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AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile Will Stop Billing Problematic Third-Party Cell Phone Charges Known as ‘Mobile Cramming’
November 22, 2013
(Augusta, Me) In what is a major breakthrough in the fight against mobile cramming, Attorney General Janet T. Mills 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.”
Forty-five states, including Maine, have been engaged in discussions aimed at stopping the practice of mobile cramming – unauthorized third-party charges that appear on mobile telephone bills. 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 Maine and across the nation,” said Attorney General Mills. “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. An analysis of consumer complaints filed with the Maine Attorney General’s Office last year showed that telecommunications bill cramming was one of the top ten most common complaints reported.
Cramming typically begins when a consumer purchases a cell phone app or downloads a ringtone, but the third-party continues to charge monthly fees without the consumer’s consent. The method has been rife with abuses because many consumers see just a small fee on their bill, usually less than two dollars and they do not attempt to challenge it. However, spread across thousands of consumers, the scammers can fraudulently collect large sums.