Big news in the cellular world! The federal government is forcing AT&T to pay out $105 million for "cramming."
Cramming is when a carrier adds unauthorized third-party charges to a mobile phone bill. These charges are usually for subscriptions and premium text-messaging services - ringtones, horoscopes, gossip, etc. - that the customer didn't ask for or realize they were signing up for. T-Mobile got in trouble a few months ago for the same thing.
I've talked about cramming before, specifically how to spot and avoid it so you don't waste money. Click here to learn more about cramming.
In AT&T's case, it started this practice back in 2009 and it kept 35% of the hundreds of millions of dollars customers paid. The Federal Trade Commission finally stepped in to put a stop to it this last year.
As a part of the settlement, AT&T will pay $25 million in penalties to the state and Federal Communications Commission. The other $80 million, however, goes to the FTC to reimburse AT&T customers.
To be eligible, you need to be a current or former AT&T customer who was charged for third-party services - without authorization - after January 1, 2009.
To get your money, you can submit a refund claim at the FTC website by May 1, 2015, or call 1-877-819-9692 for more information. Of course, even if you are eligible, the refund could take up to 9 months to arrive, so don't make any big spending plans.
Putting a stop to cramming is just one way to lower your monthly cellular bill. Here are three more ways to save big.
If you've decided to switch up your mobile data plan, learn some mistakes to avoid so you can pick the one with the best balance of data and cost.
Do you have trouble making your family's data plan last all month before running out and risking overage charges? Click here to find out the unexpected things that devour your data you can put a stop to it.
Lastly, I did a little back of the napkin calculations with this $105 million fine. In its last quarterly report, AT&T reported revenues of about$32 billion over three months this spring. At that rate, AT&T takes in $105 million in about 2 hours and 20 minutes of an 8-hour work day,