Mobile Academy et al...

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I have read many posts on people stung with bills from sites like Mobile Academy, or Mobitrans, or other gaming sites that charge £1.50 to £4.00 per week as a subscription. The complaint is that people didn't sign up for these services. They also seem limited to certain providers, EE being a prime culprit.

While this isn't a scam in the truest sense of the word it is actually highly misleading advertising. When you download a free app to a phone it will generally tell you that there are in-app purchases. What it doesn't tell you is that this is generally these sorts of sites. MyFitness Pal is one that does this. In order to use this app you have to be online to access the database. You may notice an advertising banner at the bottom of the screen, really, really small, isn't it? Well, that's the start of the problem. This banner is served by a company called Ad Choices (the logo looks a bit like the iPlayer logo). Ad Choices claims to be a site that serves up advertising based on your browser history, but it appears as though free mobile apps send it cookie data that forces it to serve up premium rate sites like Mobile Academy and the rest. Cunningly, being at the bottom of the page the banner is right where the phone buttons are and also where smudges are most likely to be left. The mobitrans one serves up a page that pops up right in front of you with a massive "ACTIVATE" button. In a hurry it's easy to press.

So what can you do? If you really like the app and will use it a lot then consider buying it. The 1 or 2 pounds might be worth the removal of the agrevation. Have a look for an ad-blocker. If the app doesn't require internet access to use then turn the internet off before using it. Clean the bottom of the phone screen to avoid accidental activation. Be careful when pressing things around the ad banner.
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