AT&T to pay $700,000 for overcharging customers

“Today’s action sends a clear signal that wireless carriers can’t wrongfully charge consumers,’’ said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “These strong FCC accountability measures will ensure customers are not over-charged. I am pleased that AT&T is taking the appropriate steps to resolve this issue.”

The FCC launched an investigation last year after consumers complained to the agency. In addition to the fine and refunds, AT&T agreed to a compliance plan that includes reports to the FCC, employee training and notifications to its customers.. 

An AT&T spokesman said the agreement applies to only .03 percent of its customers who "inadvertently had a monthly data plan added to their account after getting a new smartphone through a warranty or insurance exchange or after relocating."

"We had already discovered and corrected the issue by November 2010, and had given refunds to customers who contacted us," the spokesman said. "Based on a review of our refund process, we believe a vast majority of those customers affected by the billing error have already been made whole. But as part of the decree we’ll be providing a bill-page notice to affected customers, offering refunds, and giving them the option to return to a data pay-per-use plan, or to have a data block applied to their phone."