AT&T Mobility, one of the nation’s largest mobile phone companies, now has to pay $105 million in penalties and refunds for unlawfully billing the cell phone accounts of its customers. $80 million will go to the Federal Trade Commission to refund customers who were billed hundreds of millions of dollars, often without consent or even knowledge.
That’s not all. AT&T will also pay $20 million to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, plus another $5 million to the Federal Communications Commission for its shady role in the scam known as mobile cramming.
Instead of acting to end the charges, AT&T continued to make millions of dollars from these illegal practices while taking at least a 35 percent commission. It also refused to provide refunds to many customers, FTC Chair Edith Ramirez said.
AT&T said it finally stopped billing for these third party charges in December 2013.
On the record, AT&T earned $108 million for these charges in 2012. In 2013, that figure skyrocketed to $161 million. In 2011, in case you wondered, AT&T received 1.3 million calls about the charges.
Now, AT&T will be required to notify customers who were smacked with the unauthorized charges about its settlement with the government and its refund portion.
You can put in your refund claim at www.ftc.gov/att or call (877) 819-9692.