Cellphone customers urged to file for 'cramming' refunds

Cellphone customers who have paid bogus charges on their wireless bills could get some money back as part of a so-called "cramming" settlement that the government has reached with major carriers.

Officials say cellphone companies were found to have allowed extra charges to be added to customers' text messaging bills without their authorization. The charges were for third-party services like daily jokes, horoscopes or weather, and the practice has been dubbed cramming.

People who didn't carefully examine their bills would wind up forking over money for the charges, which amounted to millions of dollars for some cellphone service carriers. The federal government filed a lawsuit, and now AT&T and T-Mobile are offering refunds.

Sen. Charles Schumer says the new problem is that many people aren't taking advantage of the refunds. "There is a long, long list, tens of thousands of people in the New York area who are entitled to these refunds," Schumer says. "But the cellphone carriers haven't gone out of their way to tell people."

Schumer says the deadline to apply for an AT&T refund is Friday, and the T-Mobile deadline is June 8. The senator is calling on the Federal Trade Commission and the carriers themselves to push back the filing deadline, so more people can apply for the refunds that they are owed.

All four major service carriers have agreed to stop "cramming," but details on refunds for Verizon or Sprint customers have not been announced.

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