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Premium text messages are a dream come true for scammers.  (Source: Discover)
Industry needs to ban fraud-friendly premium text messages, customers need to preemptively block PSMS

Last year I covered about how some malicious parties were attacking Android users by trying to get access to premium text messages.  But most of these reports were coming from regions like Russia.  I didn't think U.S. telecoms would allow this thing to happen.  I was wrong.

Premium short messaging service (PSMS) messages are the perfect tool for fraud.  Costing as much as $10 per message, they fall under a gray region of U.S. laws.  And as some readers pointed out to me after I wrote this piece originally, telecoms profit off their users being defrauded.

Carriers get 30 to 50 percent of the fee for each premium message the user pays for.  Some companies -- such as AT&T, Inc. (T) -- have adopted stricter guidelines to try to prevent abuse of this technology, but only after they were sued for it [source].  Others -- like Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) -- are still leaving customers wide open for fraud.

I. How I Got Hit By the Frauders

Well, I have discovered first hand that this kind of scam is alive and well here in the states.  And after digging I discovered sadly it's the policies of Sprint-- a company I've typically had only good things to say about because of its low prices and relatively good service -- that allowed this mess to happen in the first place.

It all started with a message from a number "74248" which read, "Guess What?  Instead of a Birthday Cake, many Russian children are given a Birthday Pie"

"Well, that's odd," I thought.

But occasionally I've received odd promotion texts from standard numbers who somehow mined my data.  And I've been condition just to delete or tag spam so I honestly just ignored it.

Over the next couple months more messages rolled in -- at a pace of exactly one message per month.  A couple of the other messages read:

Guess What?  The reason why flamingos are pink is because they eat shrimp which have a red pigment.  For HELP call 18668611606

Guess What? The placement of a donkeys eyes on its head enables it to see all four feet at all times!  For HELP call 18668611606.

 
Mobsetter IQ

And then the most ominous message rolled in, in October (after three months and three messages), reading:

MOBSETTER IQ Fun Facts has billed @ $9.99/mo.  Reply HELP for help, Reply STOP to cancel.  Msg&Data Rates May Apply.
 
Again, I've been conditioned to reject spam, but at this point a lightbulb went on in my brain and I recalled those stories on premium text messages and got a sinking feeling.  So I dialed Sprint.

II. Sprint Condones its Customers Being Scammed

The Sprint customer service rep confirmed that those were premium text messages, at a cost of $9.99 USD each.  The rep asked, "Have you ever signed up for this service?"

"No.  I've never seen or heard of this service in my life.  Clearly this is some sort of data mining/fraud scheme."

The Sprint rep tells me, "Well if someone had access to your phone, they could have sent a message signing you up for this service."

Sprint Sign
[Source: Lisa Poole/AP]

No, I explained, I kept my phone on me at all times, locked, and only I have used it. And I never signed up for "MOBSETTER IQ". 

Eventually the service rep agreed to refund the premium texts.  But I wanted to get to the bottom of this so I probed deeper.  I asked why there was this option in the first place.  I was told that Sprint customers were automatically "opted in" to allow premium texts and I had to specifically opt out (which, at this point I did).  I asked them to double check this with their supervisor.

Indeed, the supervisor confirmed (or at least was of the belief) that Sprint automatically opts its customers into allowing premium rate text messages.

Shocked and beginning to sympathize for the plight of my fellow Sprint subscribers I asked, "Well are you at least going to block this number from sending messages to other Sprint customers?"

"No.  Some people want to use this kind of service," the rep replied.

Really?  People want to pay $9.99 per text to get nonsensical, grammatically incorrect text messages from a company that clearly engages in fraud?  That's pretty hard to believe.

I asked them to get their supervisor and confirm to me what kind of policy was in place for eventually dealing with scammers.  There had to be some kind of system in place.

The supervisor informed me that indeed, if enough customers called (like I had) to report fraud from a particular premium number, Sprint would block it.  But this blocking was purely reactionary.  

This was about where our conversation ended and it left me very concerned about the safety and financial security of my fellow Sprint subscribers.

Let me summarize:
  1. It's easy to mine people's phone numbers -- many seemingly legitimate Android apps even do this (technically they have to ask for permission, but if apps like Angry Birds ask for your number, you tend to falsely trust them).  Further, many people give out their numbers for business (as I do as a journalist), so there's yet another source of exploitable numbers.
  2. Once a scammer has your number, on Sprint's network, they can freely send you premium rate texts without warning or opt in, billing you $9.99 per text.
  3. Let's assume that only 50 percent of customers notice this and respond.  After all, if you're paying $120/month for a 4G smartphone + tethering + fees, $10 is somewhat easy to miss, particularly if you're a busy person.
  4. So taking the 50 percent rate, assume that the spammers send 20,000 people one premium text message.  Of those people, 10,000 complain about the message, while the other 10,000 unwittingly pay for it.
  5. Sprint has now handed the scammer ~$100K USD, which the scammer can merrily wire off to a Swiss bank account, as they light up a cigar in their shack in Russia or whatever other region they happen to reside in.
I am apalled that Sprint is letting this happen and any subscriber should be too.  Sprint is absolutely condoning -- effectively supporting, even -- this kind of fraud.

Update:
A Sprint employee emailed me after this article went live, pointing me to this webpage.  It claims:

One of the handy things about a Sprint device is how easy it is to receive mobile content via text message. Premium Text Messaging allows you to enjoy a variety of mobile content supplied by third-party providers, and pay for that content via your cell phone bill. Since you will later be billed for this content, you must subscribe (opt-in) to any Premium Messaging service.

That's nice, but it appears that:
a) At least some of Sprint's customer service representatives are unaware of this policy.
b) People are still getting these messages without opting in.

I find it highly fishy that Sprint's "opt in" system magically stops working on a form of fraud that the company reportedly directly profits off of.  At best Sprint is misleading customers by claiming they're safe if they don't opt in (again in my experience you can get these messages and charges on Sprint without ever opting in).  At worst it's lying to customers in order to participate in a deliberate profit-driven fraud scheme.

III. Verizon and AT&T Offer Stronger Protections

So I wanted to get some perspective so I contacted customer service representives at Verizon Wireless -- a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD) -- and AT&T.  

What I found, interestingly is that both companies offer stronger protections than Sprint.  Most importantly, both offer premium text messaging as opt-in only, unlike was Sprint does.

States AT&T:

Customers phone accounts are not automatically opted into these messages. A growing number of companies and organizations offer opt-in alerts which, like spam, are also received as messages on mobile devices. "Signing up" can be as simple as texting a code to a number to request more information, receive updates, or enter a sweepstakes. The confusion with spam occurs when subscribers either forget they have signed up for alerts or don’t know how to cancel their subscription.

States Verizon:

Verizon Wireless customers must double opt in to premium SMS programs -- meaning when they send a message to a short code, they are asked to confirm, then they are asked again if they are sure they want to opt in.  Programs must offer options for customers to opt out (for example, "quit" or "stop").  These are industry guidelines organized by the Mobile Marketing Assn.

While this is better than the lax policy I experienced at Sprint, there's still significant issues in that a malware program could in theory send the text opting in and then send the confirmation text, deleting the messages to hide its trail.

As for customers who have experienced fraud, these firms' policies are similar to what I experienced at Sprint.

States Verizon:

Customers who think they have fraudulent charges can call Customer Service to discuss credits.  Verizon Wireless also offers a premium SMS BLOCK at no charge for customer who want to opt out of all of PSMS.

States AT&T:
 
AT&T has been the industry leader in addressing the challenge of cell phone spam. They’ve has installed an aggressive "behind-the-scenes" spam-defense system with state-of-the-art network filters, virus traps and other blocking methods that have proven to be effective at screening unwanted messages. In addition, AT&T works closely with lawmakers and regulatory authorities to improve anti-spam laws -- and helps law enforcement agencies identify spammers.

Customers can also sign up for AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless to block phone calls and SMS from specific 10-digit phone numbers as an additional measure to stop unwanted calls and/or messages: http://att.com/smartlimitsforwireless" rel="nofollow ($4.99 per month/ per subscriber). Customers can also contact AT&T Customer Care for assistance with specific issues.

The latter part is a bit noteworthy as AT&T is the only company that suggested it was pursuing law enforcement action against these spammers.  Sprint and Verizon simply seemed to cast a blind eye to this type of fraud (although Verizon had better initial defenses with its double opt-in process).

Police officer
Only AT&T indicated that it reports PSMS frauders to police. [Source: iStockPhoto/Jeff Griffin]

As for whether frauders are blocked, Verizon tells me:

While I can't share any specifics on what would cause us to disable a PSMS short code, we do monitor the content providers on a regular basis to ensure they are in compliance.

And AT&T comments:

When customers notify AT&T about being charged for spam, AT&T works with them to resolve the charges. AT&T provides customers who receive SMS and MMS spam with credits to offset the charges. It’s important to note that often AT&T cannot determine if a message is subscribed or unsolicited until the customer brings it to their attention.

Additionally, customers can get more info on how to control spam by visiting: www.att.com/wireless and search "spam."

It was refreshing to see that these companies are at least trying a little harder than Sprint appeared to be.

Note: I reached out to Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA, inquiring about their policies, but they did not respond.  I also emailed Sprint's press contact, to confirm the policies that the service manager claimed to me, but received no response.

IV. What Needs to be Done

If you haven't already, I strongly suggest you call your carrier and ask them to block premium text messages to your phone.  

That's a temporary solution, albeit one that requires a bit of effort.  The real solution would be for the government -- or better yet carriers -- to ban these kind of premium texts.  A text does not cost $0.10, much less $10 and it's ridiculous to think there's virtually any sort of valid use for premium texts.

The industry should ban this type messaging.

Failing to do so is simply asking for customers to fall victim to frauders.  Again remember, premium text frauders -- on Sprint at least -- only need your number.  They don't need your permission.  And in theory even if they did need your permission (i.e. AT&T and Verizon subscribers), smart phone malware could give them that permission.

Adopting smartphone antimalware software can help prevent this.

But again, I can't emphasize enough.  Premium messaging should be banned by the industry.  It's basically asking for customers to be defrauded.


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Happened to me
By Belarios on 10/21/2011 11:01:56 AM , Rating: 6
You forgot to post the reason that carriers allow this. Because the carriers get 30-50% of the charge themselves. The carriers are making huge profits from fraudulent charges.

I had a $9.99 charge appear on my T-Mobile family plan. I searched the name on the bill and found the Florida AG was settling a fraud investigation with this same company for $600,000. The Florida AG also settled a case with AT&T where they agreed to change their policies. Florida may have the biggest problem since these companies prey on senior citizens.

Google it yourself.

This is real, and the carriers are making big bucks off of allowing 3rd parties to fraudulently claim that you requested the charge when you really didn't.




RE: Happened to me
By Belarios on 10/21/2011 11:04:10 AM , Rating: 2
Just search for "Florida Attorney General cramming".


RE: Happened to me
By JasonMick (blog) on 10/21/2011 11:05:29 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
You forgot to post the reason that carriers allow this. Because the carriers get 30-50% of the charge themselves. The carriers are making huge profits from fraudulent charges.

Thanks for the info, I was unaware of this.

It's absolutely critical to try to put this as far out in the public eye as possible because this stinks like a rat, and sure seems like one.

It'd be kind of like if all the ISPs started accepting payoffs from spammers and then began taking more liberal stances in allowing spam email.

If carriers are indeed complicit in defrauding customers, then -- and only then -- the government should step in, in my opinion.


RE: Happened to me
By tekzor on 10/21/2011 12:53:22 PM , Rating: 2
This happened to me on verizon. I notice my monthly bill was $10 higher. Called up the rep and got the charge immediately "credited" and the number blocked. No questions asked.


RE: Happened to me
By Samus on 10/22/2011 2:07:12 AM , Rating: 1
Happened to me on US Cellular over a year ago. A little bit of bitching got the charges reversed. They claim I signed up for the service.

I've never texted any company, signed up for any services or "promotions", not even snapped a QR tag. So how they got on there is beyond me...

It definitely seems more rampant with the smaller carriers, though, presumably because they get a significant cut, and need the income when competing with AT&T.


RE: Happened to me
By TheRequiem on 10/21/11, Rating: -1
RE: Happened to me
By Camikazi on 10/21/2011 5:51:33 PM , Rating: 2
Any premium paid for service that is separate from the monthly billing charge for the line should ALWAYS be blocked unless specifically asked by the custom to be allowed. By not only allowing them, but also letting them be activated WITHOUT the customers direct consent is fraud on Sprints part. The fact that Sprint will refund the money makes no difference, the fact they they allow this to knowingly happen is the problem and the fact they they get a cut from it is the fraud.


RE: Happened to me
By rudy on 10/24/2011 12:55:55 AM , Rating: 2
This is false the entire point of post paid customers is that they do not want to have any limits should they need to use it. And the game with post paid has always been over charges, and I mean always and still is. What you are suggesting is the opposite you want a prepaid phone where you have limits in service up front and should you need more service you will need to go buy it or enable it.

I also know of people who have complained about this on almost every carrier so I think the title itself is misleading because it suggest sprint is the only company doing this. I know people who were hit on verizon. Back in the old days of 900 numbers you were just screwed but sprint and other companies now days are all in every case I know of removing the charges and disabling the service at the request of the customer.


RE: Happened to me
By lyeoh on 10/26/2011 10:28:39 AM , Rating: 2
Seems closer to theft than fraud. But I guess the courts will treat it as fraud.

It's not the same as spam email because you get charged USD9.99 for each message.

So how do telcos keep getting away with aiding and abetting a crime, while Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc may soon be liable for infringment by their users?
http://www.techworld.com.au/article/405288/group_n...

So _stealing_ from the small guy is OK but copying stuff from the **AA isn't?


RE: Happened to me
By guffwd13 on 10/21/2011 12:57:51 PM , Rating: 2
Woah... is that new?? A green bar and level 6? Been here almost everyday for 5+ years and have never seen that.... Is it a special editor bump?


RE: Happened to me
By leexgx on 10/21/2011 1:17:56 PM , Rating: 2
I have seen it before, you get some times when your giving good info or very good post (getting green/6 is rare thought)


RE: Happened to me
By StevoLincolnite on 10/23/2011 12:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
I've gotten a 6/green only once since 2006.

They used to be allot more common.


RE: Happened to me
By grandpope on 10/21/2011 1:20:04 PM , Rating: 2
I too have seen this happen before. Previously, the +6 is only handed out by the founder of DT, Kristopher Kubicki.

I dunno if this is still the case, as I understand he is less involved these days.


RE: Happened to me
By Camikazi on 10/21/2011 5:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
I think any mod can give a 6 now but they don't do it often. I've seen maybe 3 since I started reading articles here.


RE: Happened to me
By The Raven on 10/21/2011 1:30:09 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Because the carriers get 30-50% of the charge themselves.
Do you expect them to do it for free?

I actually do since I think the whole text message (SMS, not just PSMS) scheme (across all providers) is a scam. But this question needs to be asked before you come up with some comspiracy theory that Sprint is behind this all.


RE: Happened to me
By The Raven on 10/21/2011 1:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
comspiracy
= Communications Conspiracy ;-) Whew!


RE: Happened to me
By NellyFromMA on 10/21/2011 2:02:24 PM , Rating: 2
This happened to me also. After 2 months of Sprint telling me I would no longer receive the messages, only to continue receiving them, finally they claimed they could do nothing about it.

I had been pretty upset at this point and told them I would be be terminating service and refuse to pay the fees. Today it sits on my credit report negatively.

This was about 2 years ago. Eh, I guess 5 more to go til my credit looks a little better... lame.


RE: Happened to me
By fic2 on 10/21/2011 3:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
You should add a note to your credit report about why you have a negative report from Sprint and how they tried to defraud you. You could also dispute the claim.


RE: Happened to me
By The Raven on 10/21/2011 4:32:41 PM , Rating: 2
I would also recommend that you go prepaid in the future. There is no risk of such thing happening and there is certainly no way they can touch your credit report.


RE: Happened to me
By sleepeeg3 on 10/23/2011 11:29:47 PM , Rating: 2
AT&T's response = BS!

Same thing happened to me under AT&T. About once a month I started randomly receiving messages from a company called FoneSocial. I ignored it as spam. There was never any charge mentioned. Finally, one month my bill seemed abnormally high. The bill is not under data, not under messaging, but under it's own category.

I never signed up for anything, never downloaded any suspicious apps, yet I was magically being charged $9.99/month.

Called AT&T and the rep said, "No problem, I have credited your account for January, December & November. Is there anything else I can help you with, Mr. X?"

Except this charge went back to October - the clever girl was trying to pull a fast one.

I asked to talk to her supervisor and magically she came back, apologized to me and credited me an extra $20. All was peachy.

However, when I recently went to cancel my wireless account, I discovered I was magically under a contract and they wanted me to pay an early termination fee! The contract started around the time that I first started receiving those FoneSocial messages. Either the rep's activity or the spammer triggered this.

Either way, beware the telephone companies and their premium messages. Makes sense that they receive a credit from them. Thanks for the research, Mick.


What?
By Dr of crap on 10/21/2011 10:40:08 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe I'm missig something, but why do the cell providers even allow these spammers to charge $10? When that request comes into them that's when they say no way unless the user gave the OK.

You see the problem I asking right? Why would Sprint get the request from the spammer to bill the user $10 and just do it? That amount should throw up a red flag and need investaging or approval by calling and asking the user!




RE: What?
By JasonMick (blog) on 10/21/2011 10:50:03 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Maybe I'm missig something, but why do the cell providers even allow these spammers to charge $10? When that request comes into them that's when they say no way unless the user gave the OK.

You see the problem I asking right? Why would Sprint get the request from the spammer to bill the user $10 and just do it? That amount should throw up a red flag and need investaging or approval by calling and asking the user!

Absolutely... it's utterly dumbfounding that they would allow this kind of fraud.

You want to charge my customer $10 with no questions asked? Oh, okay sure no problem.

The service rep was literally defending this "company" (Mobsetter IQ) saying that probably a lot of customers wanted this service. Yea right, I bet. Probably a lot of customers not realizing they're getting scammed, more likely.

At that point I am pretty appalled at their wanton and willful negligence.


RE: What?
By bigdawg1988 on 10/21/2011 11:21:18 AM , Rating: 2
Well you didn't think you were getting that cheap unlimited data for nothing, did you? /jk
But seriously, this may be Sprint's way of evening things up, revenue wise. You have exposed them and now they're coming for you. Run Jason, run!!

Mob setterIQ, really? They just don't even try to hide it anymore.


RE: What?
By TheRequiem on 10/21/11, Rating: 0
0012063373269
By Nakecat on 10/21/2011 11:11:33 AM , Rating: 5
I just started getting phone call from 0012063373269 mon ~ fri, everyday at around 4pm. After a little digging, i found out it's a telemarketing company that is trying to hide itself as international call to avoid the Do No Call List and to scam people. The call is route back to the state and you will get charge as international rate.

I called my provide(t-mobile) and their answer to me is no, they can not block a call, especially it's international call.

Interestingly, the rep offer me an Option , i can pay 4 dollar extra per month to sign on their family safety feature, i can put the number in and block it.
She even assure me, "don't worry about it. it's only 12 cent a day"...

i don't really know what to say...




RE: 0012063373269
By bigdawg1988 on 10/21/2011 11:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
i don't really know what to say...

Oh, I could think of a lot of things you can say, unfortunately most come from the Dolemite book of quotations, and as such, are not printable except on adult websites.


RE: 0012063373269
By ShaolinSoccer on 10/21/2011 1:21:57 PM , Rating: 2
Aren't there free apps for blocking phone numbers and text messages from certain people? I haven't tried one yet but I'm sure there are.


Found these scammers
By adiposity on 10/21/2011 12:26:16 PM , Rating: 5
The scammers are located at:

mobsetter.com

Where you can sign up. Apparently it requires your pin number to sign up (I used an invalid number to test).

I looked up their 800 number and found the following:

It is the same number as used by this law firm:

http://www.jpharrisassociates.com/

Both the web hosting company and this law firm are located in Pennsylvania. They do "tax collection." Here is their whois info:

Harris, Kathy edd@eddpc.com
J.P. HARRIS Associates, LLC
P.O. Box 226
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
United States
18667660226 Fax --

Feel free to chime in with more info about these idiots.




RE: Found these scammers
By adiposity on 10/21/2011 12:31:44 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot to say, the mob setter.com whois data is private, so no good info there.


Sprint has always been corrupt
By MartyLK on 10/23/2011 11:38:22 PM , Rating: 2
Your first mistake was subscribing with Sprint to begin with. Sprint has always been corrupt like this. They used to be much worse than what they are now and it almost knocked them out of business. Read up on the history of Sprint. You'll likely be flabbergasted at what you find and how you could ever involve yourself with Sprint.




RE: Sprint has always been corrupt
By Dr of crap on 10/24/2011 10:04:32 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry - you are the exception.
I've been with Sprint for over 10 years.
NO problems so far!


RE: Sprint has always been corrupt
By MartyLK on 10/24/2011 5:02:59 PM , Rating: 1
And you must work for Sprint. It would not be above Sprint doing something like that.


RE: Sprint has always been corrupt
By fearrun on 10/25/2011 3:15:28 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I can confirm that all Sprint customers that have been with us for several years or more without having any issues recorded under their accounts have been hired as employees and encouraged to troll forums with their biased opinions.

/sarcasm


A possible legitimate use
By deathwombat on 10/21/2011 1:24:49 PM , Rating: 3
OC Transpo buses throughout Canada's capital region have ads for a homeless shelter that say, "Feed a homeless person right now!". The ad provides a number to send a text to and says that the mission will get $10 every time you text them.

I thought, how convenient! We all feel charitable at times, but most of us are too lazy to physically go somewhere to donate money, or search for an envelope and a stamp to mail a check, or even to go online and make a payment through PayPal or online banking. This lets you whip out your phone, dial a few numbers, and instantly send $10 to provide food and shelter to someone in need.

So yes, I can definitely see that no one would pay $10 for a tidbit of trivia (and who doesn't know why flamingoes are pink?), but it looks like at least one charity grabbed onto the idea. $10 is probably the smallest donation that would be meaningful. It's a shame, really, because I can see a positive application for PSMS, but the potential for abuse is so massive that it probably does need to be shut down.




I'm sure Sprint loves this article
By masamasa on 10/21/2011 11:04:36 AM , Rating: 2
Well done!




By nafhan on 10/21/2011 11:14:50 AM , Rating: 2
Something that I may have missed, but don't think you mentioned in the article: the cell phone companies actually get a cut of these payments. So, every time you got charged $10 bucks, not only was the Russian scammer getting some money, but so was Sprint. So, it's in their best interest to allow these charges to continue.

On Verizon, it is possible to completely turn off the ability to have things charged to your phone bill. I would recommend that EVERYONE do this. I would hope the other major carriers allow this as well. I find it ridiculous that they don't make this opt in rather than opt out.




By EyesWideOpen on 10/21/2011 11:27:59 AM , Rating: 2
These Fraudsters are using the fact that large corporate phone administrators don’t check bills on a regular basis for unusual charges; they just pay the bills. If they had send 3 or 4 of these premium text messages then that would be noticed, and then action would be taken. By keeping it low intensity it just gets lost in the noise of hidden service charges. When an individual gets this tacked on to their bill it will get noticed as they manage their account with greater scrutiny. As for the carriers involvement, “Yes and No”, it’s all about profits; but they don’t want churn. It sort of like, if no one complains then there isn’t a problem. The author is correct, complain if you see something like this.




90's throwback
By senbassador on 10/21/2011 12:24:31 PM , Rating: 2
What you've just described seems a bit like throwback to the early to mid 90's when slamming/cramming was pretty common, and sort of just disappeared when the FTC/FCC started getting involved. I thought we were past that once and for all when cell phones started replacing landlines, but I guess not.




AT&T
By dgingerich on 10/21/2011 1:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
While AT&T is annoying with their charges for tethering, outrageous charges for many features, ($7/month for insurance?? Really??) and blocking software upgrades for their phones to keep free tethering off, it is nice to know that they're keeping the fraudsters out. Well, at least the ones that don't work for them.




This article ticks me off.
By MagicSquid on 10/21/2011 1:38:53 PM , Rating: 2
To imply, and show some evidence that a major corporation is privy to evidence of fraudulent action against its own customers and is intentionally doing nothing about it because they find it more profitable to not take action REALLY irritates me.

The implications of this are severe: Sprint is assisting fraudsters in defrauding Sprint's own customers. The DT user's posts further support Mr. Mick's claims, this seems to be a widespread scam that Sprint is unwittingly or possibly knowingly assisting.

Do I smell a class action lawsuit in the works? I sure hope so.

This may well be my favorite article you've ever written, Jason Mick!




Why the hate on Sprint?
By The Raven on 10/21/2011 1:48:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Signing up" can be as simple as texting a code to a number to request more information, receive updates, or enter a sweepstakes. The confusion with spam occurs when subscribers either forget they have signed up for alerts or don’t know how to cancel their subscription.
I don't know how you KNOW, given this statement from ATT (not Sprint) that you didn't sign up. You don't explain that. Have you been voting on American Idol or signed up to win the car at the mall, etc.?

If Sprint is doing this, I would ask them where the authorization that is required is at? They should've gotten some communication that they should still have on file. If they don't have it you don't pay.

On the other hand, my grandparents were signed up for some $40 AOL dialup that they didn't even use. It was billed through ATT (their normal landline service provider) because they allegedly gave permission to AOL (and there was also some credit protection crap on there too from a different company). ATT said that they (by law) are required to keep this avenue of payment open. It is supposedly for people who don't have credit but need to pay the gas man or whatever (from what I recall. It was years ago). I'm sorry but there is no way that this avenue of payment is needed and should be against the law. If fact, left alone I would think that the phone companies would shut it off because of the complaints, hassles and distrust of customers that it brings. But the gov't requires such a payment method from what ATT told me.

Don't get me wrong, I am very sympathetic (with the exception of you not noticing the charge) but these questions need to be answered before I take my business from Sprint's Boost and head to Virgin.




Better response
By The Raven on 10/21/2011 4:39:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The rep asked, "Have you ever signed up for this service?"
"Should you have to ask me that? Isn't there a record at Sprint of me doing such a thing? If not, please remove the charges post-haste."




T Mobile...
By cooperaaaron on 10/21/2011 6:35:11 PM , Rating: 2
has this spamming issue too!!!




By abhaxus on 10/21/2011 7:43:02 PM , Rating: 2
The way I see it, premium sms is turned on with every carrier. If it wasn't, red cross campaigns for disaster relief would not have access to easy fundraising. When they say opt-in in the sprint policy, they are referring to the fact that the subscriber has to request each individual charged message. What I see here is that you got a poorly trained c s rep on the phone. Most know what these charges are and remove them and block future charges easily. You can have this experience with any carrier in my opinion.




Poor Jason...
By croc on 10/21/2011 11:39:44 PM , Rating: 2
You got caught out, eh? Do you remember, quite a whole ago now, an act passed by your Congress, called the CAN-SPAM act? And do you remember, even further back, when the USA had the cheapest text msgs? (One way, anyway, as in most of the rest of the world the sender pays the lot...)

So, combine greedy carriers and greedy congress-people, and...




Verizon
By Ben on 10/22/2011 7:12:13 AM , Rating: 2
One thing Verizon doesn't tell you is that you can only block legitimate numbers from texting you.

For example, if you are getting a daily horoscope from "446-362" or spam from "948-10", their call or SMS block will not accept the number.

BTW, I used the actual numbers spamming me.




This editorial is full of stupidity
By rudy on 10/24/2011 1:04:08 AM , Rating: 2
The government should ban these texts? If the government was going to do that they would have banned 900 number years ago.

The information in the text or service is what someone is paying for not the text itself. It does not cost more than a penny to serve someone a web page but that does not stop various web pages from charge subscriptions.

I agree sprint should implement stronger guidelines for making sure the customer wanted the premium service as a CS move but disabling by default is not what prepaid is about, and asking the government or others to out right ban the practice is strait up communisms or something apple would do.




By keithxp on 10/24/2011 5:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
I experienced the same thing with my FIOS bill a while back. I don't remember much of the details but Verizon allows third party billing onto your Internet bill which, for me, added $10/month. Sadly it was the result of some unnecessary clicking from a member of my household but it did make me wonder why they would even allow such a thing.




By garagetinkerer on 10/24/2011 6:40:07 PM , Rating: 2
I started my career with BPO's. Most of the billing systems are problematic, in that the bill generation means, bill is sent. cheque payments may reflect late... and a host of other issues. What happens as a result is that the customer is penalized in the form of late fees etc. Worst case scenario if you're living in UK/ US etc... you're credit is screwed over by these simians.

Honestly, companies need to modify their billing systems... most wouldn't as that allows them to make a little more money than they would otherwise.




I have Sprint service
By cubby1223 on 10/21/11, Rating: -1
RE: I have Sprint service
By JasonMick (blog) on 10/21/2011 10:36:03 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Have never requested out of anything. And have never received text messages of this sort.

This whole "news" article smells a little too "fishy" to me.

Seriously

Sounds to me like there was a miscommunication on the phone between our resident DT complainer, and Sprint. And one decided to take his anger out to the internet.

Sounds like you're living in denial.

Seriously, I wrote exactly what Sprint's service representative communicated to me.

I did not opt into this service, but that didn't stop Sprint from allowing it to bill me. The same thing is surely happening to other customers as well.

Given the reports of Android malware using premium text messages, I assume that one of the apps I installed somehow data mined my number and used in spamming.

Regardless, Sprint should be doing more to stop this.

If anything I've been accused of being too positive/glowing about Sprint's service in the past, so your comments are totally off base. Just because you like a carrier doesn't mean you have to play the ostrich like you seem to be doing, burying your head in the sand when it comes to a serious issue.

Turning a blind eye to this kind of fraud is simply unacceptable, I don't care how many excuses you make on Sprint's behalf.


RE: I have Sprint service
By userengel on 10/21/2011 10:54:51 AM , Rating: 2
This same thing happened to my sister about 8 months ago, also on Sprint. She never figured out how she got signed up for the service in the first place.


RE: I have Sprint service
By nafhan on 10/21/2011 11:16:35 AM , Rating: 3
Gotta' love the "it-didn't-happen-to-me-so-you're-wrong" logic...


RE: I have Sprint service
By abscode on 10/21/2011 10:45:13 AM , Rating: 5
Guess what. Giraffes have long necks because their heads are so far from their shoulders. May I have your mobile number please?


RE: I have Sprint service
By adiposity on 10/21/2011 12:29:48 PM , Rating: 2
6 please.


RE: I have Sprint service
By bigboxes on 10/24/2011 5:02:05 PM , Rating: 2
6 indeed. :)


RE: I have Sprint service
By Meinolf on 10/21/2011 11:06:43 AM , Rating: 1
My mom is on my cell plan with Sprint and this just happened to her I had to call and ban the messages and get a refund. Ok my mom has a flip phone and can't even text and she got the charges because it was sent to her phone. Sprint better change there opt-in crap because untech-savvy people like my mom will be victims.


RE: I have Sprint service
By ShangoY on 10/21/2011 11:09:13 AM , Rating: 1
You obviously have never done a reverse lookup on the internet for phone numbers then. All the text spammer has to do is reverse lookup his list of phone numbers that he gets from whatever site, or just go one by one through iterating them, and can get a general idea if the person is on sprint or not. And spam away. The OP wasn't saying every sprint customer gets them, he is saying those that do get automatically opted in.

Why don't you READ the article, and READ what Sprint replied, before you post some nonsensical drivel yourself.


RE: I have Sprint service
By kmmatney on 10/21/2011 11:33:03 AM , Rating: 1
This one deserves a -2


RE: I have Sprint service
By adiposity on 10/21/2011 12:04:45 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Have never requested out of anything. And have never received text messages of this sort.

This whole "news" article smells a little too "fishy" to me. Seriously

Sounds to me like there was a miscommunication on the phone between our resident DT complainer, and Sprint. And one decided to take his anger out to the internet.


You are an idiot. While it's true we will never know if Jason signed up for Mobsetter IQ, I think we can safely assume he had no intention of ever paying $10 for any text, unless it contained tomorrow's closing stock prices.

You're right that it smells "fishy," but not for the reasons you imply. How can you prove you didn't sign up for something? Apparently all they need is your cell number--no signature, no account no., nothing! So what's to prevent fraud?

These sorts of services should be opt-in, only through the carriers website (or via password auth on your phone), and require individual authorization for each $10 "service" you want.

The only way they could EVER get away with charging $10 per text is by fooling customers, or just plain fraud. Either way, it's a garbage service that is just an excuse to overcharge for 0 value!


RE: I have Sprint service
By ShaolinSoccer on 10/21/2011 1:25:56 PM , Rating: 1
@cubby1223

I'm on Sprint and this happened to me. Had to call them to remove the $10 charge. I never opted into anything, either.


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