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Verizon settlement on hidden landline fees may mean a refund for you

Does Verizon owe you a refund?

If you had a landline telephone account with the company from April 27, 2005, to Feb. 28, 2012, it just might.

In March, Verizon settled a class-action lawsuit that accused the company of placing charges on customers' bills on behalf of third-party companies for services customers didn't know they had authorized.

It's referred to as "cramming." Companies trick consumers into authorizing small charges on their bills each month for services they may never use, such as identity theft protection, email accounts or yellow pages services. They do it by slipping a sentence or two into some fine print or prompting a customer to call a certain phone number.

Unlike most class-action settlements, which usually end up paying just a fraction of the amount a consumer was defrauded, this suit entitles those who paid unauthorized third-party charges to a full refund.

Consumers can request from Verizon a summary of all third-party charges they were billed during the affected period or submit a request for a flat $40 payment, but the attorneys handling the case have cautioned that certain customers could be owed hundreds of dollars in refunded charges.

The deadline to submit a claim form is Nov. 15. However, Verizon customers should request a summary of charges as soon as possible, since Verizon is experiencing a backlog of requests.

Brandon Jonas works in client services at utility auditing firm Troy & Banks.

"I have been working on this refund for several clients and requested a summary of third-party charges that were billed to their accounts, so that I can use them as backup to substantiate a claim for a full refund," he said. "[The] settlement website states that a summary will be emailed in approximately 14 days. I submitted a request for a summary approximately a month and a half ago and have not received it yet."

For more information, to request a summary of charges or to submit a claim, call 1-877-772-6219 or visit www.verizonthirdpartybillingsettlement.com.?

email:?schristmann@buffnews.com