ACCC cracks down on premium mobile services

Failure to comply with industry code may bring fines of up to $250,000

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have joined forces to produce a new fact sheet — Mobile premium services – Information for consumers — to prevent consumers being ripped off by mobile premium SMS services.

The move follows a new industry developed code that came into effect on 1 July, 2009 after consumer concerns were raised about mobile premium SMS. Some of the issues addressed by the Mobile Premium Services Code include clearer advertising details, additional protection for minors and swifter cancellation of services by mobile service providers when requested by the consumer.

"Earlier this year the ACCC flagged concerns about mobile premium services and warned the industry to clean up its act," said ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel.

"Consumers were complaining about unsolicited services and misleading advertising. The code's new advertising requirements, and the fact that consumers will have to re-confirm they want to receive all mobile premium services, will go a long way to protect consumers from these problems."

Establishment of the Mobile Premium Services Code means failure to comply with the code may result in fines of up to $250,000 for mobile service operators.

"The ACMA will be particularly rigorous around critical consumer protections such as making sure premium content suppliers respond promptly to any reply SMS containing the word "STOP". Suppliers cannot charge mobile phone users for any messages received after a "STOP" command has been sent, and must cancel the service entirely within one business day," said Chris Chapman Chairman of the ACMA.

"The ACMA will be closely monitoring compliance with the code, and consumers can be confident we will take serious action against rogue suppliers," said Chapman.

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