A national settlement has been reached with Sprint and Verizon Wireless, and Missourians may be eligible for a refund.
Missouri, along with the other 49 states and the District of Columbia, reached a settlement with the two communications companies over allegations of cramming – the practice of charging mobile customers for services they didn’t ask for, like premium text messaging (PSMS) for celebrity news, horoscopes, trivia, and sports scores. The two companies have been accused of placing unauthorized charges from third-party services on customers’ mobile telephone bills. More than $438-thousand will come to Missouri out of the $158-million total settlement.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division Spokesman Joe Bindeutel said mobile cramming has been a big problem over the last several years. Bindeutel said similar settlements were reached with AT&T and T-Mobile in 2014.
“We now have all four of the major telephone carriers under a court ordered resolution addressing this practice of cramming,” said Bindeutel. “It was a very aggressive marketing practice by these carriers, they took responsibility for it, and they’re going to pay back consumers across the country for charges that were illicitly put on their mobile phone bills.”
Bindeutel recommends consumers read phone bills carefully and regularly. Bindeutel said it’s important to understand what commitments consumers are signing up for before clicking yes.
“People were signed up for these services and they never knew it, and they had a heck of time trying to get the charges off the bills or the services stopped,” said Bindeutel. “Consumers were put in a position to fight very hard to stop them, and that’s not the way commerce should be.”
Bindeutel said it’s a fairly easy process for victims to claim a refund.
“You do have to fill out a claim form, but we urge Missourians to do that, so that they can get their money back,” said Bindutel. “We did get some penalties in the case, but the biggest resources that were acquired are going to go to restitution to see that consumers are not financially harmed by this practice.”
Consumers can submit claims, find information about refund eligibility, learn how to obtain a refund, and request a free account summary that details PSMS purchases on their accounts by clicking the links below.