Found a third party charge on your phone bill?

What is a third-party mobile charge?

These can be any charges made to your phone bill made by someone that is not your phone company. These third-party charges can cover many legitimate charges that people do want; charity donations, digital content or even voting for your favourite contestant on the X Factor!

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Why do I need to worry?

There are some fraudulent companies capitalising on these third-party charges. If you have seen some strange charges on your bill that you did not agree to, you’re not alone – thousands of people are affected, on all different networks. These charges can sometimes originate from a pop-up that you have tried to click away from and maybe just caught the edge of it with a finger. This then often prompts a text which will detail a service that you need to click and unsubscribe yourself. A lot of people then don’t click on this link, believing it to be a spam or fraudulent link, not realising the connection between the pop-up that was dismissed (or attempted to be dismissed).

However, many people do end up paying the cost in the long run. BBC’s Watchdog found one such person who had ended up paying for a fitness app, which they had not wanted to sign up to. The user had received texts about the subscription but believed these to be spam. Little did they know that by ignoring these texts then the fraudulent company in question was continuing to be authorised to make charges to their phone account. If you see these strange charges on your bill, your best point of contact is to call your phone company and ask them to investigate. In some cases, the company can then place a block on the queried charge to then prevent more charges being taken.

How do I safeguard myself for the future?

You can ask your phone company to disable third party charges on your account. This means that whilst you won’t be able to vote for your favourite act on a talent show, or make a charity donation via text, you will be protected from future attacks. In the instances of using your phone to make reputable third-party charges, most of these can be done via a website or telephone number.

Some phone companies also have a Charge Checker, such as EE,  where you can check the authenticity of a charge made against your bill using an number which is 3 to 9 digits long.

To keep yourself safe, try and avoid clicking on any pop-ups, or install an anti-malware product such as Malwarebytes (iOS/Android).

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[Image by Alex Martinez via Unsplash]

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