For years, thousands of Italians have been paying for unsolicited services on their mobile phones: at one time they had to at least click on malicious banners, now you just need to access a web page.
The mobile scam of unsolicited paid services, with the recent investigation by the Milan prosecutor, represents one of the blackest chapters in the history of Italian telecommunications. Much more serious than that of the phantom SIMs of the period 2001 – 2008, because at this round of waltz we are faced with a well-known phenomenon that is repeated cyclically.
In practice it is with the inauguration of the season of premium services – also called VAS (value addes services) – that for years consumers have stumbled in unwanted activations. Whether it's games, horoscopes, news, music or ringtones, the substance does not change. If at one time an inadvertent click on a banner was required, now it is sufficient to access a malicious web page to trigger the charges.
- THE FACTS
- THE MODUS OPERANDI
- THE AGCOM CODE OF CONDUCT
- WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT OF UNWANTED SUBSCRIPTIONS?
"I realized that on my phone manager bill, the only time I checked it, on a Sunday while I was at the playground with the dog, I paid 20 euros a month for games with a charge to offshore companies", explained the Prosecutor of the Republic of Milan, Francesco Greco during the press conference of July 3 on investigations related to telephone scams."So I phoned and after an hour of trying to talk to someone, I finally understood … the boy said 'she should insert the block'; the only consolation of these operations is that they are democratic and can affect the public prosecutor, an old man or any person".
As we reported on FreeTechTips in early July, the investigation led to fraud investigations against 11 people, as well as searches and seizures at WindTre's registered office. Nevertheless, the Prosecutor's Office delivered a letter to the Guarantor for Communications in relation to the position of Vodafone, Tim and another company, which according to the advances of the Corriere della Sera, it could be Pure Bros.
In practice, an illegal turnover of millions of euros based on "premium additional services unduly activated for Wind and Vodafone users"as Greco pointed out."But practiced in the same way by other operators". The number of victims has not been revealed, however we are talking about both traditional SIM and M2M SIM (machine-to-machine), that is those used by devices such as lifts, burglar alarms, boilers, etc. In the latter case it seems that a sort of self-activation probably occurred remotely.
The Corriere della Sera he reconstructed the scenario that hides behind the VAS. There are three key subjects, to understand the responsibilities and whether or not there have been connivances: the service content providers (csp) who make and sell the products, the operators who load the charges on the SIM and the charge management hubs. The proceeds are distributed at 43/55% with the csp, at 40/50% with the operator and at 5/7% with the hub.
Faced with the scandal, the telephone companies respond that the hubs are responsible for supervision, the latter reprimanding the service providers, who in turn say they cannot know "if the user clicks on the web page to activate the service or takes place thanks to computer devices". The name of the Roman hub Pure Bros Mobile spa emerged in this court case, but it is said"completely unrelated to the facts so far disputed".
As usual, investigators and the judiciary will clarify the story, but what is most surprising is that just last autumn the Communications Guarantor updated the Code of Conduct for the offer of premium services (CASP 4.0).
After years of violations and abuses, the Communications Authority finally published the Code of Conduct for the offer of premium services (CASP 4.0) on 8 November 2019, approved with resolution no. 108/19 / CONS. An instrument that we can define today rather popped, considering the news. The reason? "CASP 4.0 is the new self-regulation code which contains a series of rules of conduct, agreed between telephone operators, premium service providers, consumer associations and approved by the Authority", reads the presentation note.
Yes, you read that right: it is a code of self-regulation, not an imposition. But be careful to point the finger at the Guarantor, because in some cases compromises of this type are reached because it is not always possible to enter the market with a straight leg. History teaches – as we have seen for example with 28-day billing – that those who undergo imposed regulations can extend application times by exploiting the right on the tables of the judiciary, the TAR and other guarantee bodies.
However, if self-regulation had been applied we would have had to enjoy this procedure. "To activate a premium service (both one shot and subscription) a double user action (so-called double click) is required, on two graphic screens that appear in succession with different functions", reads in the AGCOM document." The user, with the first click, manifests his acceptance of the conditions of the service, with the second click, he wishes to proceed with the purchase and charge of his cost. To purchase the service it is necessary to click on both screens, but the user can interrupt the process by clicking on the button (click to exit) which must be present on both pages.
- call the call center of the premium service provider or the call center of your operator or contact the Consumer Associations using the respective contact channels
- contact – for subscription services only – the toll-free number 800.44.22.99 directly from the number on which the premium service is activated.
- in case of non-refund, the user can always protect his interests, using the Conciliaweb platform.