AT&T forks over $105M to settle federal cramming probe


If you were ever an AT&T customer that found yourself paying for SMS horoscope or celebrity gossip subscriptions you didn’t want, you might have some money coming your way. In a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and 51 states Attorneys General, AT&T has agreed to pay the government $105 million, $80 million of which will be returned to AT&T customers as refunds.

The practice is called cramming, and in the mobile carriers’ case it involves premium SMS, a dinosaur left over from the pre-smartphone age used to delivered content to consumers’ phones through text messages. Considering most people can get horoscope and celebrity news free on their mobile browsers, many premium SMS providers have evolved from content providers into scammers, tricking consumers into signing up for their subscriptions and fraudulently placing charges on their bills. According to the FTC, the typical charge is…

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