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$160 million in refunds available for AT&T, T-Mobile cellphone customers

How closely do you look at your cellphone bill?

Ever notice any $9.99 charges for services that you don’t remember subscribing to, like horoscopes or trivia?

If you’re a current or former customer of AT&T, you have until Friday to file for a refund of unauthorized third-party charges made under a process known as “cramming.”

T-Mobile customers have until June 8 to request an account summary form, then must file their refund claims by June 30.

A total of $160 million has been set aside for refunds to cell phone customers affected by the practice, and most consumers aren’t aware they can get money back, Sen. Charles E. Schumer told reporters Wednesday in a conference call.

“The cellphone carriers are not trying to tell you,” he said.

So Schumer is spreading the word.

Customers of either provider can call: 1-877-819-9692.

AT&T consumers can apply online for a refund by visiting the secure FTC site (ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/att-refunds) while T-Mobile customers should go to the T-Mobile site, (t-mobilerefund.com).

In recent years, several of the major wireless carriers have been investigated by state and federal authorities for “cramming.” In November 2013, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon agreed to stop billing customers for such charges.

“These were unsolicited; no one gave permission to do it and then they charged them,” Schumer said. The phone companies have records of everyone who was charged for those services, he noted.

Cramming, Schumer said, “is scamming by another name.”

Settlements were reached with AT&T and T-Mobile to provide refunds to customers.

“There will be settlements with Verizon and Sprint, but they’re not available yet,” Schumer said.

Under their $105 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, AT&T agreed to set aside $80 million for refunds to current and former customers who paid unauthorized charges after Jan. 1, 2009.

T-Mobile agreed to a $90 million settlement with the Federal Communications Commission; $80 million was to be set aside for refunds for charges made after June 1, 2010.

According to the FTC, some charges may appear only once; others might show up every month. They may appear on bills as generic-sounding services and fees identified as minimum use, activation, member or subscription.

Examine each section of your mobile phone bill, the FTC advises, paying special attention to sections labeled “Miscellaneous,” as well “third-party” charge sections.

email: jhabuda@buffnews.com