The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said on Thursday it’s started to refund former and current AT&T customers a total of $88 million. The payout is part of a 2014 settlement of a case in which the carrier was accused of wrongfully charging for third-party mobile services.
Known as “cramming,” many customers hadn’t even been aware they were paying for additional services, which in this case included items such as “ringtones and text message subscriptions containing love tips, horoscopes, and ‘fun facts.'” The unauthorized charges that AT&T placed on its customers’ bills were often in amounts of $9.99 per month, with the FTC alleging that the carrier received up to 35 percent of the fees.
But those expecting a share of the refund shouldn’t get too excited. The average payout amounts to just $31. About 2.5 million current AT&T customers will see a credit on their bill in the next 75 days, while 300,000 former customers will receive a check.
“AT&T received a high volume of complaints related to mobile cramming prior to the FTC and other federal and state agencies stepping in on consumers’ behalf,” FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement. “I am pleased that consumers are now being refunded their money and that AT&T has changed its mobile billing practices.”
The FTC said the AT&T refunds “represent the most money ever returned to consumers in a mobile cramming case.”
Indeed, the commission has been dealing with all the major carriers in recent years for adding unauthorized charges to customers’ bills, with each one ordered to pay back huge sums of money.
AT&T customers lined up for a refund should already have been notified of their eligibility by the carrier. If you any have questions regarding the matter, you can call the FTC’s consumer hotline at 1-877-819-9692.