Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content

Chances are that you or someone you know will be among 2.7 million AT&T Mobility customers who will be getting a refund soon. The FTC is returning a total of $88 million to people who were billed for premium text message services they didn’t authorize. But even if the settlement doesn’t directly benefit you as a consumer, it offers insights for business people about the steps the FTC takes to get refunds back to consumers – and the seriousness with which we approach that stewardship role.

The FTC settlement was part of a joint action with the FCC and Attorneys General from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to crack down on mobile cramming. The FTC alleged that third parties placed unauthorized charges for trivia, horoscopes, celebrity tidbits, etc., on the phone bills of AT&T customers with AT&T pocketing a sizeable chunk of the take – 35% or more. A portion of the $105 million was paid in the form of penalties to the states and the FCC. The remaining funds – initially, $80 million – were earmarked for a consumer refund program administered by the FTC.

But a program of that size isn’t just a matter of cutting a quick check. There are required procedures to make sure the money is returned to eligible consumers.

Step #1: The FTC hired a refund administrator to manage the complicated logistics. During the 6-month period in which consumers could file refund applications, we received more than 5 million claims from AT&T customers. (Some people submitted more than one claim.)

Next, the refund administrator went over every single claim to make sure it was valid. The process was painstaking, but it was essential for maintaining the integrity of the refund program.

Then came the complicated calculation of how the funds should be distributed. Some good news was that the FTC was able to add more money to the initial $80 million amount through assets recovered in related law enforcement actions against Tatto and Acquinity, third parties that added charges to consumers’ AT&T bills.

In addition, the court required that an independent auditor review each step of the process – another important double-check to make sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed. Once the auditor approved the final plan, the refund administrator prepared and printed checks and letters.

What’s next?  Current AT&T customers should see a credit on their bill within 75 days. Former AT&T customers will receive a check, the first round of which were mailed today. If you get a check, be sure to cash it within 60 days. (By the way, the FTC never requires people to pay money or turn over their account information to cash refund checks.)

Questions? Call the refund administrator at 1-877-819-9692 or visit ftc.gov/att.

 

70 Comments


It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

M Brown
January 26, 2017
Don't remember hearing about this ? Have been ATT/Cingular/ATT, Started with them in the early 90's [phone number deleted] +2 other numbers
Phayboune xaym…
December 08, 2016
I'm filled complain about 2 years a go I don't see anything about refund
gatina50
December 08, 2016
$31? really? That's ridiculous! Must be more, almost $8,000 MINIMAL and by these means; officially I am requesting a report in details, of the money paid by ATT to you versus the numbers of customers, that will be refunded, due this fraud of ATT, and the detailed breakdown of quantities of millions paid by ATT. Also, I want to know the interest earned by you, while drawing the calculations in the last two years. Thanks in advance!
Larie f
March 20, 2017

In reply to by gatina50

ditto that's 3 months ............
Dewey
September 23, 2017

In reply to by gatina50

Wow!! a got a check for $1.54 today..... Now where can I invest it?
Valentina Watkins
December 09, 2016
Am I one of the people to receive a refund?
Darlene Woodend
December 12, 2016

In reply to by Valentina Watkins

Am I one of the AT&T customers to receive a refund? I have been a customer for over 5 yrs' ? I believe that I have been overcharged on many occasions looking back on my phone bills.
Thiis zacarias g
December 09, 2016
Atat took me 2000 dollar they have to giveme back my money
A. Tins
December 09, 2016
Only $31 dollars? Have been with AT&T since the 80s when they were called Cellular One. How many Months/Years has this $9.99/month bogus charge involve and why only $31 dollar refund?
G.Bennett
December 10, 2016
$31 is such a slap in our faces. I too have only been a Cingular, Bell South, Att customer from the beginning of cell phones. Never had but (1) cell number all my time. I'm sure I'm owed thousands! With all the wrong doing by these cell companies they still prosper! Names on sports arena's, sponsoring bowl games, never shutting down one of their businesses. The only hurt is in the consumers wallet/purse. It's all a huge scam regardless who cuts these checks.
Akeila Pressley
December 11, 2016
31$ they were cutting off my phone and my daughter's phone TWICE A MONTH we were paying three times more than the actual bill should of been and I lost my number that I had for years I would like all of my money back at&t is full of bull
Dave Lesher 71…
December 12, 2016
$31.00 that's crazy all the money we pay att an getting screw over again every month we get a bill I always say well here's air screwing for the month
Alice Ramey
December 13, 2016
Sir my bill with att was 2330.00 and they recives all the the house phone and my hot spot.please call me at [personal information deleted]. Thank You
Melton strauss
December 15, 2016
I will like a brackdown how the money was spite up 2.7 million ÷ 80,000,000.00 is not 31 at&t rob us know who going to rob us the FTC 20 30 million so please give us the consumer what we got coming what about pain in suffering warred a b out or phone get turn off my bill was over 200 one month im on disability it hard for me with my hold check 848 so att took 234 so i had 600 for a month i was homeless in still is please pay me what i have coming Melton Strauss 01/02/1969
Michael Uwa
December 16, 2016
I am one of the people to receive all the refund I will like all my money back in bull of full, in steal plead to pay me.2.7million
Ken Byrd
December 16, 2016
What kind of fool refund administrator ask the fox for records guarding the hen house? Now they want approval to guard even more hen houses with the merger. Same old ATT that was busted up, and sadly no government watch dog. Regardless of how you voted you have to grant this is rediculus.
Kimberly C.
December 16, 2016
I use to have at&t and i havent gotten a claim form yet it. How can i get my form to fill out
Mary Arcara
December 16, 2016
Was a customer with AT&T for 4 yrs. I don't know if I qualify. Mary Arcara
Stacy R.Tucker
December 17, 2016
I was with AT &T for over 10 years with 5 lines. I stopped with them after a bogus charge in 2013. I had proof from them that I did not owe, then they sent it to collection co. I sent proof/copies of AT&T Bill with $0 balance to collection co. And They dismissed and wouldn't touch it. I always questioned these "charges" but could never get a clear answer. How do I get in on this claim? I am SURE..they owe me something.
Diana Milburn
December 20, 2016
I have gotten emails and mail that had me fill out the paper work. I did that. Yesterday I got a letter telling me I have already received,my refund. I have not seen it. I called the number on the letter and the told me to call customer service,for AT&T. did that and they find no record of it in my files. I have checked in the past were we were at on the web site given, and talked to to someone about it. They told me my name was on the list. I am totaly confused do or do I not get a refund? If not why did I have to fill out all the paper work?
Debbie Baskeyfield
December 21, 2016
$31.00's!!!! Are you kidding me!! Seriously Trade Commission & Federal Communication Commission!!! They get billions from illegally billing us and that's what we get back?? Another sad excuse of how our system really protects the consumer. Slap in the face for us by allowing AT&T to NOT reimburse the amount they stole. Is there even a customer of theirs that possibly was just owed a refund of $31.00's??? Very disappointing and disheartening.
Thomas Smith
December 28, 2016
what about business telephone bills? I have to fight with them every month. Every month they overcharge me and/or add some crap to my bill that I have never even heard of. Sometimes it takes hours to get everything in shape to pay my correct bill, sometimes they tell me that I have to call another number to cancel something that I've never heard of, then it all starts over next month! I know I'm not the only one! They probably steal enough in one month to pay all these settlements with. They tell me I'm under a contract with them, even though I've never signed anything. They tell me that the contract gives me discounts, but they keep charging me way more than the contract (the contract that I have never seen)is supposed to charge me. Can nothing be done to stop these con games from AT&T? This settlement only speeded them up on their illegal schemes. Does anybody care anymore? Are we all at their mercy?
Gwendolyn Porter
January 08, 2017
Why should my refund be added back to my phone bill, not my fault there were Charges on my phone. Seems like to me I'm not getting A Refund. Not Right at All!!
michelle Parrish
January 11, 2017
I had AT&T for only about a year and got screwed from day one, we had three phones with our service and our bill was not supposed to be any higher then $150.00 that's a laugh more like $260.00 to $420.00 a month and the service kept getting interrupted and kept getting additional fees every time we made a complaint. I even called the main number and didn't realize i was talking to the CEO of the company he helped out for one month my bill was only $160.00 and was told that's what it should be from that point big laugh. So $31 is a joke for anyone regardless of time and service. Just saying !!!!!!
Ciani Hall
January 14, 2017
I wonder if we can form a class action lawsuit or some other kind of lawsuit. Now that there is established evidence of false business practices. I wonder if we can after them for personal damages.
KF1974
November 28, 2017

In reply to by Ciani Hall

A class action lawsuit is what I was thinking too! If a thief tried to rob a bank and got caught...they would be prosecuted and probably go to jail. AT&T blatantly lies, scams, and rob their customers, and gets slapped with a $105 million penalty. Yet, the 2.7 million AT&T customers only got $88 million to split...which equates to about $32 per customer...WHAT A JOKE! AT&T ex-customers getting screwed again!!
Steve Bonar
January 16, 2017
After all this time 31 dollars????? VERY VERY SAD, Just another act of CRIME to our people, And AT&T, now has partners in crime, I can only hope everyone involved in this bigger scam WITH AT&T has to answer to SOMEONE?
L
January 17, 2017
I was lied to when my husband was alive and told that my internet was a certain price 19.95 then the ole bait and switch happened so what about that?
Kathleen Hurt
January 21, 2017
I received a letter from the FTC stating my refund was 'denied' because AT&T had already refunded my money. I called the FTC told them no refund was ever received and they told me they were unable to verify the refunds sent out by AT&T to customers, I was also told by two of their supervisors that the FTC represented AT&T not the consumer - Albeit, The Federal Regulation says different. It seems we have additional fraud to overcome. I will move forward with this as long as it takes,. . . . Perhaps the Justice Dept. can provide more answers.
Christy
January 24, 2017
THIS IS WRONG! NOW SOMEONE NEEDS TO OVERSEE THE FTC BECAUSE APPARENTLY YOU ARE NOT LOOKING OUT FOR THE CONSUMER!! THIS TOOK YEARS AND OF ALL THE PEOPLE YOU SETTLE FOR A MEASLY 31.00 ? I HAVE PROOF THAT ATT PERSONALLY OWES ME 2300.00! I HAVE BEEN A CUSTOMER FOR YEARS! MAYBE OUR NEW PRESIDENT NEEDS TO BE IN ON THIS ! SO TIRED OF PEOPLE GETTING THE SHORT END OF THE STICK! RIP OFFS!
Kita
January 25, 2017
I want all my money back and a breakdown of how much they took and my over charges. 31$ dollars that's not right I work hard and all I get back is 31 dollars. I want a breakdown im the mail
Korinne
February 10, 2017
I've been a customer of AT&T for about eighteen years now and I'm just finding out about this settlement. No one ever contacted me.
Gisele Banks
February 10, 2017
Still waiting for a refund check. It's been about a year and a half sense I sent the papers in. Let me know what's going on.
KASL
February 14, 2017
My records from 2009 through 2014 alone indicates cramming on AT&T's part with a double $9.99 charge. Mathematically it does not add up to $31.00. I received a $15.00 refund on my latest bill for February. By the way it took one year and 11 months to receive this .AT&T is full of excuses and their personnel don't have a clue as to what to tell a customer. I have called AT&T 7 times over the past year and a half only to receive different answers, ranging from the checks in the mail; the check will be sent next month; call back if you don't receive the check in 2 weeks; you will receive a credit on you bill in 75 days. Which do I believe? The way I see it AT&T owes in excess of $1,000.00 for bogus charges for 6 or more years.
Deborah Mccoy
February 15, 2017
Am I one who is getting a refund? I have been with AT&T for over 16 years.
Jeannie
February 21, 2017
I only received $17.82...I have been a customer since about 1995! I think I am owed more.
Debbie
March 07, 2017
I also received a letter from the refund administrator stating refund has been denied because AT&T indicates refund has already been received. I called AT&T and they stated a refund has not been applied to my account. Called FTC back and there is nothing they can do since AT&T indicates refund. Called AT&T back and received conflicting information. 1) refund was applied to account between 2009/2014 for this incidence but couldn't tell me the amount or specific date (can only see acts back to 2015!) How convenient! 2) refund was in amount of $19.99 but can't provide date refund was applied to account or if check was sent! How can I receive a refund in 2009/2014 when refunds weren't submitted until December 2016. If AT&T can tell me the amount of refund why can't they tell me the date? I agree with the others that this is another form of fraud and AT&T has no intention of paying these refunds. $31 is a joke. I've been a customer since 1977 but it's time to dump these crooks and go to another carrier.
Lisa V.
March 07, 2017
just got my refund check for $22.44 I expected more at least in the hundreds since I was with Cingular/AT&T for over 10 years. I finally had to switch to a new carrier last year because of the ridiculous amount I was paying monthly. I do not want to cash the check because I believe AT&T should compensate me for more. How do I contest the amount received?
Carrie D
March 08, 2017
I deposited my measly $9.99 today. I'm glad I've since switched carriers. They're nothing but frauds.
Ronda H
March 11, 2017
I received a check for $36.08, deposited in my checking account, and today received a notice from the bank that the amount was removed from my account and I was charged $10 by the bank. There is no explanation except stamped on a copy of the check is "Return Reason: Refer to Maker". We switched from AT&T to another carrier late last year. Not sure why the check was returned.
lfair
March 16, 2017

In reply to by Ronda H

Hi, Ronda H.  I'm sorry you experienced that problem.  If you call the Refund Administrator in this case -- the toll-free number is 1-877-819-9692 -- they may be able to be of assistance. 

Toff
March 14, 2017
Wow! 40 dollar check and I was charged close to 100 . Where is the rest??? FTC ?? Who has the rest of my money?
Susan James-Iwamoto
March 17, 2017
No record of my Business account with FTC and no refund from ATT! How will they hold ATT Accountable?????
Laurie F
March 20, 2017
What a joke for those of us who have been customers for 20+ years
tracy
April 02, 2017
1st have no refund and not why is my bill showing not $40 for visual email can't change it says page no long available to change or view plan?
Jacquelyn Reppond
April 15, 2017
Can I check on line for my refund amount? I have my e-claim number.
Chris
April 23, 2017
I RECEIVED TWO DIFFERENT CHECKS BOTH LESS THAN $31.00 from Attm settlement. Are these safe to cash?
Beth
April 23, 2017
All the wireless providers are thieves just who get got . I knew nothing about it and have 2 tablets and 6 phones and have had service with them since they started out as cingular . I get nothing back because i knew nothing of it. I have seen that from others so wrong.
Karri
April 26, 2017
I have several accounts/phone numbers. Received several checks. Is there anyway of knowing which check represent which number?
John Feiler
April 27, 2017
How do I check on the status of my claim? I have the confirmation number, but I can't find any place to check the status.

Get Business Blog updates