks were sent out in the mail on Thursday.
A large number of complaints were received by AT&T related to the mobile cramming before the FTC as well as other state and federal agencies stepped in on the behalf of the customer.
AT&T had been accused of putting unauthorized charges by third parties on customers monthly bills for the telephone, often the charges were just $9.99, for ringtone or subscriptions for love tips.
AT&T and the FTC kept 35% of all charges it collects.
This settlement involved the following: the FTC, FCC or Federal Communications Commission and each of the 50 attorneys general.
The refunds will be paid from a settlement of $105 million that AT&T has paid to officials at the FTC back in October of 2014.
Of the $105 million, $20 million will go to the state governments and a penalty payment of $5 million to the Treasury.
In the past five years, enforcement actions have been taken by the FCC against carriers in over 30 cases. The investigations involved cramming as well as unauthorized carrier switches.
The refunds will continue to arrive in homes of customer over the upcoming 75 days.
The cramming scheme can involve charges such a for horoscope messages, wallpaper and is not something unique to just AT&T.
Over the past few years, the FCC has reached settlements that are similar to this one with three of the major mobile carriers – T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon – over the same practice.
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