| August 11, 2011

T-Mobile purchase method not as secure as credit

One of the nation’s top cellphone service providers recently announced a plan that will allow consumers to make purchases that are applied to their phone bill, but now some say this method may be problematic.

The plan from T-Mobile will allow customers to buy digital items online and have the charge applied to their phone bill at the end of the month rather than a credit card, according to a report from Consumers Union. However, unlike the use of credit or even debit cards, there is little fraud protection in place, meaning that consumers will be on the hook for any bogus purchases made on their account.

“If wireless carriers expect consumers to feel comfortable using mobile payment services, they need to provide at least the same level of protections that come with credit cards,” said Michelle Jun, senior attorney for Consumers Union. “T-Mobile and other wireless carriers can safeguard consumers from mobile payment fraud and mistakes by putting those protections in their contracts.”

Such a service is not, however, the same as the mobile wallet programs currently being developed by a number of mobile companies. Those are typically tied directly to a debit or credit account.

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