AT&T begins refunding 2.7 million customers over bill cramming

If you're an AT&T mobile customer (or you used to be one), you may see a bill credit in the next couple months or find a check in the mail soon. According to the FTC, AT&T has mailed the first round of checks to former customers refunding some of the money they spent due to the carrier's alleged bill cramming issue. Current AT&T customers — of which about 2.7 million are affected — will see their refund in the form of a bill credit within the next 75 days.

This is the culmination of a long ongoing issue between AT&T and the FTC, with the latter accusing the carrier of so-called "bill cramming" — that is, the practice of stuffing some extraneous expenses into a bill that many people aren't likely to realize they're paying.

In this case, the FTC says AT&T was charging people for things like wallpaper and ringtone subscriptions provided by other companies, with some people being charged as much as an extra $9.99/month. The FTC says it received more than 5 million claims from AT&T customers over the alleged bill cramming practice.

During its probe, the commission found that more than 2.7 million people were affected and are in the pipeline for refunds from the carrier. AT&T will spend $88 million on these bill refunds/credits. The refund plan was reviewed by an independent auditor who ultimately approved it.

Letters with accompanying checks explaining the scenario have been sent out to some of these affected former customers. It isn't clear how many were mailed in the first round, nor when the next batch will go out. The refund amount will likely depend on how long you were with the carrier and how much you paid it due to bill cramming. AT&T says the average refund works out to $31 per customer.