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AT&T Will Refund Vermonters For Phone 'Cramming'

Approximately 45,000 Vermonters will be on the receiving end of a settlement reached with AT&T in which the company has agreed to compensate cellular phone customers for unauthorized charges to their bills.

The settlement is part of a larger agreement reached with the federal government, all 50 states and the District of Columbia to return fees resulting from a practice known as ‘cramming’.

It involves allowing third parties to add charges to bills for services consumers they did not know they agreed to and often don’t receive.   

Last year, the nation’s largest mobile carriers told the attorneys general in 45 states, including Vermont that they will no longer pass along third party charges for what are called “premium text message services”.  

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell says AT&T is the first to agree to a nationwide settlement to resolve past cramming practices. The overcharges to Vermont customers are estimated at $1 million.

AT&T will pay a total of $105 million nationally to settle cramming claims, $80 million of which will be used to refund customers. The remainder will be paid to the states and the Federal Communications Commission.

The FTC will administer the settlement through a website that contains information on how consumers can claim refunds.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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