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AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile Will Stop Billing Problematic Third-Party Charges

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-3173

November 21, 2013

Forty-five states, led by Vermont, with Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Oregon, Texas and Washington, have been engaged in discussions aimed at stopping the practice of mobile cramming—unauthorized third-party charges that appear on mobile telephone bills. In what is a major breakthrough in the fight against mobile cramming, Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced today that three of the nation’s largest mobile phone carriers—AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile—will no longer charge their customers for commercial Premium Short Messaging Services, also known as “PSMS,” or “premium text messages.” PSMS accounts for the majority of third-party charges on cell phones and for the overwhelming majority of cramming complaints.

“This is a victory for cell phone users in Vermont and across the nation,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “While PSMS has some benefits, like charitable giving, it is also a major contributor to the current mobile cramming problem. 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. We’re hopeful the other carriers will soon follow their lead. There is still much work to be done. My office will continue to work with other states for industry reforms and to recover money for consumers victimized by cramming.”

Cramming on cell phones and landlines is estimated to cost Americans $2 Billion per year. In May, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell released a survey showing that 60% of third-party charges placed on the mobile phone bills of Vermonters were unauthorized, or “crammed.”

AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are the second, third and fourth largest providers of mobile telephone services nationwide. Two carriers have confirmed they will continue to allow charitable donations to be billed via PSMS.

Attorney General Sorrell urges all mobile phone consumers to review the charges that appear on their monthly bills to make sure all charges are legitimate. Consumers who believe their mobile phone bills contain improper or unauthorized charges should call their carrier and ask for a refund of all authorized charges, and may contact the Vermont Consumer Assistance Program at 800-649-2424 (in state only); within Chittenden County call (802) 656-3183.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.