Leading consumer protection advocacy group Consumers Union is making the push for all consumers who make payments via their mobile phone to be afforded more security and protection from their wireless carrier.
“Consumers using mobile payments should get the same strong protections they currently enjoy when they make purchases with a credit card or debit card. But we found that consumer rights can vary widely between wireless carriers and the protections carriers claim to provide are often nowhere to be found in customer contracts,” said Michelle Jun, the senior attorney for Consumers Union, according to PRNewswire.
Technology giants such as Google and credit card payment processing companies MasterCard and Visa have all been gung-ho about getting consumers on board with mobile payments. However, retailers have been notably less enthusiastic and, according to Consumers Union, consumers should exercise caution when adopting the new payment method to ensure their transactions will be covered by adequate protection.
At the beginning of the summer, Consumers Union made a plea to all of the top wireless carriers to bolster the contracts of consumers to better protect them against fraudulent charges that may occur should a phone be stolen or lost, a merchant billing error or in the event a customer is unsatisfied with a purchase they made via their cellular phone. The advocacy group urged wireless providers to extend the same consumer protections that are mandated by law when purchases are made using a debit or credit card.
However, despite dialog on the issue being exchanged since May between the Consumers Union and representatives from T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint, the cellular carriers all assert that they currently provide sufficient consumer protections.
Consumers Union disagrees, having found that said protections availed to consumers by wireless carriers fall short of the safeguards in place when a debit or credit card is used to make purchases. Additionally, a fair amount of the protections cited by wireless carrier representatives to Consumers Union are not, in fact, disclosed in consumer contracts. This makes it tricky for consumers to know for certain whether or not they can depend upon those particular safeguards should problems arise.
“As new mobile payment options become available, consumers are better off sticking to services linked to credit cards or debit cards, which come with strong protections required by law,” advised Jun, as reported by PRNewswire.