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Sprint and Verizon to pay $158 million over bogus texting charges

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No, Sprint and Verizon* aren't going to escape the FCC's bid to punish carriers for letting shady text message services bill their customers. The two providers are respectively paying $68 million and $90 million to settle FCC claims that they not only turned a blind eye to this bill cramming, but frequently denied refunds when subscribers complained. About $120 million of this total payout will compensate victims, while the rest will go to both state governments and the US Treasury.

As with the AT&T and T-Mobile settlements, the networks also have to make some promises. They're no longer allowed to offer third-party premium text messaging charges, and they have to get explicit permission when they allow any kind of third-party charges. They'll have to give you a way to block all third-party charges, too. Sprint and Verizon both insist that they were diligent about helping people well before the FCC took action, but this move holds their feet to the fire -- they have to assist everyone who was affected, not just those who already made the cut.

[Image credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo]

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