It is possible to run into fraud both the internet and on one’s own mobile telephone. The Consumer Ombudsman and the police point out that it is advisable to take a critical attitude toward advertisements and update requests coming on the internet and on mobile applications.
The Consumer Ombudsman, consumer rights advisors, the European Consumer Centre, and the National Bureau of Investigation have received numerous contacts recently concerning frauds involving the use of mobile devices and the internet. Typically consumers find that they have inadvertently ordered an individual service or made a long-term subscription.
The Consumer Ombudsman has learned about the following types of cases, for instance:
- A consumer has entered a competition in which a prize such as an iPhone or iPad is offered, and has unwittingly ordered a product or service in the process.
- A message is received on the consumers mobile phone informing him or her that some application, such as Whatsapp, will soon be out of date, and asking for his or her telephone number. After this, a message appears on the mobile phone according to which the consumer has subscribed to a monthly service.
- A consumer has been asked on line to for his or her telephone number, car registration number, or other piece of information on whose basis it has been possible to ascertain contact information. After a bill arrives for a service that the consumer has not ordered.
- In some cases consumers have not necessarily been in any contact with the company behind the swindle, but they have nevertheless been invoiced for ordering the product or service.
Instructions for consumers:
- Remember that generally speaking, free products do not exist. The only purpose of a product advertised as being free of charge is to entice you to make an order or subscription, after which the company starts sending you goods for which payment is expected.
- Take a critical view of advertisements and calls to update that appear in free mobile applications.
- Do not click on advertisements on Facebook and mobile applications if their language is faulty.
- If you receive a bill for a purchase or order that you feel you have not made, send a complaint either by telephone or e-mail to the service provider, and to any possible bill collecting agency that is invoicing for the bill. Give reasons in that connection why you are not obligated to pay the bill. According to the law, the collection of the invoice cannot proceed until the matter is resolved. In such a situation you will also not get a record of delinquent payment, because a court of law must first give a valid decision on a demand for payment.
- Dishonest companies are in the habit of altering their advertising and their web pages, or removing them completely from the internet. If you suspect that an advertisement that you see is a fraudulent, make a screenshot. With the help of a screenshot it will be easier for you to prove later what you have read on the website. Additional information and instructions for screenshots are available from the websites of various equipment manufacturers and suppliers of software.
The Consumer Ombudsman has long been keeping tabs on fraud as part of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network ICPEN. The network specialises in recognising fraud and issuing warnings about them. ICPEN was founded in 1992 and 30 countries are part of it.