Many people have reported mysterious mobile phone charges that appeared on their monthly bills. They only realise they’ve been signed up to a service like a gaming or fitness app, at a cost of several pounds a week, when they check their bills. Some of them didn’t notice the payments for months or years.
Phone paid services often use pop ups that appear, for example when the consumer is watching a video on the internet. The consumer will click a button that says something like ‘subscribe now’, then another button that says something like ‘confirm’.
The Phone-Paid Services Authority (PSA) state that a minimum of two clicks are required in order to subscribe to a phone paid service.
Regulations also require that the subscription is confirmed via email or text. Some people say they were sent a text- but thought it was a spam message as they hadn’t signed up to any service.
The scams work through so-called direct carrier billing, a system operated by the four major networks – O2, Vodafone, EE and Three – that allows consumers to purchase goods or services on their mobiles at the click of a button without entering any card details.
The PSA’s own annual review showed that around a third of the 22.5 million people who used the system in the last year had lost trust in the service.
An estimated £220m was paid for services through phone bills last year and the amount is expected to grow by 26 per cent a year.
How to Block These Charges
You can tell your operator that you want a “charge-to-bill bar” placed on your account. You may already have a “premium-rate services” bar but that does not stop these charges.
Mobile operators Three and GiffGaff do not allow customers to bar charge-to-bill so if you are with those providers you should be extra vigilant for pop-ups online that mention signing up to any kind of service and for any signs of charges on your mobile bills.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.