Ongoing efforts by the FTC and its colleagues at the federal and state levels to curb the bundling of wireless charges have resulted in a settlement agreement with AT&T for a colossal sum of $ 105 million – the settlement largest to date with a prominent mobile phone service provider. Even better news for affected AT&T customers? They may be eligible for a refund.
According to the FTC, AT&T Mobility, LLC. it allegedly charged consumers’ mobile phone bills for third-party subscriptions or services that they had never requested or authorized. Many consumers were unaware that they had been paying – up to $ 9.99 per month – for seemingly occasional horoscope text messages, love advice, celebrity gossip, wallpapers or ringtones that appeared on their phones.
And how were customers supposed to know that they were being charged? According to the FTC, AT&T didn’t make it easy. The lawsuit alleges that the phone bills AT&T sent to consumers were misleading because the company grouped all the charges together to make it appear that everything was related to AT & T’s mobile phone services. So when a consumer read the total balance owed, it was difficult for them to spot hidden charges. Those charges even went unnoticed by those consumers who regularly checked their phone bills line by line every month.
So what is the bottom line for AT&T customers affected by the deal?
- From now on, AT&T will take steps to obtain your consent before billing you for third-party charges.
- If you contact AT&T about billing for unauthorized third-party charges, the company will issue you a refund unless it can demonstrate that it has information indicating that you have consented to that charge.
- AT&T will continue to offer consumers the option to block all third-party charges. Aside from AT&T, there are other phone service providers that also offer a free lockout service for third-party charges. Check with your phone company about the services available to block these charges.
Consumers can find more information about the claim filing and reimbursement process at www.ftc.gov/en/att . Not sure if you qualify for a refund? For more information, contact the FTC contractor handling these refunds by calling 1-877-819-9692. And remember, the FTC never asks consumers to pay or provide financial information to receive a refund check.