AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint to stop charging for most premium text messages

Verizon Wireless is also winding down its premium messaging business

Three major U.S. carriers have agreed not to charge their customers for premium text messages, which have emerged as a route for unauthorized third-party charges on mobile phone bills.

AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile will not charge their customers for commercial Premium Short Messaging Services, which gave users the ability to purchase or subscribe to messaging programs provided by third-party content providers, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said in a statement on Thursday.

Forty-five states, including Vermont, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Oregon, Texas and Washington, have been in discussions aimed at stopping mobile "cramming," which essentially refers to unauthorized third-party charges that appear on mobile phone bills. PSMS account for the majority of third-party charges on cell phones but also for a large majority of cramming complaints, Sorrell said.

Verizon Wireless is winding down its premium messaging business, though it was not part of the announcement by Sorrell. Its General Counsel William B. Petersen said in a statement that the operator had previously decided to exit the premium messaging business because of changes in the ways customers access information as well as recent allegations that third-parties have engaged in improper conduct in providing the premium services to its customers.

The change may not affect text-to-donate for charitable programs and text-to-contribute for political campaigns. Sorrell said two carriers had confirmed that they will continue to allow charitable donations to be billed through PSMS. T-Mobile, for example, said it is stopping as soon as possible all billing for premium text services, except for charitable and political giving.

"Despite protections and processes put in place by T-Mobile and the industry, not all premium text message (SMS) vendors have acted responsibly," T-Mobile wrote on its support page. Standard messaging campaigns like voting on shows like American Idol will continue unaffected, it added.

Verizon also said it would continue to support text-to-donate for charitable programs and text-to-contribute for political campaigns that use the technology.

"We are pleased that AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have decided to stop the flow of money from the pockets of ordinary people to the bank accounts of scam artists," Sorrell said. He urged other carriers to follow their lead.

Cramming on cell phones and landlines is estimated to cost Americans US$2 billion a year. In May, the attorney general released a survey that showed that 60 percent of third-party charges placed on the mobile phone bills of the people of Vermont were unauthorized.

On Thursday, the operators of Wise Media in Atlanta agreed to settle with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges that they crammed $10 million worth of charges onto mobile phone users' bills without their consent. The FTC charged the company for sending text messages with horoscopes, flirting and love tips and other information at $9.99 per month, without customers' permission.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags sprinttelecommunicationCarriersat&tregulationt-mobilemobilegovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?