T-Mobile has announced that effective immediately, it will halt support for Premium SMS services over its network due to years of customer complaints regarding fraudulent billing issues as result of registration on such services. The carrier has also ended its association with the largest provider of gateway service for premium SMS as a result of the change.
Premium SMS services reached their apex in the mid-2000s when they were frequently advertised on TV, typically with cheap, poorly produced commercials that ran late at night or in the mid-morning hours touting such services such as humor, ringtones and horoscopes, that were promoted as being charged at low rates or even free, but made no mentions of being billed on a monthly basis, unless one listened rather closely to the audio for the announcer detailing the disclaimers, typically at high speed.
T-Mobile will still allow premium SMS services to operate on its network if they are affiliated with a legally registered charitable organization or political action committee, but any other type of premium service will be banned from access to the carrier as soon as possible. This change is also not expected to affect shortcodes connected to businesses such as social media, banking or media campaigns backed by TV networks. Verizon and AT&T have also followed suit, eliminating support for such services as well with the same exceptions outlined by T-Mobile. Below, Verizon’s statement on the changes, with the statement from Vermont’s Attorney General before it:
“While [premium text] 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.”-Bill Sorrell, Attorney General, Vermont
“While we don’t agree with all of the attorney general’s allegations, we respect his efforts in this area. 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. We are in the process of winding down our premium messaging business.”