Wednesday, 21 Nov 2018

Google Chrome Update Targets Mobile Subscription Scams

A new update to Google Chrome will help prevent consumers from being scammed by unclear mobile subscription services.

“Every month, millions of Chrome users encounter pages with insufficient mobile subscription information. Surprising charges that come from unclear communication are a poor user experience. That’s why starting from Chrome 71 (December 2018), Chrome will show a warning before these pages, so that users can make informed decisions when signing up to mobile based subscription services. Users will be offered the choice to proceed to the page or go back if they were unaware that they were entering a billing page,” the company wrote in a blog post.

The update aims to protect users from the negative effects of carrier billing, which happens when web pages request that visitors input a mobile phone number in order to subscribe to a service, such as a mobile game. However, it’s not always clear how much they will be charged or if they are being charged at all — until their cell phone bill shows up.

According to Google, websites need to provide sufficient details within the billing page so that users know what to expect. With that in mind, the company expects pages to positively answer certain questions, such as: Is the billing information visible and obvious to users? Can customers easily see the costs they’re going to incur before accepting the terms? Is the fee structure easily understandable?

If Chrome detects pages that don’t provide sufficient billing information, a warning will be displayed to the user on Chrome mobile, Chrome desktop and Android’s WebView.

“When we identify such pages, we will notify the webmaster through Search Console where there will be an option to let us know about the changes they’ve made to clarify the billing process. For websites that aren’t verified on Search Console, we will do our best to get in touch with the webmasters affected and will be available to answer questions in our public support forum available in 15 languages. Once an appeal has been sent via Search Console, we will review the changes and remove the warning accordingly,” Google added.