Verizon, Sprint Customers Have Until Dec. 31 To Claim A Piece Of The $158M Cramming Settlement Pie

The holidays can be a tiring, stressful time, full of never-ending checklists. While you might have checked off plenty of your to-do items, if you’re a Verizon or Sprint customer, you’ll want to make sure you add “check to see if I’m eligible for a bill-cramming refund,” to the top of your list. 

Individuals who currently have or had wireless service with Verizon and Sprint in the last five years have until Dec. 31 to apply for a refund as part of the companies’ $158 million settlement with the Federal Communications Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for bill-cramming, the practice of allowing third parties to add bogus, unauthorized charges to customers’ phone bills.

Verizon and Sprint customers (or former customers) can visit the settlement websites — or — to see if they’re eligible for refunds.

According to the May settlements, Verizon’s portion of the penalty pie comes to $90 million; $70 million of that will go to redress for wronged customers. Sprint will pay $68 million, with $50 million going back to consumers.

Both companies allegedly made hundreds of millions of dollars in commissions by allowing third-party services to charge for unauthorized subscription services at monthly rates ranging from $0.99 to $14. For each of these monthly charges, Verizon earned at least 30%, while Sprint’s commission was around 35%.

Cramming occurred at all of the major wireless companies for years, even as consumers complained to their service providers and regulators about the unauthorized charges.

In Oct. 2014, AT&T kicked off the bill-cramming settlement parade by reaching a deal with federal regulators. The company’s deal came out to $105 million, of which $80 millions as slated to be refunded to affected customers.

In Dec. 2014, T-Mobile entered into a $112.5 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The company agreed to pay $90 million in consumer refunds, $18 million in fines and penalties to the attorneys general of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and $4.5 million to the Federal Communications Commission.

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