Way back in May of this year, both Verizon and Sprint were investigated for cramming – the practice of stuffing customer bills with unwanted third-party charges – by the FCC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and state attorneys general. Both companies admitted fault and agreed to pay a combined total of $158 million back to customers who were affected by the practice.

If you suspect you were charged for services you didn’t want in the past (the CFPB claims that Sprint was doing it from 2004 to December 2013; Verizon up to January 2014), you have until December 31st to submit a claims refund through either Sprint or Verizon.

In a nutshell, “cramming” is the practice of sneaking unauthorized third-party charges into a customer’s bill and keeping the charges small so that they’ll go unnoticed, and in return for doing this the carrier gets to keep a portion of the third-party’s profits. In this case, the average charge was $9.99 per month, but wireless bills are already so expensive and chock full of tiny charges that it’s easy to overlook these things, especially when they’re given unassuming names.

Some customers did notice them, however, and the CFPB also accused both companies of more or less ignoring the complaints and failing to compensate the customers who asked for the charges to be reversed.

Both companies claim to have stopped “cramming” long before the investigations started, which should still make you very wary of using either. Representatives from Sprint also claim to have reimbursed customers prior to the settlement, but it’s unknown whether that’s true, how many may have been reimbursed, or whether or not it had any effect on the settlement.

If you were wronged, I strongly urge you to take action. You were ripped off, plain and simple, and you deserve compensation.

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