I.T. Support - Phone Companies scam consumers by using typosquatting sites.
Two large premium rate phone companies have been fine £100,000 for typo squatting on their competitors.
The ruling said the customers were being “misled” by the company’s actions and were ordered to refund the callers that fell into the trap.
Typosquatters use misspelled variations of popular web addresses.
They rely on human error when typing in a popular web address, to steal a competitor’s web traffic.
“Premium-rate phone regulator PhonepayPlus said Amsterdam-based R&D Media Europe and Una Valley BV used typosquatted sites.” The BBC news correspondent stated.
The typosquatted sites resembled their competitors and failed to provide clear information about pricing.
The competitions comprised of giving participants the impression that entering contact details and answering a few questions would enable them to receive prizes from the website.
Unfortunately for the unknowing participants of these competitions they start to receive text messages asking them quiz or survey questions, each message received cost £1.50, and a further £1.50 was charged for replying.
PhonepayPlus the Premium-rate phone regulator, said Amsterdam-based R&D Media Europe and Una Valley BV used unlawful tactics to fool consumers.
PhonepayPlus revealed one such victim was charged £63 after using a site mimicking the look of the popular video blogging site YouTube.
The organisation is responsible for sanctioning all premium-rate telephone service providers, who operate within the UK.
PayphonePlus say that “all providers are obliged to register with the organisation and abide by our code of practice over fair use.”
R&D Media Europe and Una Valley BV breached this code of practice.
PhonepayPlus’ tribunal has ordered the two phone companies to issue refunds to those affected by the scam.
Paul Whiteing, the organisation’s chief executive said: “These judgements send a clear message to providers that they cannot play on the public’s trust in well-known websites to promote services.”
R&D Media Europe nor Una Valley BV, were not available for comment.
Vice-president of brand protection firm Mark Monitor, Charlie Abrahams, told the BBC that
“The infringer is preying on the possibility of the consumer missing out a dot or making a mistake,”
“It is breaking the law by attempting to make profit by impersonating a trademark.”