Earlier this week, the FTC started sending out checks to victims of a cramming scam by which unauthorized phone charges were added to the mobile bills of AT&T customers. Cramming is the name for adding unauthorized third party charges to a consumer’s telephone bill without the knowledge or approval of the consumer. This has long been a problem with landline phones and recently has become a major problem with cellular service. There are many ways that these unauthorized charges make their way to a victim’s phone. Sometimes consumers unknowingly sign up for premium texting services for things such as flirting tips, horoscopes or celebrity gossip when entering a contest or lottery. Whatever the source of the charges, they are fraudulent and typically cost about $9.99 per month and continue to appear for months without end. This particular cramming scheme was operated by two companies Tatto and Acquinity working with AT&T to have the fraudulent charges added to the mobile phone bills of AT&T customers. Under the terms of its agreements with the two companies, AT&T kept 35% of the charges. The settlement of the FTC’s complaint against AT&T, Tatto and Acquinity is resulting in more than 88 million dollars being refunded to present and former AT&T customers who were victimized by this particular cramming scam.
Present AT&T customers who were victimized by this scam will receive a credit on their mobile phone bill that will show up within the next 75 days. Former AT&T customers victimized by this scam will be receiving checks from the FTC. The first round of checks were sent two days ago. For more information, go to the “FTC Scam Refunds” tab at the top of this page.
Even if you are not an AT&T customer this case is another reminder that you should carefully review your phone bill each month to make sure that there are no unauthorized charges. Telephone bills can be long and complicated to read, but is important to make sure that you understand every charge that appears on your bill because sometimes crammers make the charges appear to be legitimate. If you find a charge for a service you did not order, contact your phone service provider to have the charges removed.