Posted by Simon Havenhand 21 Feb 2014

Staying Safe Online

Staying Safe Online

As a general rule: if it sounds too good to be true; it probably is!

It was announced yesterday that a large number of Facebook and Tumblr users could be owed refunds after a paid-for subscription service misled them with inaccurate marketing information.

Premium rate phone service regulatory board, Phonepay Plus gave a formal reprimand to Nobinet Ltd and fined the firm £45,000 after it told users it could reveal who had viewed their profiles.

Money Saving Expert reports: “Instead of seeing these names, social media users were redirected to an online game that told users they would be entered into draws to win prizes including iPads if they achieved the highest score in the game.

“To enter the game, users were asked to enter their phone numbers. This signed them up to a subscription service charging up to £4.50 per week.

“Phoneplay Plus found that payment details were buried in the small print, making the apps misleading to those signing up.”

A spokesman for Phoneplay Plus is reported as saying: “Most affiliate marketing services follow the rules, but this case should be a warning to consumers to take care following adverts that then require them to enter their phone number online.”

It is understood that the regulator says it will contact people who have complained directly to it about being billed by Nobinet, and they’ll be offered a full refund.

Users who may have been affected are being advised to contact Phonepay Plus.

 

Protecting Yourself Online:

In light of this situation, we think it’s worth reiterating the need to be secure online. Despite advances in Internet security, loopholes remain that make it a viable source of income for online cowboys.

As a general rule: if it sounds too good to be true; it probably is! Here are some other tips to protect yourself online:

The small print is often a good place to start. We know it may be a tedious bore, but reading the T&Cs could identify the obligations involved in subscribing. If the small print is accurate – and found to be satisfactory by a regulatory board – you may not have a leg to stand on when you begin to get charged.

Protect your details when using the Internet. In particular: your phone number. You may see no harm in providing contact details, but your mobile phone number is like a bankcard in the online space and fees and charges can be added to your phone bill by the subscription service.

Check your address bar to ensure you’ve arrived at the correct page. An affiliate site may redirect you without you even noticing it. Ensure the address begins “www.” and features the correct URL.

Install comprehensive phishing software. Many products are general all-rounders and will provide you with adequate protection online. Heed warnings from your browser too. Chrome, Safari and Explorer all include features to safeguard you – although these may not be as effective as a paid-for service.

For more information on protecting yourself online, we’d recommend the Get Safe Online website here.

 

[Image courtesy of DigitalTrends.com]