Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum announced today that three of the nation’s largest mobile phone carriers – AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile – will stop including commercial third-party charges related to so-called “Premium Short Messaging Services” in customers’ bills. PSMS, or “premium text messages,” can result in charges for unwanted and unneeded services that consumers may not even realize they are paying for. For example, unscrupulous businesses may use PSMS to charge consumers for services such as horoscope subscriptions, which the consumers did not knowingly authorize.
The practice of “cramming” unauthorized third-party charges onto phone bills is estimated to cost Americans $2 billion annually. Oregon, Vermont, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Texas and Washington have been working on behalf of forty-five states to stop cramming. This decision by the carriers marks a major breakthrough, as PSMS charges account for the majority of third-party charges on mobile phone bills. Carriers say they may continue to allow charitable donations authorized by their customers to be billed via PSMS.
“Customers shouldn’t be billed for charges they didn’t authorize,” Attorney General Rosenblum said. “My office will continue fighting for Oregonians against these kinds of billing practices.”
Michael Kron, Department of Justice, firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-602-1959