Wednesday 21 February 2018

Misleading websites targeted in crackdown on costly phone services

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

A GOVERNMENT watchdog wants to crack down on misleading websites that attempt to sign customers up for premium rate phone services.

The regulator, ComReg, has identified a host of misleading practices such as 'typosquatting', where companies register misleading website names such as 'Dacebook' or 'Twtter' in the hope of selling people services they think are associated with more trustworthy brands.

It published a new consultation paper yesterday looking at ways of tightening up regulation of premium-rate services on mobile and fixed-line phones.

Premium-rate service is a multimillion-euro sector offering services like quizzes, horoscopes, chatlines and sports alerts that customers sign up to and pay for on their phones.

ComReg said it had identified a problem last year with consumers here being misled into buying premium rate subscriptions costing €12 per week.

The premium rate company or an affiliate acting for it had used 'typosquatting' to direct customers to its website.

Other new misleading practices include 'clickjacking' where companies layer a transparent page over another one, so when the user clicks on a link they are actually redirected to a different website offering premium rate services.

In some cases the price information is also deliberately obscured.

'Likejacking' is another problem where premium-rate companies trick customers into 'liking' something they did not intend to that may lead them on to a premium-rate promotion they don't want.

ComReg is now seeking to modify its new code of practice introduced last year to reflect ongoing changes in the premium rate services sector.

Irish Independent

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