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shamrin

join:2001-01-08
Lexington, KY

[Skype] Beware Skype Auto-recharge

I've been a paying Skype customer since 2003 and have been quite happy with the product until today. Let me pass on what I learned to perhaps save someone else the grief I got.

Over the course of about 12 hours yesterday, someone made a series of 2-hour phone calls to a single mobile phone in Taiwan. These calls somehow got billed to me. Having worked in software development for telecom billing for 15 or so years, I know that this kind of thing happens all the time - people are always getting billed for the wrong calls, it happens every day. But according to Skype, not to them.

It is Skype's policy that any charges that appear on your bill are your responsibility, because their systems "are so secure". The customer service rep I chatted with agreed with me that the calls were fraudulent but then laid the blame on me, "you must have a virus or someone may have guessed your password". There is no-way no-how that they will take these calls off my bill.

The calls add up to well over $100. The reason that they could get that high is because I have Auto-recharge on my account. With this feature, you give Skype your credit card and when your prepaid account gets low, they bill you in increments of $10. Well, as these calls (either fraudulent or wrongly billed) tallied up, the auto-recharge function just kept the meter running.

It will take some time for me to sort out getting another service, but Skype will surely lose me as a customer over this. If I had it to do again, I would not allow Skype to auto-recharge (which is turned on by default when you give them your credit card so watch out). This would have at least limited the damage to whatever small amount I had in the account.

I will forgo a major rant about what poor customer service (and how unprecedented) it is for a phone company to refuse to refund calls that it even admits are fraudulent. But it's worth mentioning.

/sch
--
I have no opinion, therefore I do not exist


burgerwars

join:2004-09-11
Northridge, CA
Dispute the charge with your credit card company. Hopefully not only will your card company reverse it (you shouldn't be since you're not responsible for fraud), they should reverse Skype from also getting the money.

After that, maybe you should dump Skype and don't look back.

PX Eliezer70
Premium
join:2008-08-09
Hutt River
kudos:13
Reviews:
·callwithus
·voip.ms
reply to shamrin
I agree w/ burgerwars that you should dispute this with your credit card company, especially pointing out that you have been a Skype customer for seven (7) years, and that the calls were totally outside of your normal usage pattern.

My wife used to be a software engineer. I learned from reading her journals and such how fracked up everything is.

If Skype says that its systems are "totally secure" and "totally free from error" they are full of crap on both counts, as you and I both know.

--------------------------------------

If you want to seek an alternative, there are many good providers, with friendly customer service departments, that are available to you.

Thanks very much for posting about this!


shamrin

join:2001-01-08
Lexington, KY
reply to burgerwars
Disputing it with my credit card company looks like my only recourse at this point. The Skype rep told me to do that as well which is just strange. They could just go "poof" and fix it or they could make me do paperwork with my bank, then the bank to paperwork with them, then a lot of phone calls back and forth - what's the point?
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I have no opinion, therefore I do not exist

PX Eliezer70
Premium
join:2008-08-09
Hutt River
kudos:13
Reviews:
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The point is that the Skype worker may not have the authority to do that.

Or even if he does have the authority to fix it, it will still get him into trouble with his bosses.

OTOH, if you dispute it with your credit card company, that's an action you are taking, and the worker at Skype will not be blamed for it.

PX Eliezer70
Premium
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Hutt River
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1 edit
reply to shamrin
And---

When you deal with companies like CallCentric, Voip.MS, PhonePower, VOIPo, and so forth, you are dealing with companies that are small enough to give personal attention.

By contrast. Skype is a huge company, owned by a bunch of rich bigshots and still partly owned by eBay. Dealing with the Skype bureaucracy---one may as well be dealing with Sears or AT&T.

pcunite

join:2010-04-10
reply to shamrin
Filing a chargeback could also get your account closed to if you tick 'em off.

zxt

join:2007-07-28
Los Angeles, CA
reply to shamrin
PX is right. That's the drawback dealing with big companies...they don't have the personal touch.


shamrin

join:2001-01-08
Lexington, KY
reply to PX Eliezer70
Point taken.

Of course the rep I spoke with, and the supervisor I spoke with after, did not have authority to issue a refund, that's clear. And to your point, had I been dealing with a smaller company I might have been able to talk to the president of the company about the problem.

But this issue, IMO is about a deliberate policy at Skype of "F" the customer. I mean that literally. How else could a policy like that come up? You have a big meeting, everyone's there and someone asks, "What do we do in the case of a customer with fraudulent calls on his bill and s/he disputes them?" The answer in that meeting HAD to be something like, "Hmmm, look, we're the cheapest service on the block, let's not mess with refunds, it's expensive and time consuming. F*** 'em, let them dispute it with their credit card company. Next."

/sch
--
I have no opinion, therefore I do not exist

PX Eliezer70
Premium
join:2008-08-09
Hutt River
kudos:13
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1 recommendation

I think you are right about that, and we are basically in agreement here.

And they should have looked at your long record, and realized that you were NOT someone who signed up a week earlier with the intent of scamming them.

You are right. They said "frack you", so your response unfortunately must be in kind.

-----------------------

A final thought: They at least should have investigated the possibility of fraud or error on their system. At a minimum, see if calls were made to that Taiwan cellphone from any other accounts.

PX Eliezer70
Premium
join:2008-08-09
Hutt River
kudos:13
And---I blame both Skype AND your credit card company for not detecting the fraud pattern inherent in multiple recharges within one day.

Both should have software to flag that!

Rastan

join:2007-04-25
Canada
Reviews:
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reply to shamrin
Your situation is different than mine but I brought up an issue with Skype's billing practice recently - »(Resolved) [Skype] Question about Skype billing

Not only is Skype's security lax, it's also deceptive. If someone manages to hack into your Skype account, they can then purchase credits using your PayPal account, without actually logging into your PayPal account. It's all part of the billing agreement that's automatically created in your PayPal account after you purchase Skype credits.

Anyway, I hope you get this sorted out. Let us know how it all turns out. Disputing charges can be difficult so make sure that you state your case to your credit card provider very clearly. I'm guessing that Skype will attempt to convince them that since the calls came from your account, it's not fraud and that you're responsible.

Good luck and it's good to hear that you're switching to another provider.


burgerwars

join:2004-09-11
Northridge, CA
If you somehow set up an auto-pay function on PayPal (even by accident), it can be removed logging into PayPal (I forgot where it is, but it's there).

Nothing on the internet is 100% secure. I can't see how Skype can claim their stuff is so secure that it must be your fault. Even so, you're protected. If not, if you lost your credit card you would have to pay for all its unauthorized charges.

As far as PayPal, I would suggest changing your password, although that by itself doesn't stop auto-payments. Don't ever use the same password for both PayPal and Skype.

esther

join:2009-06-26
reply to shamrin
I'm sorry to read your story,
but I don't think Skype owes you anything.

You don't have any proof this theft is caused by negligent security on Skype end, or that any other VOSP with 'auto recharge' is safer than Skype.
You have only assumptions in your hands. Assumptions and anger.

Maybe you logged into your account in a public computer with a keylogger installed....maybe someone remotely installed a trojan/keylogeer on your machine.... and maybe the cracker who hacked your password is a genius who can even crack Paypal & Ebay. (nothing is 100% secure)

Does that mean Skype must believe anyone who try to get 100$ back?

I've worked in Thailand and Indonesia years ago, and used to visit internet-cafes sometimes. So many times I found Skype clients opened full of credit inside. People just forgot to sign-out their accounts. Theoretically I could use these accounts to make hours of expensive calls.

As about your credit card company - I'm sure you're not entitled to any refund either, since by activating the auto-recharge you contributed to the situation. it's not a new independent purchase made by a thief with your CC. It's only between you and Skype

Mango
What router are you using?
Premium
join:2008-12-25
www.toao.net
kudos:13
Reviews:
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1 recommendation

It is indeed difficult to determine fault. However, if I were the OP, Skype would also lose me as a customer.

As PX said, Skype should have a maximum on the number of auto-recharges per day. Over 10 auto-recharges in 12 hours is absolutely suspicious. Skype's systems cannot possibly be "so secure" if this slipped by whatever they do for fraud prevention.

And, auto-recharge should NOT be turned on by default under any circumstances.

m.
--
Recommended ATA Settings | e164 - make your DID accessible via SIPBroker! | Tips for Reliable Internet Faxing

PX Eliezer70
Premium
join:2008-08-09
Hutt River
kudos:13

1 recommendation

I'm sure that Skype's fraud detection is up to par with that of their former majority owners, eBay !!


shamrin

join:2001-01-08
Lexington, KY
reply to Mango
Actually they do have a monthly limit on the auto-recharge that is, I guess, meant to prevent utterly unchecked fraud. It would be a stretch to call this fraud prevention as running through the limit in a single day is permitted (and it's without regard to normal calling or billing patterns). I have the sense it is set at the limit that Skype has the bollox to tell fraud victims that they have to pay anyway. It is apparently set at $100 if you are denominated in dollars and £100 if you are in GBP as I was.

/sch
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I have no opinion, therefore I do not exist

PX Eliezer70
Premium
join:2008-08-09
Hutt River
kudos:13
Well, thank heavens for that anyway! Glad it saved you something!

But IMHO you do have something to pursue with your credit card issuer.

Please let us know the outcome.


Arne Bolen
Happy Anveo customer
Premium
join:2009-06-21
Cyberspace
kudos:4
Reviews:
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reply to burgerwars
said by burgerwars:

If you somehow set up an auto-pay function on PayPal (even by accident), it can be removed logging into PayPal (I forgot where it is, but it's there).
When a Skype user tops up his account with PayPal Skype automatically sets the transaction to a recurring transaction without asking or informing the user.

When using PayPal with Skype it is very important to log into your PayPal account as soon as possible and delete the recurring transaction. Go to Profile > Financial Information > Pay List. Here you can see the Skype recurring transaction and click on it to delete it.
--
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esther

join:2009-06-26
reply to shamrin
I think publishing here the Taiwanese phone numbers that caused you these losses, would be a good idea.
There may be some readers from Taiwan in this forum.
Internet is full of surprises, one thing leads to another and this might be a turning point.


shamrin

join:2001-01-08
Lexington, KY
said by esther:

I think publishing here the Taiwanese phone numbers that caused you these losses, would be a good idea.
There may be some readers from Taiwan in this forum.
Internet is full of surprises, one thing leads to another and this might be a turning point.
It's no skin off my nose if the mods don't mind, the number is +886973660248 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +886973660248      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
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I have no opinion, therefore I do not exist


shamrin

join:2001-01-08
Lexington, KY
reply to PX Eliezer70
You're going to love this.

Skype are now going to cancel my account in 2 days because my account balance has gone to zero (due to the fraudulent calls they refuse to refund) so I need to recharge the account. I decided to use my Citibank card because I can create virtual account numbers for it and they are at least a little safer. The transactions to add $10 to my Skype account were getting rejected over and over by Citibank. I called Citibank and spoke to their fraud department who told me that they do not accept charges from Skype due to the recent high fraud rate on transactions coming from Skype. They told me I need to use a different card.

Wow! I'm thinking of starting a new thread on this with the title "Massive fraud on Skype" so that it's more googleable

/sch
--
I have no opinion, therefore I do not exist


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
For some reason auto recharge stopped working on Skype. We really didn't care since we could use Google Voice after 7PM, so I never pursued why it stopped working. Now I wonder if this is why.
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standard disclaimers apply.


Arne Bolen
Happy Anveo customer
Premium
join:2009-06-21
Cyberspace
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reply to shamrin
This article is interesting

"Skype Operated by Thieves and Liars/Website Not Secure/No Customer Support"
»www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=76786
--
Linksys IP Phone SPA962 - Gigaset S685IP
VoIP.ms - Voxalot - Callcentric - Localphone - Rebtel - Gigaset.net - Google Voice

PX Eliezer70
Premium
join:2008-08-09
Hutt River
kudos:13
Reviews:
·callwithus
·voip.ms

1 edit
reply to shamrin
said by shamrin:

You're going to love this.

Skype are now going to cancel my account in 2 days because my account balance has gone to zero (due to the fraudulent calls they refuse to refund) so I need to recharge the account. I decided to use my Citibank card because I can create virtual account numbers for it and they are at least a little safer. The transactions to add $10 to my Skype account were getting rejected over and over by Citibank. I called Citibank and spoke to their fraud department who told me that they do not accept charges from Skype due to the recent high fraud rate on transactions coming from Skype. They told me I need to use a different card.

Wow! I'm thinking of starting a new thread on this with the title "Massive fraud on Skype" so that it's more googleable

/sch
I think you should !!

hfrisch

join:2007-02-13
Holmdel, NJ
reply to shamrin
I normally use Callcentric for this type of call - at Callcentric rates, even if you were connected to a Taiwan Mobile phone for the whole 12 hours you would only get to about $60, not $100 (0.084 * 12 * 60 =$60.48). At published Skype rates ($.11/minute), you're still under $80 for a solid 12 hours of calling. If they are showing multiple calls at the same time to the same Taiwan number, then I'd be curious to know how that might work (could you have been holding 2 lines with call waiting?). Alternately, the SKype billing system may be having a problem - which is what I'd tell the credit card company.


shamrin

join:2001-01-08
Lexington, KY
said by hfrisch:

I normally use Callcentric for this type of call - at Callcentric rates, even if you were connected to a Taiwan Mobile phone for the whole 12 hours you would only get to about $60, not $100 (0.084 * 12 * 60 =$60.48). At published Skype rates ($.11/minute), you're still under $80 for a solid 12 hours of calling. If they are showing multiple calls at the same time to the same Taiwan number, then I'd be curious to know how that might work (could you have been holding 2 lines with call waiting?). Alternately, the SKype billing system may be having a problem - which is what I'd tell the credit card company.
Well, the numbers are off because I'm converting loosely from British Pounds to USD. The actual call rate was £0.057/min. which should be about $0.088. I looked to see if the calls overlap but they don't, they are consecutive with only tiny gaps in between of a few minutes. The calls go from 7am to 2am the next morning. I'm still trying to guess what kind of legitimate call would use this kind of pattern, it seems to me that it must be strictly designed to drain someones account.
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I have no opinion, therefore I do not exist