Attorney General Tim Fox announced today that the Office of Consumer Protection, along with other nationwide organizations, reached settlements with Sprint and Verizon Wireless that include $158 million in payments and resolved allegations regarding "mobile cramming." Sprint and Verizon were reportedly placing charges on consumers’ cellphone bills that were not authorized by the cellphone user.

"Typically what someone might see is a $9.00 or $10.00 per month premium for a text message subscription service maybe horoscopes, trivia, or sports scores, that they don't recall ever approving," Assistant Attorney General Andres Haladay said. "They might just come in as a recurring monthly charge."

Haladay said Montana received $306,563 for its participation in the Sprint and Verizon settlements. The national mobile cramming settlements with the four mobile carriers have netted Montana a total of $723,171.

"Two more mobile carriers will now have to make things right for consumers who were wrongfully charged for services they didn't want in the first place," Attorney General Tim Fox said. "I encourage Montana's Sprint and Verizon customers who are eligible for refunds or credits to file claims and I thank our Office of Consumer Protection for its diligent work in recovering a total of over $723,000 in settlement monies from mobile carriers since last year."

Haladay said Sprint and Verizon are the third and fourth mobile telephone providers to enter into a nationwide settlement to resolve allegations regarding cramming.

"Overall, the state is going to receive about $131,000 from Sprint in the settlement and about $175,000 from Verizon," Haladay said. "Those monies go specifically to continue the Montana Office of Consumer Protection's enforcement of the consumer laws, dedicating staff time to operations like this."

Looking at the bigger picture, Haladay said victims of mobile cramming will have the ability to have those charges refunded. Haladay advises that people should look at their phone bills, and if they have fallen victim to such charges, visit www.SprintRefundPSMS.comor for Verizon, www.CFPBSettlementVerizon.com and submit claims that way.

Sprint and Verizon are the third and fourth mobile telephone providers to enter into a nationwide settlement to resolve allegations regarding cramming.