By Diane Bartz and Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - AT&T Inc will pay $105 million to settle allegations that it put unauthorized charges on customers' cell phone bills, a practice known as cramming, federal regulators said on Wednesday. The settlement comes after years of complaints from cell phone owners about being charged for services like daily horoscopes or trivia that they never requested. It was negotiated by the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and all state attorneys general. AT&T will pay $80 million to refund customers while $20 million is earmarked for penalties and fees to all 50 U.S. states and Washington, said the FTC. The FCC also fined the company $5 million. The FTC alleged that for companies whose billing was handled by AT&T, as many as 40 percent of subscribers complained about the charges. "What’s shocking to me, as I thought about this particular settlement, is that we’re talking about reputable companies like AT&T and others. This isn’t, you know, Phil’s Phone Shack that’s doing this," said Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler. Prodded by state attorneys general, AT&T, T-Mobile US , Verizon and Sprint agreed in November to stop billing customers for such third-party services. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler estimated that 20 million consumers a year are crammed, and said other wireless providers were under scrutiny. "Stay tuned," said Wheeler, hinting of potential actions against other carriers. AT&T said it had "rigorous protections" against unauthorized billing but it eventually scrapped what it called premium short messaging services, or PSMS. "We reached a broad settlement to resolve claims that some of our wireless customers were billed for charges from third-parties that the customers did not authorize. This settlement gives our customers who believe they were wrongfully billed for PSMS the ability to get a refund," an AT&T spokesman said in an emailed statement. FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said consumers were often hit with $9.99 charges lumped together into "AT&T monthly subscriptions" on their bills. When customers protested, Ramirez said, "Instead of acting to stop the charges, AT&T continued to make hundreds of millions of dollars from the practice by taking at least 35 percent of every charge and refused to provide refunds to many consumers." The FTC has also moved against the smaller companies which originate the charges. The FCC and the Justice Department are reviewing AT&T's proposal to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion. In July, the FTC filed a complaint against T-Mobile USA, accusing the wireless provider of cramming. The commission asked the court to order T-Mobile US, the fourth-largest U.S. mobile phone provider by number of customers, to stop mobile cramming, provide refunds and give up revenues from the practice. The FCC is also investigating T-Mobile US for cramming. AT&T shares were up 0.3 percent in afternoon trade. (Editing by Ros Krasny, Susan Heavey, David Gregorio and Bernard Orr)
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting
- LA Times
Hours before actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of 'Rust,' a half-dozen camera operators walked off the set to protest working conditions.
Lawyer for Brian Laundrie's family addresses speculation about how easily his dad found his belongings, saying the public 'doesn't understand simplicity'
Brian Laundrie's parents could not have planted his remains or had special knowledge about where they were, the family lawyer said.
- CBS News
The discovery came after a weeks-long manhunt following the death of Gabby Petito.
- Idaho Statesman
With six No. 1 country songs to tap, this concert should be a crowd pleaser.
Peter Scolari, the prolific television and stage actor who found instant fame and a lifelong friendship with Tom Hanks when the two co-starred in the hit 1980 TV comedy Bosom Buddies, died early Friday morning following a two-year battle with cancer. He was 66. His death was announced by Ellen Lubin Sanitsky at Wright Entertainment. […]
- Washington Examiner
Actor Alec Baldwin was distraught and shocked after fatally shooting a crew member on the set of his latest movie, asking repeatedly why he was given a "hot gun," according to a new report.
- The Daily Beast
Vanderburgh County Sheriff's OfficeA 36-year-old Indiana woman is behind bars after police discovered two people tied up and shackled in her home—one of them “deceased and beyond help.”The woman, identified by Evansville authorities as Heidi Carter, faces a string of charges in connection with the Tuesday night incident, which police say took even them by surprise.It all began after a woman flagged down an Indiana state trooper late Tuesday night, saying she’d stopped by Carter’s home only to fi
- The Daily Beast
YouTube/ABCA family of three found dead on a Northern California hiking trail in August died of heat exposure and possible dehydration, the local sheriff’s office revealed Thursday.“Heat-related deaths are extremely difficult to investigate,” Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said at a press conference, citing an official cause of death of “hyperthermia and probably dehydration.”The bodies of John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, and their 1-year-old daughter Muji were found mid-August on the Savage Lu
At least 4 other bodies were found during the almost 2-month search for Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie
Authorities looking for the couple in Alabama, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Colorado have inadvertently discovered other remains.
The actor fired a prop weapon that killed a crew member and injured the director on the set of his film "Rust."
- Business Insider
'I've lost my joy': Anti-vax Republican, who worked for the Trump campaign and embraced QAnon, says she has COVID-19
Lauren Witzke, the 2020 GOP candidate for US Senate in Delaware, told followers she had "lost all of my senses."
- Atlanta Black Star
A 4-foot-8 Black Woman Was Accosted By Group of Boys, Minutes Later a Louisiana Deputy Was Flinging Her By Her Hair In Shocking Video; Investigation Launched
An investigation has been launched in a New Orleans suburb after a video captured a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy flinging a 4-foot-8 Black woman […]
- Atlanta Black Star
‘Kiss My Black A—!’: Halle Berry Had a Fiery Response After ‘X-Men United’ Director Lashed Out During a Staged Drug Intervention
Halle Berry’s intensity on-screen as Storm in the X-Men films was just as fiery on set at least on one occasion, says a former co-star. […]
'She Started Screaming': Controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Spars with Liz Cheney on House Floor
"They got into a back and forth about 'Jewish space lasers,' " Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin told reporters after the altercation — as Greene says she was criticizing the Capitol riot investigation "witch hunt"
"Things started to go south for me was when I hit, I think it was 25."View Entire Post ›
- Kansas City Star
The family reportedly had the dog for only three weeks.
- NBC Sports BayArea
Paul George learned Thursday night.
Laundrie family lawyer said Brian was 'visibly upset' when he left for the reserve, and his father 'wished he hadn't left but he couldn't stop him'
"Perhaps when certain conversations wrap up there will be communications with the family," attorney Steven Bertolino said on "Top Story With Tom Llamas."
- Robb Report
The plate comes with a matching one-of-a-kind NFT.
- Atlanta Black Star
‘Sunny Is Just As Smart’: Condoleezza Rice’s ‘Brazenly Condescending’ Back and Forth with ‘The View’ Co-Host Sunny Hostin Called Out by Viewers
Sunny Hostin and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have different views regarding the Capitol riots that took place on Jan. 6. Those disagreements came […]