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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > November 2015 > Verizon and Sprint Customers May be Eligible for Refunds Under Cramming Settlements

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Verizon and Sprint Customers May be Eligible for Refunds Under Cramming Settlements

Sprint and Verizon customers who experienced unauthorized third-party charges on their cell phone bills (a practice known as “mobile cramming”) have until Dec. 31, 2015, to seek refunds under national settlements Attorney General DeWine announced earlier this year.
Verizon customers can download or submit a claim form at or request a claim form by mail by calling the Verizon settlement hotline at 888-726-7063.
Sprint customers can submit a claim or find a claim forms at or call the Sprint settlement hotline 877-389-8787.
Sprint prepaid customers (Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, Sprint Prepaid, and Assurance Wireless) can file claims for a one-time $7 refund for unauthorized charges that were not previously refunded, according to the Sprint settlement site.
Cramming involves a company adding unauthorized charges to a consumer’s phone bill. The scam has targeted landline telephones for more than a decade, and in recent years, it became more prevalent with wireless telephone bills.
A garden-variety example of cramming could begin when someone enters his or her phone number into a website to enter a contest, join a club, or receive information about potential romantic interests. While many scammers need personal information like a Social Security number, credit card, or other financial account number to commit fraud, a crammer generally would need only to obtain a person’s telephone number to add charges to a phone bill, making it even easier to lure a victim into losing money. Text messages, e-mails, phone calls, and print advertisements also could be used to try to collect phone numbers for cramming.
Many consumers may have failed to notice bogus charges caused by cramming because crammers often use nonspecific-sounding names like “monthly charge” or “service fee” to describe the charges on the bill. Also, the charges are often small, usually ranging from $1.99 to $9.99.
Earlier this year, Attorney General DeWine, along with the attorneys general of the other 49 states and the District of Columbia, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced national settlements with Verizon and Sprint to resolve allegations that the companies allowed consumers’ cell phone bills to be crammed. Under the settlements, which are estimated to affect hundreds of thousands of Ohioans, Verizon and Sprint agreed to pay a total of $158 million, most of which will be used to reimburse consumers.
Sprint and Verizon were the third and fourth mobile telephone providers to enter into nationwide settlements to resolve cramming allegations. Attorney General DeWine announced similar settlements with AT&T in October of 2014 ($105 million) and T-Mobile in December of 2014 ($90 million).
Under the settlements, the phone carriers agreed to make several changes designed to make mobile cramming less likely, but there are a number of ways you can prevent being taken by this scam:  
  • Review your phone bill carefully each month for charges you do not recognize. Fraudulent charges could be either one-time or recurring. You may be able to request a more detailed bill from your provider online or over the phone if your bill usually contains few details about the charges.
  • Keep a record of the services you have signed up for.
  • Don’t enter your telephone number into websites you do not trust.
  • Watch out for unsolicited texts; this could be a sign that you are receiving a service you did not order.
  • Read every part of the promotional material and any forms before signing up for services to be charged on your bill.
  • Ask your telephone carrier if it will block third-party charges.
  • If you are unsure about a charge on your phone bill, ask your provider before you pay it.
If you suspect a scam or unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting