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Some iPhone Customers Hit With Premium Rate Calls

2:59 pm on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Some iPhone Customers Hit With Premium Rate Calls [theregister.co.uk]
A combination of failures has resulted in some iPhone users incurring premium-rate call charges, for calls they didn't know they were making.

Punters who downloaded the free, advertising supported Bubblewrap game from Orsome NZ have spotted the application calling premium-rate numbers, and incurring premium-rate charges, without warning.

Peter Watling, author of Bubblewrap, told us the blame must lie with the embedded advert engine from AdMob. Companies like AdMob provide a small chunk of code that developers can drop into their application. The code collects advertisements from the AdMob server and displays them to the user, with the developer then getting a cut of the advertising revenue. Most adverts are passive affairs, but some encourage the user to interact by tapping on the ad to jump to a website or place a call.
3:26 pm on Jan 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It was only a matter if time. The smart phone will become the target of choice for many hackers simply because they can more or less make it send money.

The network providers could act now, and make premium rate charging opt in. As it stands most providers enable this function by default.

If you are worried you can ask your provider to de-provision this at your account level.


11:41 pm on Feb 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I question the validity of the statement "for calls they did not know they were making" given that the iphone software development kit does not provide programmatic methods to initiate phone calls without the user's explicit acceptance via screen tap. It says "Place call to: 12345678 ok cancel" right on the screen and this process is the only way to get your software code to initiate a call. This aside, it is quite possible that people did not understand that the calls they were accepting to make were in fact to premium numbers. Overall a bummer for all the end users involved!