AT&T agrees to pay $105 million to settle claims of unauthorized third-party charges

AT&T has agreed to pay a total of $105 million to settle claims that the wireless carrier "billed customers millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party subscriptions and premium text messaging services."

The settlement was jointly announced by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. In their statement, the FCC said it was the largest enforcement action in their history. The agency said they started investigating AT&T after receiving complaints from customers that the carrier had billed them for things like "ringtones, wallpaper, and text messages providing horoscopes, flirting tips, celebrity gossip, and other information" that they did not purchase.

The FCC said that when customers complained about the charges, AT&T would only offer a credit of just one or two months worth of the bills, or sometimes not offer any kind of refund. Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, says:

We now know that wireless companies profited while their customers were fleeced by unscrupulous third parties who added millions of dollars in unauthorized charges to consumer phone bills. Today's historic settlement holds AT&T responsible for its billing practices and puts money directly back into the pockets of consumers.

Under the terms of the settlement, AT&T will pay $80 million back to its customers in refunds, and will pay an additional $20 million in penalties and fees to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The FCC itself will get $5 million from AT&T as well. What do you think of this settlement and will it help stop these kinds of billing practices?

Source: FCC

John Callaham
  • Dang att
  • So how much money am I getting back?
  • $3.45. Don't spend it all in one place!
  • I wouldn't be able to spend that in one place lol
  • No, no its 34.5 cents. They'll keep the half cent to recur some of their cost.☺
  • I should probably return that 50¢ watch I got from the bubble machine then. So disappointed...
  • I hate AT&T so much. The only reason I stay with them is for windows phone. Now that Verizon has a phone I want, I'm switching.
  • Verizon don't get updated till a year after everyone else got it. ATT is the best. Stick around
  • You sure about that?  I've been hearing Verizon hasn't updated any of their phones for Cyan or 8.1.  (I think i read this on Reddit), then folks went on to say this isn't a WP thing, they have the same problem with Android.  Add to this, the fact that they are WAY behind in their pricing and i'm just not sure they are worth the jump.  And I'm definately NOT saying the other US carriers are any better...hell, i really don't know what to do at this point.  I love that T-Mobile WANTS us as customers, but do they really expect us to jump to such crappy phones?  And with ATT, i just feel like i need a shower after dealing with them for so many years.
  • All carriers are part of this, not just at&t. With that, I think it is kind of BS. People signed up for subscriptions and are now mad about it. I don't really understand the problem here.
  • No, not everyone signed up. I personally have randomly gotten these charges on my bill. A shady third party company can just charge random phone numbers. AT&T (and others) require no verification that the consumer actually consents to these charges. I've always called AT&T immediately and gotten them reversed.
  • Tmobile got nailed for this earlier this year. Only a matter of time Verizon and sprint get hit as well.
  • The thing is they didn't sign up. It happened to me, and I'm not some old lady that "accidentally" signs up for something. I know if I ever sign up for anything.
  • If you're switching to Verizon, be prepared to wait 9 to 12 months for firmware and OS updates. Unless of course you're not going for a Lumia, then you can get OS updates via the DP program.
  • Ok....
  • How do I get my money!!!
  • I'm a victim of this. When I added my daughter's line, somehow AT&T mobile TV was activated without knowledge and I had to call several times (even after removing the app) over the course a several months to get it discontinued. No refund was offered at all. That's why the first thing I do is uninstall any AT&T apps off my lines.
  • That happened to me when I first got AT&T how do I get my refund?
  • I hope I get some of that
  • This happens all time, and not only in US
  • It happens here in Asia all the time. At least in the U.S. something happens when you complain to the government.
  • Serves them right for selling customer databases and profiting from crappy subscriptions and what not. Hopefully all carriers learn their lesson to avoid that and show we can rely on them to keep our information secure and private from the menace of third party subscriptions.
  • LMAO all these people getting free money FCC and states... Hahaha they must love that. Fees and penalties are a scam but whatever.
  • That's great, and I agree with this and get it. But the part that bothers me is paying upwards of 20-25% of the penalty costs to entities that were not directl effected by ATT's bullshit charges. 
  • All those lawyers are not cheap unfortunately.
  • i bet they will give each customer a little credit on their service/plan, not actual money, gosh i just get full of hate every damn time i see the word "carrier"
  • I thought that was what they initially did and thus the FCC action forcing actual refunds.
  • They are still cheaper than Verizon
  • Hence their shittier service ranges and speeds.
  • Too bad that most of the folks at at AT&T that will feel the consequences of this will be the ones who had nothing to do with making the wrong decisions. Usually they decrease employees bonus or worse, layoff or the closure of some stores. Sucks that executives who made the bad decisions do not skip on their bonuses, and worse yet, if they do get in trouble they're paid millions just to leave. Hopefully no honest and good humans are let go during the holiday season.
  • $105 million seems rather low.  that is probabl how much they make or even less in a month after all these years of this practice.  mobile t.v, text services, messaging services, calendar, horoscope features.  all these for years have been added to lines for millions of users.    I handle my companies cell phone account and when i check our reports, i see all these charges all the time and we get credited back.    My dad had been getting charged for years and it wasn't until i brought him onto my account wghen i found out.    Check your bills!
  • That is the key, check you bills. Kids subscribe to stuff without parent knowledge.
  • I wonder how many of them have auto pay. Never auto pay with phone, internet, or cable companies
  • The words carrier loyalty are meaningless
  • Sounds good to me......
  • Despicable. Now if fines like this could be levied in the UK...
  • Douchebags.
  • At&t is being forced to pay a penalty for billing third party services! This makes no sense. At&t receives a small fee for providing the billing service for all of these third party subscriptions or fees. Perhaps they could do a better job of screening the companies for which they provide the billing service. I love my At&t service compared to the other carriers. People think that the grass is greener if they go to another carrier but they will be unhappily surprised.
  • I'm on T-mobile, and the grass looks more dead than mine looking at your side..
  • Youre delusional.  As we go into data consuming people, you'll get charged with overages.  the internet on your mobile phone is gold mine.  Youre paying overages, while we [tmobile users] have it for unlimited. it just doesnt make sense having your data capped.
  • +925
  • Yay, can't wait for the $4 check in gonna get! These settlements never benefit the consumer who got screwed.
  • Yeah they never really do much good. Bank of America had a settlement of millions of dollars for overdraft fees. I got charged over $300 for going over on my account by $6 and they wouldn't do anything about it. Then I get a check in the mail after the settlement for $5.60. That definitely made up for it.
  • Good hit them where it hurts. Their pockets.
  • That's probably pocket change for them :/
  • $5 million for the FCC? Seems a bit much...
  • att is screwing everyone.  even capped data is bullshit.  it should be unlimited.  they used to offer unlimited back in the early 2000, but they saw this as a gold mine, so they capped everyone.   Tmobile on the other hand has kept their unlimited data for 30 dollars. i could survive without text and call, because i can skype, viber, kik, or facebook people easily with data.
  • That, and the scum refuses to upgrade cellular infrastructure to make internet speeds faster. Verizon also.
  • Hehehe... Sounds like McDonald's is about to get a bonus from the dollar menu... Hehehe.. That is not alot of money when you think about how many customers AT&T has and how much that is divided among everybody.... They will make that back in a month or two. Customers will get maybe at most $4 if $5. And the dolls menu at McDonalds is what help them survived for so long. Well played government which still screwing everybody over.
  • At&t...smh
  • Good those assholes put up a fight she that zombie runner charged me a $1 every month. And I tipped wpc and no one replied.
  • I just want to know how much money I'll be getting back and how long before they start raising peoples bills to compensate for this settlement? I'm a former customer of almost ten years but haven't been with them for about four years now. I've already revived two checks after class action settlements from them.
  • Ok now lets go for Comcast for stealing customers money
  • The FCC is ran by an ex-employee of Comcast. So that is a no win situation there considering they recruited from Comcast. The start of a monopoly... Hehehe... And funny... At&t + dish + universe... Lol.... The numbers are the funniest thing when you look at it all. At&t has the largest network of of customers because they have, phones ( home, business and mobile), dish subscribers, DSL, universe cable network. So that is pocket change. They will get the money back in about 2 months or so. The ones that are getting the most of the money is the FCC, states and government and D.C. which D.C. is getting the more because FCC alone is part of the government in D.C. Hummmm... Oh how the government is screwing everybody over and the numbers don't lie to much withose figures... Just breaks it down... Maybe cortana can tell us how customers is with ATT bad then do the math for the refund... Just saying... Then it might be getting taxed also... Again the government has their hands in that cookie jar... It doesn't end... Just a sad story all the way around...