Barring Third Party Charges

Step 4 – Protecting yourself from further scams

Update 10/04/2018

O2 now claim to be able to apply a ‘charge to bill’ bar which is effective against Payforit.


Update 29/03/18  Three inform me that they are unable to implement a ‘charge to bill’ bar for their customers.

There is a lot of confusion about what is possible to avoid third party charges to your ‘phone account.

Barring premium rate texts is sometimes proposed as a way of stopping these scams. It won’t work. It will prevent you sending premium rate texts, and may prevent you from seeing incoming premium rate texts. It will not stop you from being charged for incoming premium rate texts.

To stop these charges, you need a bar on third party charges to your account. At the time or writing it would appear that Vodafone,O2 and EE can put this bar on your account,  while Three can’t (or won’t?). If you have discovered otherwise, please comment on this post and let us know what your network can or can’t do.

You can test whether you have a charge to account bar in place by using a bus information service as follows – it shouldn’t cost more than about 25p:

Send a text to 87287.  In the body of the text just put 54321

It’ll cost your standard network text charge to send the text.
And another 12p to receive the reply.

Check your balance before you send the text

The test is, do you also get charged another 12p, and will a reply arrive.

Do let us know how you get on if you try this test. If your network has successfully applied a bar, please leave a comment so that this post can be updated.

22 Replies to “Barring Third Party Charges”

  1. How do I know if the network applied a bar?
    Here is what I received:

    54321@21:31
    243 Waterloo due
    68 West Norwood 5 min
    91 Trafalgar Sq 6 min
    188 North Greenwich 6 min
    168 Old Kent Road 7 min
    1 Canada Water 8 min

    1. This would suggest that third party charges are not barred on your account. You should be able to confirm this by checking your account balance. Which network are you with, and which bar did you ask for?

  2. GiffGaff don’t do a ‘charge to bill’ bar as it is a PAYG service but will credit PAYG balance back to your card to avoid further charges being taken – this is OK if you have a monthly recurring bundle and just need the PAYG balance for out of bundle costs – 0845, calls/texts abroad etc.

    I asked them to leave just over £3 in the PAYG balance – not enough for the scammers but enough for a few of those out of bundle costs while I got it sorted.

    Here’s an extract of their agent response:

    “Mike here again, I’m afraid that as giffgaff is a pay as you go network you do not have a bill with us and so we are not able to apply such a bar as there is no bill to apply it to.

    However what I can do is remove the airtime credit from your account and refund this back to your card until you have this resolved, as if there is no airtime on your account then charges cannot be taken from it.

    If you would like me to do this, please get back in touch to confirm.”

    1. Hi Nick

      Thanks for this information. I will add it to the information I give to GiffGaff customers who fall victim to one of these scams.

      Paul

  3. I have today discovered that too have been charged £4.50pw for a service that I know nothing about. I immediately contacted 3 mobile (my provider) who have been very helpful in so much as they have credited me with all money taken from my account and placed a stop on this scam company. BUT they have said they cannot stop Payforit allowing these payments in future from other scammers. I have raised an official complaint with 3 Mobile who are escalating it to the Ombudsman on my behalf. I am also going to be writing to my MP to raise this issue as Payforit are a conduit for illegal payments and this should be stopped. I will come back with any results I might get from this escalation and let other know how I got on.

    1. Further to my comments yesterday on this scam, I now have a bit more information. The company I apparently subscribed to is called Jam Jar Mobile registered in Bury, Greater Manchester. I cannot find any website for this company and they do not have an app so how I am supposed to contact them to get my money’s worth is beyond me!! I have been in contact with the PSA who were able to give me an email address for Jam Jar Mobile but other than that, they have confirmed that I am NOT able to opt out of this Payforit platform which I think is disgraceful. I would be really interested to hear from others who have managed to do this with their mobile provider. I have contacted my MP as I feel so strongly about this.

    2. This is exactly what happened to me this month, I to spoke to Three who are going to credit me as a one off.
      But why is this happening, I NEVER subscribed to Jamjar and I don’t know what or who they are.
      This is just theft.
      I have written to Three and await their reply, I may also contact my MP.
      This has to be stopped.

      1. Hi Brian

        JamJar are a service which has resulted in a number of complaints recently. I doubt that you’ll get very far with Three. They were asked on Twitter a couple of days ago whether they planned to offer consumers any protection from ‘Payforit’ scams and the answer was a definite No!
        It is disgraceful that Three expose their customers to a system as vulnerable to fraud as ‘Payforit’ without any facility to opt-out.
        Make sure you file a complaint with the Phone-paid Services Authority. They do their best to discourage complaints, but it is important, if we want to stop these scams, that there is evidence of the scale of the problem.
        In the meantime, please try to do your best to raise the profile of this issue, and keep us informed of any progress with your case.
        Paul

      2. I have had a look at this company Jam Jar who were stealing the money from me and this is what I found. Cut and pasted…

        JAM JAR MOBILE LIMITED
        JAM JAR MOBILE FERNHILLS BUSINESS CENTER
        FOERSTER CHAMBERS, TODD STREET
        BURY
        GTR MANCHESTER
        UNITED KINGDOM
        BL9 5BJ
        (1,389 companies also use this postcode, this might be a mail forwarding service address)

        It seems to be a new company started in August 2017 run by

        Directors and Secretaries
        Lyndsay Danson

        Cannot find a number or email to find out why and what I was paying for.

        And yes I will also be asking PSA about this.

        Makes me so annoyed, so keep up your good work

        1. Update..
          I found the number on my bill and decided to call it. Got a man with an American accent saying press 1 to stop the service (WHAT SERVICE!!) or 2 to talk to a member of the team, after a few minutes it went dead?

          1. Hi Brian

            I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve found that getting any kind of sensible response from these so-called service providers is difficult. They do just enough to keep the regulator happy. They have to have a phone line which is answered, but that is all they do.
            You need to go back to PSA and tell them that you have been unable to talk to anyone at the ‘service provider’. The problem is that most people would have given up by now – and that is why these scams are profitable.
            If PSA give you the run-around don’t forget to leave a review on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pg/psauthority/reviews/
            Hope you manage to get a resolution

            Paul

  4. Hi Angela
    You’re not alone in feeling strongly about this issue and contacting your MP is a great idea. We need to raise the profile of this issue. It is quite outrageous that the mobile networks are unable to exercise any control over who takes money from your account. If you ask your bank to stop a direct debit, they will do it. Payforit has been exempted from the legal provisions which apply to other payment processors, and that has to be wrong.
    Jam Jar Mobile is registered at Jam Jar Mobile, Fernhills Business Center, Foerster Chambers, Todd Street, Bury, Gtr Manchester, United Kingdom, BL9 5BJ. There is only one director: Lyndsay Danson of Woodlands, Lambrigg, Kendal, Cumbria, England, LA8 0DH.
    I have been unable to find a company website. They use shortcode 83463, which is operated by a payment intermediary called Tap2Bill. The registered address for Tap2Bill is: 5 St. John’s Lane, Farringdon, London, England, EC1M 4BH. details of the directors of Tap2Bill can be found here: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/03212199/officers
    The phone numbers for Tap2Bill are 0333 003 0599 and 01494 750500.
    You can leave a review of Tap2Bill on Facebook and on https://www.aspokesmansaid.com/telecoms/company-11793/tap2bill/1
    You can also leave a review of PSA on Facebook if, like me, you feel they are a waste of space!
    Paul

  5. Received an unsolicited text today saying I’d subscribed to Nuyoo.co at £3 per week. Then saw on my Vodafone bill that I’d already been charged for the last 5 weeks! Called Vodafone who put a premium rate incoming/outgoing text bar in place to ‘stop this happening in future’. Fortunately I found this super website and read it wouldn’t work to stop charges to bill. So I successfully applied a ‘charge to bill’ bar to my account online – but why isn’t this *disabled* by default??

    Spent more time reading up on the subject: contacted PSA who insisted I contacted Nuyoo’s associated mobile company (SB7 Mobile) to request proof of my consent to the service. PSA will only act if no reply in 5 working days. Read the PSA Code of Practice and it is clear that this does NOT have customer fairness at its heart. Instead it seems content to have the customer chase unknown 3rd parties for refunds of unauthorised payments facilitated by their own mobile network operator’s billing platform.

    Direct debit mandates don’t work to these rules – nor should charge to bill. I will follow Angela’s excellent example and work to publicise this completely inadequate, scam-prone ‘service’ in an effort to get changes made and ensure that others do not fall victim to unauthorised charges that are very difficult to recover.

    1. Hello Bob.
      It will be interesting to see what evidence the company are able to produce of you having subscribed to their service. I am unhappy with the way that you have been fobbed off by PSA. You need to insist that you did not knowingly sign up. If the rules are being followed, this should be all but impossible to sign up unwittingly! One of the problems is that it is not always possible to tell the difference between a sign up carried out by a malicious script and a genuine sign up.
      I think that you are entitled to tell PSA, regardless of any evidence that Nuyoo may try to produce, that you do not accept that you signed up to this service and that you expect them to investigate on that basis. Otherwise they are calling you a liar!
      PSA are swamped with these complaints and are keen to reduce the numbers so as to ‘protect the industry’. Please be insistent that they investigate. Nuyoo are one of the companies that crop up regularly in relation to these ‘Payforit’ scams.
      Anything you can do to publicise the problems with Payforit would be really appreciated. As you rightly point out the networks should be taking responsibility for fraudulent transactions made through ‘Payforit’ and not passing the buck back to consumers.
      Don’t forget to leave a review of Phone-paid Services Authority here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/psauthority/reviews/
      Please keep me informed of any progress with your case.

      Paul

  6. Thanks Paul – certainly will keep you updated. Lady at PSA was clearly not to be moved despite my repeated statements that I had not signed up with Nuyoo.
    Interesting comment re malicious script…Kaspersky is installed on my Android. Make of that what you will!!
    Got the feeling that Vodafone customer service were readily accepting of my use of the word scam…but equally adamant that it was down to me to sort a refund. Did eventually get a goodwill credit equal to the £15 of Nuyoo unauthorised charges but it cost me quite some time and two escalations to get there. They also said they had contacted Nuyoo on my behalf to request cancellation (something I hoped I had already done).

    1. Yes, Bob
      The customer service staff at the mobile networks must get fed up with angry customers calling them up about these scams. Most people find them sympathetic, but they still have to stick to the company line.
      If PSA continue to reject your request for an investigation, I suggest that you invoke their complaints procedure.
      https://psauthority.org.uk/about-us/complaints-about-us
      There is no excuse for them not registering your complaint and it is not necessary to wait for a response for Nuyoo to do so. You say you were signed up without your knowledge and consent and that should be enough. I know that there are a number of complaints about this company, so I’m sure they are trying to keep the numbers down to avoid having to investigate. Please don’t give up – that’s what they are relying on!

  7. This is completely absurd. It is absurd that our personal information is shared with criminals while browsing on 4G. Three and other phone companies directly or indirectly share revenue and complicit of these criminal organizations. They rely on the fact that nobody will spend substantial time and effort to expose this because of the small amounts being stolen. This is apparently all legal, cannot be stopped, and the existing authorities do nothing. Somebody needs to make a big deal out of it.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! It is time that action was taken to close down the insecure ‘Payforit’ system. It seems ridiculous that if consumers want to have a mobile phone, they are needlessly exposed to fraud. Please do all you can to raise the profile of this issue.

      Paul

  8. Me and two friends have all suffered from this scam. My friend had £200 billed in £4.50 increments for a service she never subscribed to. I got a £4.50 payforit charge when I activated a series of ‘redirects’ on an advert on a ‘normal’ website. In both cases, we were refunded after complaining to PhonePayPlus but I’m still out of pocket for my ‘STOP’ text and my valuable time.
    This type of scam MUST be stopped as there must be thousands of people unknowingly being billed for ‘services’ they never asked for. In most cases the ‘service’ is a regular set of ‘gifstickers’ or even porn pics.
    I can see in a few years the phone companies having to refund their customers like the PPI scandal.
    Tesco mobile claim they cannot activate a charge to bill bar yet posts above state that O2 can. Tesco runs on the O2 network so has anyone successfully blocked payforit payments?
    It should be the case that when you sign up for a mobile contract you should be able to click on a button:-
    ‘Would you like to activate Payforit payments so that any company can indiscriminately take payemnts for so-called services when they feel like it or if you accidentally sign-up for something’ – Y or N.
    By the way, PhonePayPlus, although sympathetic and helpful, stated that in my case and my friends’ case they would take no further action. This is beacuse the companies eventually paid up (after repeatedly promising to and then only when PhonePayPlus intervened).
    I guess for every £1 they refund, they’re still raking in another £99 so a dedicated phoneline to refund the few complainers is a small price to pay.

    1. Hi Tom
      I couldn’t agree more that these scams need to be stopped, and anything you can do to help raise the profile of the problem would be greatly appreciated.
      O2 CLAIM to be able to put a ‘charge to bill’ bar on your account, which should stop ‘Payforit’ charges.EE and Vodafone make the same claim, but as far as I know these claims have not been tested. GiffGaff at one stage assured me they could block ‘Payforit’ charges, but it was later proved that they could not! It is ridiculous that consumers who want a mobile phone contract are exposed to the high risk of fraud associated with ‘Payforit’.
      I believe that ‘Payforit’ should be abandoned as there are many safer payment systems available. However, realistically I believe that there are two steps which could be taken. You have identified the first of these – to make ‘Payforit’ a mechanism requiring opt-in.
      A second improvement would be to require two-factor authentication for all subscription services, so that a PIN number has to be input to authorise such transactions. The mechanism already exists for subscriptions in excess of £4.50 per week, so it would be easy to extend it to lower value transactions. I wonder why so many of these scams are for exactly £4.50 per week!
      Make sure, even if you get a refund, that your complaint to PSA (the new name for PhonePayPlus) IS registered and that you get a case number. The fact that you got a refund is irrelevant, the company who charged you were in contravention of the Code Of Practice, simply by charging without consent. I am currently collecting details of cases where the PSA refuse to register a complaint simply because a refund has been made.
      PSA are funded by the ‘industry’ so are reluctant to act, but the figures for complaints are recorded and it is important that they are not allowed to refuse to record valid complaints. If you are unhappy with PSA don’t forget to leave a review on Facebook!

  9. Paul,

    Many thanks for your comments. Having fallen victim to this scam and seeing your website, I am very eager to help spread the word and help in bringing the PayForit debacle to end. There really is no place in a modern decent society for a ‘service’ that charges like this. Like you say, two stage authentication would sort it out.

    Paul – do you have access to my email address? If so, please feel free to contact me directly as I am happy to give you my Phonepayplus reference number and chat about the matter.

    Kind regards

    Tom

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