Company acknowledges improper billing; will pay $105M
Connecticut will receive just more than $268,200 as part of a broader $105 million global settlement reached with telecommunications giant AT&T Mobility, LLC.
The settlement, announced earlier this month by state Attorney General George Jepsen and state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein, resolves claims that AT&T Mobility engaged in “data cramming,” or tacking charges onto customers’ bills without their permission or knowledge.
Connecticut, the 49 other states and the District of Columbia are all part of the settlement with AT&T Mobility. In all, the company agreed to pay $105 million to pay participating states as well as provide refunds to affected customers, state officials said.
The states, along with the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communication Commission, claim that AT&T billed consumers for premium text-message subscription services when they had not signed up for or agreed to them. The charges typically were $9.99 a month, according to Jepsen’s office, and often were for services provided by a third party, such as daily horoscopes, trivia and sports updates.
The $105 million settlement includes $20 million in payments to the states, of which Connecticut is getting $268,252. The company also agreed to make an $80 million payment to the Federal Trade Commission to fund a claims-based restitution program the FTC will administer, and will pay $5 million to the U.S. Treasury on behalf of the Federal Communications Commission.
Under the agreement, AT&T will notify all affected consumers who were charged for premium text-message subscriptions to let them know how they can seek refunds.
Consumers who think they have been billed incorrectly because of data cramming can submit claims online at ftc.gov/att. The claims process will be open until May 1, 2015, Jepsen said.
As part of the settlement, AT&T is required to bill for third-party charges only if the charges have been authorized by customers, as well as to improve the way such charges are shown on customer’s cell phone bills.