At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

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At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

I got a spam SMS from 31850 asking me to sign up for some quiz, I just ignored it, I've always heard not to reply 'STOP' to spamers because then they know your number is real and being spammers they don't care what you reply. I've seen messages on this board where people reply 'STOP' and it does no good.

 

Anyway, I just got my bill and AT&T let this "third party" (it's in quotes because they have to be in cahoots with at&t for this to happen) charge me $9.99 for their subscription. I don't have time to deal with it now but I'll probably have to take time out of my day monday call At&t.

 

I usually don't get upset over stuff but I can't believe that AT&T lets someone sign me up for a  $9.99 a month charge without consent, without a password or pin or an email or anything.

 

By the way, you are all now signed up for my subscription service.  Please read this sentence to confirm.

 

Message 1 of 94 (16,645 Views)
Teacher

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

[ Edited ]

wingrider01 wrote:

You did agree to something in some way shape or form, the companies have been challenged and each time they have been able to supply documentation on the agreement - do a little search engine scanning.

 

 It can be something as simple as "by taking this survey / quiz you agree to a monthly charge to be submitted to your carrier"  or By downloading this ringtone you agree to a monthly subscription charge to be added to your phone bill"

 

A great deal of evidence and actual AT&T employees staffing the AT&T customer service line refute this line of thinking. Nothing I wrote in my post is untrue, and I'm not inclined to believe that the many others posting here are either lying or as absent of recall as you imply.

 

{keep it courteous} Again, the only other conclusion is that everybody else (including AT&T reps in an *official* capacity, unlike yourself) are far less informed than your seemingly lone voice.

 

 Your drone of "must be pilot error" is becoming wearisome. If you truly want to assist, might I suggest a new course of action?

Message 31 of 94 (38,921 Views)
Highlighted
Expert

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

[ Edited ]

jorn_k wrote:

wingrider01 wrote:

You did agree to something in some way shape or form, the companies have been challenged and each time they have been able to supply documentation on the agreement - do a little search engine scanning.

 

 It can be something as simple as "by taking this survey / quiz you agree to a monthly charge to be submitted to your carrier"  or By downloading this ringtone you agree to a monthly subscription charge to be added to your phone bill"

 

A great deal of evidence and actual AT&T employees staffing the AT&T customer service line refute this line of thinking. Nothing I wrote in my post is untrue, and I'm not inclined to believe that the many others posting here are either lying or as absent of recall as you imply.

 

{keep it courteous} Again, the only other conclusion is that everybody else (including AT&T reps in an *official* capacity, unlike yourself) are far less informed than your seemingly lone voice.

 

 Your drone of "must be pilot error" is becoming wearisome. If you truly want to assist, might I suggest a new course of action?


try taking a few seconds out of your busy life and do the actual research, you might find that what is being stated is actually true. No matter what you believe you did agree to it in some way shape or form, no carrier would be inane enough to add a charge from a 3rd party company without that company having some form of authorization given to the 3rd party company by you - research verizon forums, sprint forums, cricket forums, t-mobile forums, use bing / google to research the compalints filed against said companies for deceptive practices. A lot of time "pilot error" is the cause.  I know, been burned and researched it with the professionasl to verify that it happens just that way.

Message 32 of 94 (38,913 Views)
Guru

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

Wingrider is correct.  This happened to my daughter, my husband, and my parents.  I did some research on the subject, including the companies who bill the $9.99 charges through AT&T, some of which increase to $14.99, $19.99 and so on, within a short time.  It happens will ALL the phone companies, not just AT&T.  My understanding is that the phone companies have NO CHOICE in this.  The law allows the third party billing.  A very helpful Qwest customer service representative explained it to me when I called about charges on my parents' bill about 2-3 years ago.  The phone companies don't like the charges either, since the customers get mad at them.  Whether you realize it or not, you ARE consenting to the charge when you take that quiz or survey.  My daughter had no idea that the Facebook quiz she took would result in a monthly subscription charge for $9.99.  My husband and parents never figured out what they did to incur the charges, and they did not have Facebook accounts at the time it happened.

All of our charges were removed immediately by the phone company involved, without any hassle.  We added the purchasing blocks and have had no extra charges since then, which was about 3+ years ago.  Don't blame Wingrider for being right!

Message 33 of 94 (38,905 Views)
Tutor

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

I love all the AT&T fanboys who stick up for a company that allows this. 

 

Your ignorance astounds me. 

 

This has happened to me twice in the last month. I use my phone for business purposes ONLY. No surfing for ringtones, illicit sites, surveys. I don't have a facebook, google+, twitter or any other social networking. 

 

I don't even have it listed and a google voice number is given to everyone, which then rings where I tell it to. I only have an ATT number so that I can be reached via google voice. My number is never dirctly rung.

 

This last time customer service said I signed up for this when I was in the middle of a triathalon. My phone was in the car turned off. The first time I supposedly "signed up" was when I was at work, phone locked in car. 

 

Essentially, ATT condones this behavior because they're greedy. Their CEO is greedy and an old dinosaur in the technology world. If you don't catch this nonsense they sign you up for in 60 days, then it's permanent and they take a cut. 

 

http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/04/atandt-ceo-voices-regret-over-iphone-unlimited-data-model/

 

This is why I still receive a paper bill, pay by check and do NOT use auto-bill payment. 

 

The old saying, "A fool and his money are soon parted" comes to light here. 

 

ATT will cease being my provider if they don't stop this. 

Message 34 of 94 (38,737 Views)
Tutor

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

lol "research forums" where other people like you spread FUD like it's manure on toast! Good idea.
Message 35 of 94 (38,737 Views)
Teacher

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

When you said "I didn't reply to any of them".  That's where you gave consent to be charged.  If you examine the messages closely, they inform you you've been signed up and can "opt out" by replying STOP to the message.  Your lack or replying is what gave them permission (because they offered you a way to opt out I guess), hence, no reply = tacit approval to charge your account.  Even if you do reply stop, you'll likely be charged anyway, because these crooks now ignore people who respond to opt out anway....

 

It's not so much the carrier, but the 3rd party company that's at fault here, but partially it's the fault of the carrier, in so much as they don't do much to stop it, and you... yes you, are partially to blame because you did something, somewhere along the line to invite this scam upon yourself (or some mobile user on your account).  For example, filling out sweepstakes, voting by phone, entering your phone number into an unsecure website for "free" ringtones.  Basically, anything offered to you for free in exchange for some information, (i.e. name, address, phone number, email, etc), gets you onto a list which culminates with a text message from somewhere in the ether that obfuscates the fact that you've been charged.

 

None of this is accidental.  It's all carfully crafted by these scammers to play on your normal reaction to a normal situation.  For example, the text they send you is meant to easily appear to be a harmless hunk of spam that they KNOW you likely won't look at, and they trick you into it because they KNOW you THINK the charges cannot appear on your bill without your consent.   So you get the number from your carrier and you THINK you have their phone number, but you don't.  You have the number to the company that is a agregator 3rd party billing company, so you ask them for the number to the company that charged you, and the give you the number then, and you STILL don't have the number because that company has a parent company, who is the one to authorize your refund (after they sit on your money for a month or two).  That's if you get the refund.  Often times, you'll find yourself in a game of pass the buck where the carrier, the billing company, the decoy company, and the parent company are all pointing fingers at one another, or just let you yell at some poor sap in the Phillipines who says I'm sorry, can't help you, or hangs up on you because you won't quit and hang up on them.

 

I must say... I've been with AT&T for 3 years plus now, and I've NEVER ONCE had any 3rd party charge on my bill.... and I've not even install the 3rd party content block onto my account (yet, that's why I'm on the site right now).  Also, I was with T-Mobile for 5 years prior to coming to AT&T, and I never had a problem with them either.  I did get a 3rd party charge once, but it was because I entered my number into a website and got dinged for $10 bucks.  Actually the best 10 bucks I've ever spent, because it prompted me to investigate to the point where I knew how to avoid getting these charges on my bill.  I know my bill amount to the penny, and when it went up 10 cents recently, I noticed it and investigated it (The regulartory fee went up 10 cents).  Anyway, I keep waiting to get hit with something here or there, and it never has happened yet.  With the 3rd party content block in place, I'm pretty safe.

 

So now everyone knows how to avoid these charges, also check out AT&T's page on 3rd party charges too, it explains it pretty well too.

Message 36 of 94 (38,714 Views)
Teacher

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

Wingrider, I *did* take some time from my busy schedule and did quite a bit of reserach. I posted about it already in this thread.

 

I'd add that local television stations have been conducting investigations into this situation and have come to the same conclusions: No user interaction is required for the "slammer" to add a recurring charge to one's phone bill. Again, this was confirmed by an AT&T support representative.

 

Here is a link to an example of a story from KARE11 in MInneapolis.

Message 37 of 94 (38,710 Views)
Teacher

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

KARE11 did a follow-up to the piece linked above.  It is rather interesting.

Message 38 of 94 (38,707 Views)
Teacher

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent


 

You know what I'd like? I'd like ATT to show me the agreement they say they read in circumstances like this.



Me too. I called AT&T and asked for it. The person helping me tried not to chuckle when he said "There's no such thing."

Message 39 of 94 (38,705 Views)
Expert

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent


jorn_k wrote:

Wingrider, I *did* take some time from my busy schedule and did quite a bit of reserach. I posted about it already in this thread.

 

I'd add that local television stations have been conducting investigations into this situation and have come to the same conclusions: No user interaction is required for the "slammer" to add a recurring charge to one's phone bill. Again, this was confirmed by an AT&T support representative.

 

Here is a link to an example of a story from KARE11 in MInneapolis.



they are only one of thousands of stations, consumer rights groups and other investigations that have occurred on this issue. Have seen numberous basic waysof you "agreeing" to the charge, which in turn authorizes them to bill your mobile account

 

1. download a "free" ringtone/wallpaper/etc and in the fine print of the "agreement" it states by doing this you agree to the monthly subscription

2. answer a "quiz/intellilgence test/survey" on one of the social sites which also triggers the authorization to bill by you

3. for your free update text "insert their phrase" to [enter any shortcode for texting] and what they don;t make apparent is you also agree to a monthly charges

4. you request information then you get a response "reply with the word "STOP" to cancel the X.XX a month charges - which is worded that if you DON"T text stop you agree to the monthly charge

 

Example number 4 is the example to your comment of "no user interaction is required" - if don;t do anything you are agreeing and authorizing them to bill your account, to prevent you are required to text "STOP" to the short code. So yes by your lack of interaction you agreed to the charge, this is true for the majority of the carriers

 

those are just 4 of the multitude of ways they get you to agree and they get more creative as time goes on. The Carrier, like a credit card company has no idea if the charges is valid or not, the charging company has your recieved your agreement by underhanded ways.

 

Best way to prevent this is to automaticly put a purchase block on the account and require a CVS code entered by the account holder to authorize the charges - which IS available already by carriers, it is just not automaticly applied, you have to request it. Best guess as to why it isn;t is that it is a inconvience to the account holder that actually utilzes purchases - like from the android phone and windows mobile phones.

 

As long as the company supplying the charge to the carrier can produce documentation that the end user agreed to it, the carrier will not refuse it unless there is a problem, you can pretty well be assured that all the companies out there get the end user to agree by plan english that is not read or underhanded ways. Just like a online / brick and mortar outlet will not refuse a retail purchase if the buyer has the correct authorization, as long as the authorization is there, then the purchase goes through.

 

The only thing I blame any of the carriers in this whole issue is they do not automaticly put a pin requirement on the account for purchases, require this and the companies that do the slamming will be put out of business fairly quickly, it will inconvience the account holder, but it will prevent the issue

Message 40 of 94 (38,693 Views)

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

This happened to me.  I did not authorize the charge in any way, I'm a software engineer so I am well aware of how technology works.  I did not do anything, I simply got a SMS saying I had already signed up when in fact I had not.  AT&T did not believe me but still removed the charge.

 

It basically seems like some third party people are faking authorizations.  I don't think it's AT&T's fault really, they are just the billing party in this scenario.  But they do need to take note of fraudulent companies and block their charges.

 

On a side note, 4 other people at my work had the exact same charge, same story as me... just got an SMS saying they had signed up when they had not.

Message 41 of 94 (38,665 Views)
Tutor

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

My AT&T phone bill was charge of $9.99 for Words/Definitions ale, provider: Mobile Plus, Inc..

and I NEVER sent or received a text or accepted ANYTHING.

Message 42 of 94 (38,546 Views)

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

I don't believe for a minute the victim-blaming nonsense that people somehow authorized this. My spouse and I have both started getting crap like this delivered to our phones at different times, and neither of us has ever downloaded ringtones or wallpapers for our phones, or anything else like that. These people are spammers. Spammers lie. Spammers ALWAYS lie. They claim you authorized stuff, and they'll happily offer made-up proof. (I once had a spammer claim that a signup occurred from a particular IP address. That address was a laser printer.) So no, it's not the case that everyone who gets one of these signed up without noticing.
Message 43 of 94 (38,533 Views)
Former Community Manager

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

I'm sorry that you were charged by a spammer. Please take a look at this information regarding purchase blocker: http://forums.att.com/t5/Wireless-Billing/3rd-Party-Subscriptions-amp-Purchase-Blocker/td-p/3095123

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Message 44 of 94 (38,517 Views)

Re: At&t let a third party charge me $9.99 without my consent

Wingrider, just a thought:

 

All it takes is *one* example of a charge being added which was genuinely without any kind of user permission, and you are wrong.  No number of cases where there was some kind of user permission proves that it never happens without user permission.

 

Furthermore, we started getting these on a phone, many months after getting the phone, when it had NEVER been used for anything but communication with one other person on the same account.  That number is not given out or used in any way.  No downloads of ringtones, etcetera.

 

In short:  You're engaging in utterly ridiculous, over-the-top, victim-blaming.  What you've got going here is a cognitive error common to all humans called the "just world fallacy"; the belief that it is ALWAYS the case that people are somehow culpable when bad things happen to them.  You can't accept that the spammers might just be getting away with something, so you come up with this theory that there must actually be some kind of permission happening.

 

But it's not the case.  Yes, there are many tricky ways people can get "authorization", but that doesn't mean that every time they start billing, they used one of those.  There are dozens of ways that people can scam stores out of stuff.  That doesn't mean that there's no such thing as shoplifting.

 

The billing system allows third parties to start billing people without permission.  AT&T has *confirmed* that this is the case, and that there are cases in which the third parties do not actually have permission.  The "forward to 7726" thing exists partially because it helps cell phone networks track the spammers and disable their short code accounts.

 

Please stop trying to make excuses for scammers.  Yes, purchase block is a good idea, but the fundamental problem is that the cell phone networks will accept charges without any sort of confirmation, and that scammers abuse this by charging for things without any kind of permission.  That really does happen, and even if you were actually able to provide links and support for your claims that often there is a trick involved whereby they "got permission", that doesn't even begin to prove that it doesn't.

 

And you're quite right that a purchase PIN would solve the problem.  So would simply requiring a response text saying "ACCEPT" in response to all "subscription" services.  The problem is that you can get signed up through inaction.  If any sort of action were required, AT&T (and other carriers) could check their logs for whether the user had sent ACCEPT, and they would not have this problem.

Message 45 of 94 (38,516 Views)
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