November 26, 2013
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today reminded AT&T customers that a deadline to seek a refund of unauthorized third-party charges is approaching. Consumers have until December 2, 2013 to apply for a refund of cramming charges on their AT&T landline telephone bills since 2005.
Refunds are available through the Nwabueze et al. v. AT&T et al. class action settlement by filing a claim at www.attthirdpartybillingsettlement.com. AT&T included bill inserts containing the Notice of Settlement to eligible customers earlier this month. Customers also have until December 2 to ask for a billing summary showing all third party charges incurred since 2005, which can be returned to the claims administrator after the customer marks any unauthorized charges.
Cramming is the practice of third party content providers placing unauthorized or misleading charges on customer phone bills. Crammers often obtain consumer information through sweepstakes, drawings, free offers or trials, or other incentivized marketing schemes that lure consumers to submit their names, addresses, phone numbers, and birth dates. This information is then often used to enroll consumers in third-party products or services billed through the consumer's telephone bill without their knowledge or consent. More recently, spam text messages to cell phones or links to advertisements in cell-phone applications are used to enroll consumers in alerts such as celebrity gossip, love tips, and horoscopes for recurring monthly fees.
Last week, Koster announced a settlement with V&T Communications, doing business as Odyssey Communication Services, resolving a civil lawsuit arguing that the company charged some Missouri consumers $14.95 per month for a commercial-free streaming internet radio service consumers did not consent to purchase. Under the settlement, the company will pay $7,729.15 in refunds to non-AT&T customers in Missouri who were charged for Odyssey Streaming Radio without their consent.
"Today's phone bills often include numerous pages of numbers and charges, and it can be difficult to discern legitimate from illegitimate charges," said Koster. "Our office will seek to protect consumers from companies that take advantage of them with unauthorized charges."
Koster encouraged consumers to check their monthly phone bills for any suspicious charges. Consumers should contact their carrier if they detect unauthorized charges. Consumers can also request to block third-party charges to prevent cramming from occurring.
If you suspect cramming, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or online to file a complaint.