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The Federal Trade Commission is sending refund checks totaling nearly $5 million to people who lost money to a cramming scheme that added charges to their home phone bills without their permission.

The refunds stem from money the FTC collected from a group of defendants who admitted that they violated a 1999 FTC settlement order that prohibited them from unauthorized billing. For years, the defendants, Billing Services Group (BSG), operated as a phone billing aggregator, passing charges from third parties to telephone companies so that those charges could be placed on consumers’ landline telephone bills. The defendants admitted that they did not vet the charges before processing them and did not investigate consumer complaints about unauthorized charges.

Explore Data with the FTC: Learn more about FTC refunds to consumersThe FTC will be sending 86,752 checks averaging about $56 each. People who receive checks should deposit or cash them within 90 days, as indicated on the check. Recipients who have questions about their checks can call the refund administrator, Epiq, at 800-591-4238. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. The FTC will never demand money, make threats, tell you to transfer money, or promise you a prize. You can learn more about consumer topics and report scams, fraud, and bad business practices online at Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get consumer alerts, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources. 

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