AT&T swamped with refund demands over “cramming” scam; FTC predicts record number of claims

Since the Federal Trade Commission announced a $105 million settlement with AT&T last week over fake billing charges, 359,000 individuals have already come forward to claim their share of the refund money, and that number is expected to climb.

The claims relate to so-called “cramming” charges in which AT&T customers paid extra fees, usually in the amount of $9.99, for “premium SMS” services that promised to deliver content like horoscopes and celebrity news to cell phones. Such services are a relic of the pre-smartphone days, but people still paid for them, often without authorization, with [company]AT&T[/company] receiving a commission on the charges.

Yesterday, an FTC official told Time that the customer response rate to the settlement was one of the highest she could remember, and second only to a 2012 settlement over deceptive shoe marketing by Skechers. The official added that, in the near future, she expected the number of AT&T refund claims would surpass the half-million Skechers claims.

The process for making a claim is very straightforward: anyone who was an AT&T customer after January 1, 2009 can simply fill out this online form, which only requires a phone number and address.

Refunds will take at least nine months to process. The settlement process involves a third party company that will evaluate whether each claim is valid, though the FTC official told Time that she predicts most claims will be accepted.