Cell phone subscription traps: how to defend against the rip-off

Several hundred euros on your mobile phone bill for purchases you don’t know about? There can be a subscription trap behind this. This is how you can defend yourself against these practices.

Since February 2020, customers can only be billed via their mobile phone bill for what they have actually bought or subscribed to on their smartphone. With the regulation, the Federal Network Agency wanted to prevent subscription rip-offs. In practice, however, it doesn’t work very well.

This is the finding of the magazine “Finanztest” in its current issue (11/2021). Cell phone customers could still fall into the subscription trap of third-party providers if they unsuspectingly click away from pop-up windows, click on manipulated links or through unwanted advertising calls. Usually the victims only notice it when the mobile phone bill flutters into the house. Because they have usually not received a service and often have no idea what they allegedly ordered.

Financial test“therefore strongly recommends setting up a third-party lock. To do this, log into the customer account on the provider’s website and activate the lock with just a few clicks. In addition, services offered by the mobile operator should also be blocked. Mobile phone purchases can then still be made can be made with the smartphone – but alternative forms of payment are required.

Sample letter helps with complaints about debits

If you are offered unwanted subscriptions on the phone, it is best to just hang up. If you do not want calls of this kind, you should inform your mobile operator in writing.

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Anyone who has already suffered damage: The financial testers advise you to immediately complain about the unknown items on your mobile phone bill. In addition, you should not be turned away by the provider with sentences such as “the use of the services complained about could be clearly assigned to your phone number”. That is not proof of an order. The mobile operator should deny in writing that a sales contract has been concluded. A free sample letter is available online.

In addition, injured parties should complain to the Federal Network Agency about unlawful debits (ruf Numbers abuse@bnetza.de). If a single payment to a third party provider exceeds the amount of 50 euros or the monthly sum is higher than 300 euros, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (poststelle@bafin.de) should also be informed.

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