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Business and Economy

Maine AT&T Customers to Get Refunds for Bogus Cellphone Charges

Maine is part of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by all 50 state attorneys general and the federal government, claiming that AT&T overcharged cell phone customers from 2009 through this year by adding bogus third-party charges to their bills.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said the charges were hidden on the bill.

“Sports scores, or texting plans or some other mobile application came across on your bill - your cell phone bill - as data usage, which sounds like something quite distinctly related to your cell phone usage, but it’s not," she said.

As many as 96,000 Mainers could be due a refund from AT&T. They need to go to the Federal Trade Commission’s website to see if they are eligible.  Mills said the settlement requires the company to stop hiding charges.

“They have to get express consent from a customer before they can add on any third-party charges,” she said. “They must insure that the customer has been informed of all the material terms and conditions. They must provide a full refund or credit people who were billed these unauthorized third-party charges.”

Under the settlement agreement, AT&T is paying a total of $105 million to settle the lawsuit.  Maine is getting $225,000 as its share of penalties. The Federal Communications Commission is getting $5 million in fines. The FTC is administering the return of $80 million to AT&T customers.

Mills said other cell phone companies are also being investigated for adding bogus charges to their bills and maybe sued in the future.