Watch out for premium SMS frauds - they’re endemic

AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile say they’re no longer going to put up with having to deal with fraudulent SMS charges which, they claim, bogs them down in customer care complaints, infuriates their bill-shocked customers and ensures that the regulatory authorities are on their backs.

So, despite the big operators being in line to ‘lose’ up to $2 billion per year - their share of the organised fraud - they’ve announced that they’re no longer going to run the SMS premium service which, it seems, is so prone to fraud that nothing can be done to stop it.

The fraud is called ‘cramming’ which is the art of falsely assigning unauthorised premium SMSs to customers bills. In many/most cases the crammers are clever enough to make the false SMS premiums small and irregular enough for the customer not to notice.

But some recent research into the problem in the US state of Vermont showed that a full 60 per cent of SMS charges were fraudulent.

It beggars belief that the telcos themselves wouldn’t have known that widespread fraud was ocurring - don’t they track and analyse their customer complaints? Of course they do. And what did they conclude when they discovered that say, 40 per cent of premium SMSs were fraudulent. Was 40 per cent not enough to worry about? When it reached 50 per cent? Was it still just a minor problem - no action should be taken yet.

No, apparently a full 60 per cent of SMSs must be fraudulent before the telcos are prepared to do anything, and even then only after it had been unearthed by a third party.

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