Thousands of complaints made about unrecognised fees on mobile phone bills from O2, Vodafone, EE and Three
'Mobile networks are exposing millions of consumers to text scams that allow payments to be taken directly through their phone bills, frequently for services they do not want and have never knowingly signed up for.
Customers say they have discovered charges, sometimes for hundreds of pounds, for companies they have never heard of.
But despite thousands of complaints about unrecognised charges, regulators have allowed a number of third-party companies that have been repeatedly accused of taking payments without consent to continue operating with impunity.
The scams work through so-called direct carrier billing, a system operated by the four major networks – O2, Vodafone, EE and Three – that allows consumers to purchase goods or services on their mobiles at the click of a button without entering any card details.
But The Independent has found evidence that the system is open to abuse, leaving millions of customers unsatisfied and many out of pocket.
To operate direct carrier billing, all of the major networks hand out their customers’ phone numbers to “trusted” third party firms which are allowed to take payments through phone bills. Consenting to the service is part of the networks’ standard terms and conditions when consumers sign up.
To take money in this way, companies have to show the network operator that a person has then provided specific consent to charge for a service.
But thousands have complained they have been charged for services they do not recognise.'
Read more: Mobile networks leave millions of customers exposed to text scams that take money through phone bills