UK regulator says apps expose consumers to premium rate scams

The threat that mobile apps can pose hidden threats to consumers could trigger increased control, says PhonepayPlus, the UK premium rate services regulator.

The organisation claims it has already shut down and fined some mobile app marketing operations which maliciously charged users without their knowledge or consent. PhonepayPlus said that it identified one mobile app, claiming to improve battery life, containing malware that accessed the phone's text message function and allowed messages to be sent subscribing the user to a premium rate subscription service without their knowledge.

The company operating the service has been closed by PhonepayPlus and fined £135,000.

The organisation is now calling for new regulations centred on tighter controls around virtual currency, and when passwords have to be entered by the user. New recommendations also include better guidelines around payment consent and how mobile app developers indicate what aspects are free and what are not.

According to the Daily Telegraph, PhonepayPlus CEO Paul Whiteing said retaining consumers' trust was in the industry's interest. "We will not hesitate to use our robust sanctioning powers to drive out rogue providers who could damage a vital part of the UK's growing and innovative digital and creative economies," he said.

PhonepayPlus has just announced a 10-week public consultation on its proposed guidance for app-based mobile payments.

For more:
- see this Daily Telegraph article

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