AUGUSTA — Some 13,000 Mainers who are former and current customers of cellphone carrier T-Mobile USA Inc. might be eligible for part of a $90 million settlement against the company for engaging in a practice known as “mobile cramming.”
Mobile cramming, according to a news release from Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, is when a telephone company charges customers for third-party services that the customers did not authorize. In this case, it usually means $9.99 charges for text subscription charges such as horoscopes, trivia and sports scores.
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission were all part of the suit, which will result in about $203,000 for future consumer protection efforts in Maine.
T-Mobile is the second mobile telephone provider to enter into a nationwide settlement involving cramming. In October, Mills announced a similar $105 million settlement with AT&T. T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have all stopped billing customers for the third-party text services.
“Anyone with a mobile phone might have unwittingly signed up for one of these services,” Mills said in a written statement. “We believe that the practice was deceptive and unfair to consumers. It is a reminder that people should read their monthly bills carefully and question any charges they are unsure of.”
Under the settlement, T-Mobile must provide each cramming victim who files a claim under its Premium SMS Refund Program a full refund. Most of the $90 million settlement will be for customer refunds, though the company will also pay state attorneys general a total of $18 million, about $203,000 of which is coming to Maine to advance consumer protection efforts.
Consumers can submit claims or see a detailed personal account summary by visiting www.t-mobilerefund.com, or by calling (855) 382-6403.
The settlement also calls for T-Mobile to take a range of steps to ensure that its customers are not charged in the future for services they did not authorize.