Wednesday, 18 January 2017 23:16

ACMA issues warning on pitfalls of buying online content Featured


The Australian Communications and Media Authority has again issued a warning about the problems and pitfalls faced by mobile users being charged for buying digital content when they may actually be unaware of their purchases.

According to the ACMA, mobile users may be unaware of the purchase they have made or didn’t believe they had actually subscribed to the content.

The ACMA warning coincides with publication of the authority's latest consumer guide on direct carrier billing (DCB).

DCB allows a mobile user to easily buy digital content with only one or two clicks, and charge the purchase to their mobile phone bill or have it deducted from their pre-paid balance.

But, the ACMA warns that, while DCB can be an easy way to buy content online, some customers have found charges on their mobile bill for content they accidently bought or believed they did not subscribe to.

“So, it pays to know how it works – particularly if you have children or others using your mobile phone,” the ACMA guide cautions.

When using DCB, the ACM says that mobile users should be to beware that:

•    You won’t need to provide your bank account or credit card details;

•    Your mobile provider pays the third-party for the content, and then charges you in your monthly bill or from your pre-paid balance;

•    Your mobile provider may pass your phone number to the third-party content provider to supply you with the content; and

•    These are extra charges, which are not part of your monthly plan for calls, SMS and data.

And, if you find you have unexpected charges on your mobile account the ACMA explains in its newly published guide how to seek a refund.

It says mobile users may be entitled to a refund if they have been charged without giving their consent or misled about the charges or the nature of services.

But, as the ACMA warns, a refund may not be offered if you simply change your mind or if your mobile device has been used by someone else who made the purchases.

To read the ACMA consumer guide in full click here.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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