Business

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint — but not Verizon — finally agree to stop charging for ‘premium’ spam texts

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: For years now, U.S. carriers have charged customers for text subscription services — even if they didn’t sign up for these services.

The texting services, which most commonly include weather alerts, daily jokes, and sports scores, have been an effective way for spammers to prey on consumers, few of whom realize just how much the texts cost. The practice, known as cramming, is estimated to cost Americans as much as $2 billion per year.

Now, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have all agreed to stop charging customers for the messages, at least in most cases. Exempt from the new rules are premium texts for donations to charities and political campaigns, which the carriers will continue to charge for.

The move is the result of a 45-state effort led in part by Vermont Attorney General William Sorrel, who announced the move on Thursday.

“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,” Sorrel wrote.

Which brings us to Verizon. Rather than join its competition, the nation’s largest carrier says it plans to go its own way and wind down its premium messaging business entirely.

“Verizon had previously decided to exit the premium messaging business because of these changes as well as recent allegations that third parties have engaged in improper conduct in providing premium messaging services to our customers,” the company said in a statement to The Verge.


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