Consumer protectionMobile phone subscribers are not adequately protected against third party offers abuse

This week, the market watchdog of the digital world of the Consumer Association Schleswig-Holstein presented its research results on third-party problems in the German telecommunications market. It showed that consumers are not adequately protected against unintentionally concluded third-party contracts. In addition to analyzing consumer complaints received at the consumer advice center, a representative survey with 1,517 German-speaking mobile users was conducted by the forsa institute in August 2016.

These are the key insights:

  • Almost two-thirds of respondents reported unsolicited or unintentionally completed third-party services for which corresponding costs were debited on their telephone invoice.
  • Contracts with suppliers of certain gaming apps represent an example. How these third-party contracts are concluded, however, is often unclear to consumers.
  • The market watchdog identified the so-called Clickjacking method as one possible cause. That is, whenever you click on an advertising banner to close it on your smart phone, a third-party contract is planted simultaneously and unnoticed.
  • The redirect procedure introduced in 2016 aims to serve as a protection mechanism through an automatic redirection to a payment page, which informs consumers about the third-party subscription. However, this method has not yet been used extensively for all services and does not solve all the problems completely.
  • Furthermore, prepaid customers, in contrast to postpaid customers, are additionally disadvantaged, since they are neither entitled to an invoice nor to an individual connection proof. Hence, they cannot detect any improper billing in their invoice.

Source: Watchdog of the digital world

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