Some Iowans eligible for cellphone refund in settlement - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Some Iowans eligible for cellphone refund in settlement

Posted: Updated:

About 200,000 Iowans who used AT&T for their wireless service are now eligible for a refund in a 'Mobile Cramming' settlement.

AT&T Mobility LLC has agreed to pay $80 million to consumers across the country, and stop a practice where unauthorized charges were added to customer's phone bills. The company is accused of placing these unauthorized charges, usually from third-party services, on customers' bills. This is commonly known as 'mobile cramming.' Often, these charges would show up as premium texting services, or 'PSMS' subscriptions. They could also be disguised as something else, like 'data usage.'

The total settlement is for $105 million, including a penalty payout of $20 million to state attorney generals, and $258,654 for the Iowa Consumer Education and Litigation Fund & consumer restitution. Five million dollars will also be paid to the Federal Communications Commission.

"This will do a lot to resolve a widespread, frustrating fraud problem that Iowans have complained about for years," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said. "Third-party companies exploited a sneaky, back-door way onto AT&T's wireless phone bills, and the company took a cut of it. We're pleased that we have resolved this with AT&T and look forward to reaching more settlements with other carriers," Miller added. "What's most important is that we have put a stop to a persistent and unfair billing practice, and Iowans will rightly receive refunds."

AT&T is the first cellphone provider to settle these allegations. Other major carriers are facing similar accusations, including Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. All announced they would stop billing PSMS charges.

The settlement came with other stipulations, according the the Attorney General:

  • AT&T must obtain consumers' express consent before billing consumers for third-party charges, and must ensure that consumers are only charged for services if the consumer has been informed of all material terms and conditions of their payment.
  • AT&T must provide a full refund or credit to consumers who are billed for unauthorized third-party charges at any time after this settlement.
  • AT&T must inform its customers when the consumers sign up for services that their mobile phone can be used to pay for third-party charges, and must inform consumers of how those third-party charges can be blocked if the consumer doesn't want to use their phone as a payment method for third-party products.
  • AT&T must present third-party charges in a dedicated section of consumers' mobile phone bills, must clearly distinguish them from AT&T's charges, and must include in that same section information about the consumers' ability to block third-party charges.

Consumers cant submit claims here. If you're not sure if you're eligible, call 1-877-819-9692. Claims can be filed until May 1, 2015.

Powered by Frankly