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DALLAS(CBS11 I-TEAM) – Your cell phone could be your ticket to some unexpected money.

Verizon Wireless and Sprint Corporation have agreed to pay a combined $68 million to their customers—all because of a class action lawsuit over cramming.

Cramming charges are the fees that are often very hard to find on your phone bill. They are from third-parties billing you for services you likely never requested–maybe texts for sports scores, horoscopes, and/or trivia.

The government has been fighting cramming for years…calling these “fraudulent charges.” Many of you have even called and complained about the charges to the I-Team.

Last year, AT&T and T-Mobile agreed to pay fines and refund customers in similar settlements. And now relief is headed to you Verizon and Sprint customers, current and former, who found the charges on your bills after July 1, 2010.

The deadline to file the claims is December 31, 2015.

So how of a refund can you expect?

The amount could vary from $7.00 to a full refund for all your unauthorized charges. The total will depend on whether you are a pre-paid or post-paid customer as well as how many of you opt into these suits.

This week there was a small hiccup in the Sprint settlement. A federal judge wants more information before he signs it. The I-Team did checked on the Sprint website and you can still opt in.

The deadline to file the claims is December 31, 2015.

We reached out to both companies for comment.

Sprint sent us the following statement:

“Sprint was an industry leader in enacting rigorous safeguards to protect customers against unauthorized billing by PSMS merchants. We took proactive and industry-leading steps to monitor the third-party ecosystem. The FCC acknowledges these fraud prevention safeguards in its consent decree.

Sprint has always put its customers’ interests first, and, under its liberal PSMS refund policy, returned tens of millions of dollars long before the Government initiated its investigation of our industry

We recognize this is an important issue for our customers, and we consistently have encouraged customers who think they may have incurred an unauthorized third-party charge on their phone bill to contact Sprint to resolve the issue.

Here is information about how to get a refund:
In the coming weeks and months, Sprint will reach out directly to current and former customers to provide information on how to submit a refund request for PSMS charges that customers believe they did not authorize. And, as always, our customers can reach out to us anytime they think they may have incurred an unauthorized third-party charge on their phone bill. For questions about this matter click here.

And here is more information for you about what Sprint has done to prevent unauthorized third-party charges:
Sprint carefully developed and implemented requirements in coordination with industry participants to ensure customers had a method to authorize payment through a double “opt-in” purchase process before charges were permitted to appear on a customer bill..
Sprint also took proactive and industry-leading steps to monitor the third-party ecosystem. Specifically, Sprint was the first major wireless carrier to partner with an outside compliance vendor to proactively monitor companies that placed charges on Sprint bills to ensure compliance with strict industry and internal standards. Also, we carefully vetted each company seeking to bill Sprint subscribers in order to filter out potential bad actors. Indeed, the FCC acknowledges these fraud prevention safeguards in its consent decree. We continue to review and improve these and other safeguards to mitigate the risk of unauthorized charges by third parties.
Sprint’s billing safeguards align with the government’s own recommendations. This includes giving consumers the tools to block third-party charges; taking steps to help ensure that consumers consent to all charges; clearly displaying the third-party charges on our invoices, including through a designated “third-party charges” section; and making it easy for consumers to obtain information on charges and resolve billing issues, including by providing refunds.”

Verizon sent us this statement:

“Well before any government action, Verizon Wireless stopped allowing companies to place charges for premium text message services on customers’ bills. Today’s settlement reflects Verizon’s continued focus on putting customers first. Customers who believe they were billed improperly for these services may seek a refund. They can click here for more information.

Verizon Wireless rigorously protected its customers from unauthorized third-party charges for premium text message services. Verizon thoroughly vetted the companies that provided these services and terminated providers who did not comply with our industry-leading practices. Customers also benefited from a broad policy of providing refunds to those who claimed that a third-party charge was not authorized.”

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