AT&T ‘cramming’ settlement affects 460,000 Hoosiers

An estimated 460,000 Hoosiers will receive refunds from AT&T Mobility for unauthorized charges the company placed on cell phone bills as part of a $105 million nationwide settlement.

The allegations for “mobile cramming” arose after customers complained about charges – usually for $9.99 per month – for “premium” text messages that involved horoscopes, trivia, and sports scores.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined attorneys general from the 49 other states and the District of Columbia, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to reach a settlement with AT&T Mobility over the allegations.

AT&T Mobility is required to pay $80 million nationally to refund its affected customers. In addition, the company will pay $20 million in penalties and fees to 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a $5 million penalty to the FCC.

“My office is working with our partners to secure refunds for Indiana residents who were overcharged by AT&T for text services they did not want or agree to,” Zoeller said. “While this agreement gives AT&T customers the tools to effectively eliminate cramming for now, this is a good reminder that people should pay close attention to their bills for any questionable fees or extra charges.”

Under the settlement – the first of its kind in the nation addressing mobile cramming – the phone company will also have to ensure that customers are only charged third-party fees if they express consent and have been informed of all terms and conditions.

If the company does end up charging a customer for third-party items like the “premium text messages,” the charges must be distinguished on the phone bill. The designated section must also explain to the customer that he or she has the ability to block third-party charges.

Customers still receiving unauthorized charges from third-party providers after the settlement will be given a full refund from AT&T Mobility.

Those who believe they qualify for a refund should apply by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website.

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