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Level 1: Joiner
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎16-09-2016

Premium SMS scam

Bit of a rant incoming... 

 

A few days ago after visiting a site on my phone I was confronted with a barrage of pop-up ads which were swiftly closed. I then received the following SMS messages: 

 

Sender: Receipt

Message: FreeMsg: Thank you for subscribing to globalcams.world for £4.50 a week until you text STOP to 83463. HELP? 03300538665 

 

Sender: FreeMsg

Message: FreeMsg: Watch cams here http://source.globalcams.world/globalcams.php 

 

I, of course, text STOP to 83463. However, it was too late and I had already been charged the stated £4.50. 

 

I rang the number today and was told that I would not be charged again but as "the service was activated from the handset" they would not refund the charge. They repeated this over and over again when I pressed them for a refund. 

 

I spoke to o2 customer services who agreed to apply a credit to my account as a goodwill gesture. However, they said they were unable to reverse the charge or block any premium rate incoming SMS messages - they can only bar outgoing premium calls/messages. 

 

Two things about this absolutely stagger me: 

- o2 have clearly provided the means for this to happen. The only way a website would have been able to obtain my phone number is if o2 supplied it. I'm very interested in the technical side of this if anyone has any details? As far as I can tell o2 don't send any extra HTTP headers to all websites with any idetifying information. Perhaps just to pre-approved 'billing gateways'? However they have clearly arranged something with the company that scammed me using such 'dark patterns'. 

 

- There is apparently no way to block these charges. This is a lie - the network operators could easily block these charges if they want to. If I reported my debit card as lost to my bank, they would deny any attempted charges to it. Network operators could easily do this if they wanted to. 

 

One amusing thing to me is the actual content of the 'service' I apparently subscribed to for £4.50 a week. If you take a look it's just a bunch of embedded YouTube live streams i.e. absolutely nothing of value! 

 

Anonymous
Posts: 0

Re: Premium SMS scam

Hi @andysmith1 if you click on any external links & you are charged it’s not o2’s problem. You will need to contact the company charging you. Read this guide

 

https://community.o2.co.uk/t5/Pay-Monthly-Pay-and-Go/Have-you-fallen-for-or-been-conned-into-a-premi...

Level 1: Joiner
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎16-09-2016

Re: Premium SMS scam

If o2 cared about their customers it should be their problem. I was tricked by misdirection into clicking a link. o2 provided the means for them to bill me. Do you think that's fair? 

Anonymous
Posts: 0

Re: Premium SMS scam

It’s not fair I agree but it’s the way these things have to be dealt with I’m afraid 

Posts: 75,182
Topics: 695
Registered: ‎14-01-2013

Re: Premium SMS scam

@andysmith1It's not really a question of fairness and really has nothing to do with O2. Many people want access to these premium rate services and sign up for them willingly. O2 aren't to know that you don't actually want them. However... follow the advice above and hopefully you will get money refunded .

*The Game Is On*


Level 1: Joiner
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎16-09-2016

Re: Premium SMS scam

As stated in my original post o2 are refunding me as a goodwill gesture. 

 

But I'm still angry about the situation. I'm sure there's thousands of other people who have fallen prey to a scam like this. A scam that could very easily be eliminated by network operators by requiring a more explicit agreement on the user's side e.g. actually sending an SMS message to confirm acceptance of the charges. 

 

The ability to block any premium rate services is also completely do-able from their end, they just choose not to offer it. 

 

Posts: 75,182
Topics: 695
Registered: ‎14-01-2013

Re: Premium SMS scam

Totally agree with that @andysmith1 It should be easy enough to implement a 2 step verification system...

*The Game Is On*


Posts: 89,269
Topics: 536
Registered: ‎04-04-2012

Re: Premium SMS scam

I would still report them to the PSA for refusing to refund you.
They are obliged to do so under the terms of their license so the PSA need to know about this.
"Globalcams" is far too close to "Globalscams" for my liking too!
I have no affiliation whatsoever with O2 or any subsidiary companies. Comments posted are entirely of my own opinion. This is not Customer Service so we are unable to help with account specific issues.

Currently using:
OnePlus 6 (O2 & Sfr), Z3 Tablet (Three UK), iPhone7 (EE)
Posts: 89,269
Topics: 536
Registered: ‎04-04-2012

Re: Premium SMS scam


@Cleoriff wrote:

Totally agree with that @andysmith1 It should be easy enough to implement a 2 step verification system...


Which is what we have been saying for a long time on here, but clearly neither O2, nor any other network is prepared to implement this.

I have no affiliation whatsoever with O2 or any subsidiary companies. Comments posted are entirely of my own opinion. This is not Customer Service so we are unable to help with account specific issues.

Currently using:
OnePlus 6 (O2 & Sfr), Z3 Tablet (Three UK), iPhone7 (EE)
Level 1: Joiner
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎16-09-2016

Re: Premium SMS scam

Yes, I have reported them to the PSA. 

 

One thing that really concerns me about this is the privacy implications. o2 have obviously supplied my mobile number to this website in order for them to charge me. That's not something I agreed to and surely I should be able to opt out of this?

 

I'm guessing what happened is something like this: 

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/25/o2_hands_out_phone_numbers_to_websites/ 

 

Do o2 have a whitelist of sites that they still hand over this information to for billing purposes? I'd really like some clatification from o2 on this.