Sprint and Verizon settle SMS lawsuit

One aspect of text message marketing that is important for companies to consider is how to maximize opt-ins for their campaign. Building a solid partnership with a provider is critical to understand all the relevant regulations that govern this industry. A recent settlement shows even wireless carriers themselves must be aware of industry best practices.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it had reached a settlement in their lawsuit against the wireless carriers Verizon and Sprint for unauthorized charges on customer's bills. Of the total $158 million, Verizon will pay $90 million and Sprint $68 million.

The FCC has now reached settlements with the four major U.S. carriers for cramming, with AT&T previously paying $105 million and T-Mobile $90 million.

The fees resulted from premium text messaging services, which would charge a customer's bill without informing the customer of the charge. Carriers would then keep a percentage of the charge.

Though the carriers stopped this practice several years ago, they will no longer be able to charge customers for these services. Under the terms of the settlement, they will have to implement systems to ensure they obtain and retain the customer's consent before going ahead with the bill charges.

The bulk of the settlement will go towards refunding customers. At least $70 million of Verizon's settlement and $50 million of Sprint's will be paid back to customers. They will then pay U.S. Treasury fines of $4 million and $6 million, respectively. The remainder of the settlement will be issued to state governments.

"Consumers rightfully expect their monthly phone bills will reflect only those services that they've purchased," Travis LeBlanc, the FCC Enforcement Bureau chief, says in a statement. "Today's settlements put in place strong protections that will prevent consumers from being victimized by these kinds of practices in the future."

 Properly obtaining a customer's consent through opt-ins is the best way to commence a bulk SMS service. Swift SMS Gateway can help guide you through this process by creating a text marking strategy that focuses on targeted advertising.