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BREAKING NEWS: Verizon, Sprint to pay $158 million in ‘cramming’ settlement

Federal and state officials announced Tuesday that Verizon will pay $90 million and Sprint $68 million in fines and customer refunds to settle government probes into “cramming.”

“This settlement is another major victory for consumers,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who helped reach the deal. Attorney General Madigan and other officials have now negotiated $353 million in settlements with major cellphone carriers over the “cramming” scam.

Cramming is when a third-party company places a charge on your phone bill for something you never requested, such as a daily humor or trivia service. The charges—typically less than $10 a month—are cleverly entwined with the many other fees on your bill, making them hard to spot.

This isn’t the first time the government has cracked down on the scam. Last year, AT&T paid $105 million and T-Mobile paid $90 million to settle claims that its customers were hit with unauthorized third-party charges.

Regulators say the cellphone companies take a cut of cramming fees–up to 40 percent.

At the moment, we don’t have details on how customers can file a claim for a refund but stay tuned to CUB’s WatchBlog for updates on reimbursement information.

For now, protect yourself from scammers by reading CUB’s fact sheet on cramming.