ISP faces $1m fine for stealing from customers

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ISP faces $1m fine for stealing from customers

ACMA flexes its regulatory muscle.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has taken action against Perth-based ISP Web Ace for allegedly taking money from its customer's bank and credit card accounts without proper authorisation.

ACMA today announced it had directed the ISP to comply with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code C628:2007. Failure to comply could lead to a $1 million fine.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said the organisation would use its regulatory powers whenever necessary to enforce compliance and protect the ISP's customers from "fraudulent billing practices".

"In issuing this direction, the ACMA has taken enforcement action to ensure that Web Ace's customers will enjoy the same consumer protections afforded by the code as are available to customers of other telecommunications providers," said Chapman in a statement.

According to ACMA, Jason Kenneth McKay, who trades as Web Ace, has been "deducting money from customers' credit card accounts without their authority" and refunds have "proved difficult, if not impossible".

ACMA claims customers who authorised bill payment through automatic direct debits were surprised when "Web Ace would take money from their accounts at other times and for different amounts, without their prior knowledge or consent".

Under the code, customers are required to be billed before a direct debit can take place so they have "an opportunity to view, query or dispute the bill".

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