Victims of premium rate scammers must be refunded

5 Jan 2011

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ComReg has been called on by Labour communications spokesperson Liz McManus TD to protect consumers from premium rate scammers and refund them where necessary.

“Responsibility for the regulation of Premium Rate Services was transferred by way of legislation from RegTel to ComReg in July 2010,” said Deputy McManus. “During debates in the Dáil at the time, I warned that protecting phone customers from premium rate scams must include the provision to refund customers who have been unfairly ripped off.

“RegTel, the previous regulator for this area, had the ability to provide refunds. It now seems that the draft code of practice as issued by ComReg fails to make a provision for refunds, unlike its predecessor, RegTel.

“There are valid concerns arising from ComReg’s draft code of practice that there will be a weakening of protection for phone customers. It is possible that rogue telecoms companies will be left to rip customers off without rigorous regulation, as provided by RegTel in the past.”

McManus claims there has been a worrying increase in the use of Premium Rate Services by the national broadcaster, RTE, which she says has consistently refused to provide information about the money it is making from these services.

Accountability

“This failure to provide information raises concerns again about the divergence between ComReg and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) which could result in a lack of accountability. I have called for one Regulator, combining ComReg and the BAI, to be established and I believe this issue underlies the importance in having one regulator rather than two regulators.

“In relation to premium rate services, I am urging ComReg to protect phone customers and to ensure that there will not be a watering down of phone customers’ rights,” McManus said.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com