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Getting third-party charges on your mobile phone bill? Here is how you can track them. Image Credit: Stock image

Dubai: Ever taken a closer look at your telecom bill each month? If you notice charges for services that you have not subscribed to, which are not directly from your telecommunications provider, you may have unknowingly subscribed to a third-party service. Even though these charges can be low, the monthly recurring payments can chip away at your budget. A Gulf News reader, who faced a similar issue, wrote in sharing her experience.

The reader said: “I would like to bring to Gulf News’ attention that etisalat has been billing me for some third party charges. I called the customer service department of etisalat and they said that I had clicked a link on a pop-up ad on my phone, due to which I am being billed for these charges. I have been disputing this, as I had not subscribed to any such thing out of my own will. I have not filled in any personal information or any payment verification, either. They then told me to be careful when clicking on anything that comes up on the phone. They also confirmed that the company is a general partner for some of these sites. They also went to the extent of telling me that I had filled in a one-time password (OTP), which I received via a text message. I checked my entire SMS inbox but there was no such OTP received, nor did I ever fill in such an OTP since I do not even know what this third party website is! The irony is that this is happening to me for the second time.”

Gulf News raised the reader’s queries with Etisalat. The company provided details on what third party charges are and how customers can track any such service charges they may be paying.

How does a mobile customer get subscribed to third party services?

Etisalat: Subscribers usually see ads on their mobile devices based on their browsing patterns and activities. Such advertisements usually appear on various social media platforms.

Users have to go through a process to subscribe to a third party service. This means that all customers subscribe to third party services by clicking on an ad appearing on any of the social media platforms. The process involves completing the registration, which is a three-step process mainly clicking the banner, entering the OTP, and final confirmation or submission of interest.

Third-party services may pop up as ads on your phone. Image Credit: Stock image

Does it apply only to postpaid customers? How do prepaid customers check if they have inadvertently subscribed to third party services?

Etisalat: Customers get a confirmation SMS upon subscription that contains all details of the service including how to unsubscribe.

Can postpaid customers check if they had subscribed to third-party services even before a bill is generated?

Etisalat: Users are sent a subscription confirmation message when they subscribe to service. This SMS contains all details of charges/free trial/cancellation method of service. Additionally all deductions are shown on ‘My Etisalat UAE App’. The extra consolidated charges are shown under postpaid account ‘Usage charges for current month’, which contains all extra charges including out of contract usage, premium services and third party services. For daily charges user can check `View Statement` which has the details including contract usage, premium services and third-party services.

How does a subscriber avoid subscription to third party services?

Etisalat: Subscribers must avoid providing mobile numbers on websites without reading the terms and conditions. Customers should not enter the OTP, which is a consent to subscribe unless they have agreed to all the service details and relevant terms and conditions.

Subscribers are urged to download My Etisalat App to check and manage their usage and subscriptions. All details are available in the app including usage and billing details.