Telstra’s phone bill scam that’s legal but costing people thousands

Usually when we report scams, it’s because they’re illegal and are created by scam artists. Unfortunately not everything that takes

Usually when we report scams, it’s because they’re illegal and are created by scam artists. Unfortunately not everything that takes your money unknowingly is illegal or run by scammers – there’s been reports Telstra customers have had massive bill shock after a legal practice has blind-sided them.

Thousands of Telstra customers have been affected by the practice known as third-party billing which can charge thousands of dollars after simply clicking on a website or advertisement, whether by accident or deliberately.

A telco insider told the West Australian the process is barely legal and “very, very dodgy”, not to mention it’s made Telstra millions of dollars even though customers all over their Facebook and Twitter have complained.

If you’ve been affected, you may have noticed you were signed up to a subscription service – a game or product – that you don’t remember wanting. These services aren’t free, and you may have seen a fee on your bill that charges between $6 to $15 a week.

But because the charge is automatically added to a bill, many customers do not notice it for months.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has reported a 30 per cent increase in customer complaints on third party charges in the last year, with Telstra being the only telco that has an opt-in that requires you to only have clicked once on an ad to sign up.

Optus and Vodafone have a “double click opt-in” method, which sends a message to confirm the subscription.

To opt-out of these services, you need to contact the provider. Telstra has a list of providers’ contact numbers on their website and information on how to cancel.

Tell us, have you been affected by this issue?

  1. how do you find out if you are being charged these if you have a pre paid phone ? credit has been disappearing for apparently no reason from both mine and my partners phones for months now….

    • Pamela  

      I have a prepaid vodafone account and can always check calls, text messages or any other debits on my account page on their website.

      You should be able to do the same with your provider.

  2. alicia thomas  

    Yes I have been hit several times and if you try to send a text to opt out it comes back not sent. I have had only 1 that has repaid the money.

  3. Jan Thomson  

    Yes $100 in one month that I was away from home and again the next month before I realised. Very bad rang and complained but no refunds at all.

  4. Liz  

    I rang Telstra recently ( late Feb) as I had felt my pre paid credit was disappearing so fast. I took a while to get to ring as I live out bush – I wish I had rung earlier. They put a block on the ‘game’ that was being sent to me on weekends. I had just been deleting it not realising that I was being charged so much for it. When I rang Telstra said that I had being playing the game – I told them I have never wanted to receive this game and had never played it. So far the block is working. Mid year when I get to a city I will get myself a new phone and new number and I will be very careful! Such a waste of my precious money. If I could I would not use Telstra but I have no choice.

    • lewis barnes  

      Go and buy a Sim Card from ALDI either instore or on line for five dollars they use the Telstra network so it has the same Coverage and cheaper to recharge to boot.
      Thats what I did and I live in the Bush also Stuff Telstra rip off mongrel’s

  5. Tina Rankin  

    When I was reading something I google this game thing flash by as I was scrolling up next thing I knew I was signed up for a game I hit cancel straight away Next day got tex to say I join a game $10 aweek they had a number which I rang and spoke to some overseas operator I was told I was charged and that I had to email and explain what happen to get refund The email address was ofcourse dogdy I rang telstra explained what happened they said they couldn’t do anything It happened a second time and this time telstra blocked my phone so if I click accidently it won’t connect BUT I can’t ring competition no’s I have to ring and unlock but with a charge Scammets have more rights than paying customers

  6. Sue  

    I recently discovered third party charges on my bill and when I went back to check previous bills , it had been happening since January . There were over $180 worth of extra charges. The reason I didn’t notice it was because I had taken out a new plan back in Jan with my iPad. This was including Internet of course. I had also crossed over with my previous plan and knew that my bill would be a bit higher than normal . When it continued I looked into it. I phoned the company (mobipay) and they were really good about it and explained how it happens. Apparently you only have to click on an ad for a game ( accidentally in my case as I don’t play games) and bingo you have subscribed. The company could see that I had not activated the games even though I had inadvertantly subscribed. They have agreed to refund all the money but I have to tell Telstra to block my number from these games. I think that it is wrong that I should have to do this, although I will. This should not be allowed and I am angry that they prey on people’s vulnerability to make money.

  7. Pamela  

    Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

    The TIO is a fast, free and fair service that helps resolve telephone and internet complaints.

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