22 Nov 2013

AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile Stop Charging for Premium SMSs to Fight Fraud

Three of the largest US mobile phone carriers agreed to cease charging customers for premium text messages in a joint campaign to fight fraud, announced Vermont attorney general William Sorrell.

"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.

According to a recent study by the office of the attorney general, 60 percent of third-party charges on the mobile phone bills of Vermont citizens are unauthorized. The scam messages cost Americans $2 million per year.

AT&T and T-Mobile are the first carriers to discontinue all billing for premium SMS services. These services allow customers to subscribe via an SMS reply and receive information such as weather alerts, sports score alerts, daily jokes and horoscopes. However, they can hide malware operations that scam people into downloading malicious apps or “cram” phone bills by sending unauthorized SMS on their behalf.

T-Mobile said it intends to still allow charitable donations via this type of service. “After careful evaluation of the program, T-Mobile is now in the process of protecting our customers from being billed for premium SMS services -- except for charitable and political giving -- as soon as possible, with as little impact as possible to our customers,” announced T-Mobile on its website.

Forty-five US states are participating in the US Federal Communications Commission’s national campaign against the use of text messages to cram mobile telephone bills with unauthorized charges.