Protect yourself from Premium SMS Text Message Scams

Scammers may be now targeting you via your mobile devices.
March 20, 2017

Person using a phone

Honolulu, HI – March 10, 2017: Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau wants to warn consumers to avoid falling victim to premium charges via SMS text message scams. From daily jokes to trivia questions, scammers can sign a victim up for various sorts of premium text subscriptions with nothing more than a person’s number and name. The sign-up process requires no credit card information; all charges are applied directly to a victim’s phone bill. Adding of fraudulent charges to a phone bill is a technique called “cramming.” 

Consumers receive a notification that they have been signed up for this service via a text message which typically states the service and the fee rate. The service and text messages can only be stopped by the victim replying “STOP” to the message. Victims may also call their provider to stop the charges. 

To avoid falling victim to this scam consumers can – 

Turn on Premium SMS Message Blocking: Many cell phone providers offer customers the option of blocking all Premium SMS Messages. This option can be accessed via a customer’s online account or by calling customer service. One downfall to this option is, if a person would like to subscribe to any premium SMS messages on their own, they will no longer be able to. 

Add their Number to a Do Not Call List: Placing your number on a do not call or do not solicit registry may not block all potential scams, but it will help limit them. U.S. residents can place their name on a do not call list at

Reply Stop / Call their Service Provider: If a victim receives a notification that they have been signed up for a subscription which they did not consent to they can reply “STOP.” They should then follow up with a call to their service provider to verify that the charges are removed, and the subscription ended. 

Consumers can check the BBB Scam Tracker to find out more about the latest scams affecting Hawaii. 

ABOUT BBB: For more than 70 years, Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.