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?