Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that customers could call 877-819-9692 to know about their eligibility for a refund.
The extra charges are incurred when third-party vendors for applications offering services like ringtones, horoscopes and celebrity gossips among other subscriptions add their fees to monthly bills from cellphone network carriers.
This process is called “cramming.”
In a conference call with reporters, Schumer said, “Cellphones act more like computers and credit cards fused together than actual telephones.
“Plus consumers easily, sometimes accidentally, purchase and download music and ringtones and newspaper subscriptions and alerts.”
While T-mobile customers can apply for refunds until June 30, Verizon and Sprint are in settlement negotiations with federal regulators.
Schumer said that a request for extending the deadline may be issued if enough customers don’t apply for reimbursement.
In October, AT&T reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for $105 million. Over similar charges, T-mobile settled with the FTC for $90 million in December. Verizon and Sprint remain in negotiations.
Other penalties inflicted on AT&T include paying $80 million to the FTC that will be used to pay back customers imposed with unnecessary charges. An additional $20 million will be paid by the company to all 50 states and Washington D.C. Lastly, the company will also be levied a $5 million penalty to be paid to the FTC.
Of these unwanted amounts charged to customers, AT&T received 35 percent of the share, according to a complaint issued by the FTC.
AT&T had to send three text messages to its customers over a period of three months to inform them whether they were eligible for a refund. In addition, the company was also required to include notices in the monthly bills. Customers who received their bills over e-mails were sent notices on their e-mail addresses.
In a statement, Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “The FTC has received more than 4.9 million refund requests from consumers in the AT&T mobile cramming settlement, which marks an unprecedented response to a consumer redress program.
“We agree with Senator Schumer that this is an important consumer protection issue. And we believe that the right balance has been struck between giving consumers ample opportunity and notice to claim refunds and getting refunds issued in a timely manner,” she said, according to USA Today.
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