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Consumers Hungry for Refunds in AT&T Cramming Settlement

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A record $105 million cramming settlement involving AT&T Mobility has piqued the interest of hundreds of thousands of Americans. A whopping 359,000 individuals have submitted claims to the Federal Trade Commission requesting refunds for unauthorized charges on their cell phone bills, an FTC official told TIME Magazine Wednesday.

Under the settlement announced earlier this month by federal regulators, AT&T has agreed to earmark $80 million for distributions to current and former customers who were charged for third-party services they did not authorize.

The response to AT&T’s settlement from consumers is one of the largest the FTC has ever observed, the FTC’s director of consumer protection, Jessica Rich, told TIME. Consumers can submit a claim if they were an AT&T Mobility customer after Jan. 1, 2009, and claims must be submitted by May 1, 2015, according to a settlement website.

The enforcement action against AT&T represents a collaboration between the Federal Communications Commission, FTC and 51 attorneys general. It ranks as the largest enforcement action and biggest cramming settlement in the FCC’s history, the agency’s chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters during an Oct. 8 press conference.

The government alleged AT&T charged customers without their authorization for such monthly subscriptions as ringtones, wallpaper and text messages, which provided such information as horoscopes, flirting tips and celebrity gossip. The typical charge for the services was $9.99 per month, the FCC said.


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