Consumer Group Seeks Protections for Disputed Mobile Payments

Consumer advocates want the top wireless carriers to provide those who use their smart phones for mobile payments with the same protections provided by issuers of credit and debit cards.
Most cell phone and tablet users can purchase products and charge them to their monthly bill or prepaid phone account.
Since May, Consumers Union – the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports – has been talking with representatives from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless to determine how the carriers handle disputed mobile payment transactions.
All four carriers maintain that they provide ample protections for consumers.
But the organization said these protections “fall short of what consumers get when they use credit cards and debit cards or when California consumers report a disputed charge on their phone accounts.”
Consumers Union want the carriers to voluntarily do what the regulations adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission already does for Californians: apply stronger protections if mobile payment transactions are disputed by the consumer.
Here are the three primary protections being sought for mobile payments already available for users of credit or debit cards:

  • A customer’s liability is limited to no more than $50 for unauthorized charges.
  • If a billing error appears on a monthly credit card statement, there is no liability for the customer as long as the customer reports the error within 60 days.
  • After a consumer reports a fraudulent transaction involving a debit card, the bank must either complete its investigation within 10 business days or provisionally re-credit the consumer’s funds within that time.

For more details, see Consumers Union’s How Top Wireless Carriers Compare on Consumers Protections for Mobile Payments.
For mobile payment tips for consumers, see: Mobile Payments Tip Sheet: What Can Consumers Do Now.

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