The Federal Trade Commission announced today that AT&T will pay $105 million for hiding extra charges in cellphone bills. The best part of the news? $80 million of it will go back into the pockets of people bilked by AT&T.
Earlier this year, the FTC went after T-Mobile for a similar shady business dealings, a practice called "mobile cramming." T-Mobile and AT&T have both, alleges the FTC, billed customers for hundreds of millions of dollars for third-party subscription services that sent texts of horoscopes, flirting tips, and fun facts—without the customer's authorization. And in both cases, they took a hefty cut of that $9.99 monthly fee.
The T-Mobile case is still ongoing, but AT&T has now settled. AT&T will pay $25 million in fine and fees to the FCC and states, and the remaining $80 million will go to refund AT&T customers affected by the charges. AT&T said in a statement that it stopped the practice of mobile cramming in December 2013.
AT&T is supposed to notify all current customers affected by the mobile cramming case, and the FTC will be contacting former customers. Want to know now if you deserve money back? The FTC has provided this sample AT&T bill, where the now refundable bogus charges were originally labeled as, ahem, "AT&T Monthly Subscriptions." You can apply for a refund on the FTC's website.