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EU Launches Massive Campaign To Stop Ringtone Scams

More than 200 websites across Europe have either been closed down or forced to change their terms and conditions after feeling the full force of the EU's Consumer Commission led by its Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva.

She said in a statement that "Young people should not have to fall victim to scams like misleading advertising that lure them into ringtone subscriptions they thought were free. And parents should not find nasty surprises in their phone bill, when their children by accident have signed up to more than they have bargained for."

The crackdown came after numerous complaints from parents and users in general over the widespread extent of scams in the European ringtone sector which by some account, would be worth around £650 million per year.

Europeans own around 500 million mobile phones in all and the initial investigations carried out by the respective enforcement authorities like PhonepayPlus (ex-ICSTIS) in the UK, found out that more than 300 sites were to be scrutinised.

In addition, PhonePayplus has also reported a 62 percent decrease in the number of complaints recorded between July 2008 and October 2009 over premium rate phoneline scams.

Our Comments

One of the problems encountered by the European Commission will be the fact that the most prolific scammers are likely to be based outside the EU and operate behind facades and third parties. Furthermore, even those which have been closed can either reappear elsewhere or under another name.

Related Links

60% drop in UK mobile complaints

(UK Press)

EU cracks down on ringtone scams targeting teens

(The Register)

Fewer Complaints About Mobile Content Services in the UK


70% of ringtone-scam websites cleaned following EU investigation


Winning the war against mobile phone scams


Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.