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ACCAN Calls For Protection Against 3rd-Party Mobile Account Charging

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has called for stronger consumer protections for mobile phone customers. saying it estimates that 12 percent of mobile phone users have experienced unexpected third-party charges on their mobile phone bills in the last six months, and that these charges could add up to $20 million.

The network says there are three means by which such charges can be applied: direct carrier billing to a phone bill, generally available to Telstra and Optus customers only; mobile premium services that consumers may subscribe to; and 190-voice or video call services.

Its survey of 2000 Australian mobile users found that 49 percent were unaware they could make third-party purchases via their mobile phone accounts.

ACCAN found a quarter of account holders who experienced unexpected charges did not dispute them, and those who were charged less than $5 were most likely to take no further action .

Once charges rose to between $5-$10, people were much more likely to follow up with their telco or the third party company.

Only six percent went on to complain to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Some 36 percent of unexpected charges were for $10 or more.

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