[if IE] [endif]

League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

Mobibro IQ SMS Text Message Subscription Scam





By on March 3, 2012

MobiborIQ Mobibro IQ

Die Scammers!

Un freakin’ believable. Mobibro IQ / MobibroIQ – die you scammers!

Just lost two hours of my evening to a text message scam. Got a series of messages from “MobibroIQ” saying I was subscribed for $9.99 a month to a “Fun Facts” service. Needless to say, I never asked for this.

The first message read:

MobibroIQ Fun Facts billed at $9.99/mo. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Reply HELP for help. Enter UR password on the website to continue: 7263

I did nothing at this point, certainly didn’t “enter UR password on the website” (at the time I didn’t even know they had a web site). Moments later I got another text saying “Welcome to IQ!” and telling me to reply STOP to cancel.

Called AT&T and sure enough, there was a $9.99 charge on my bill. They credited it, but when I asked how this could happen, all they could say is that it is generated from a third party and there is nothing they can do about it, except block my number from being able to make text message purchases.

I discovered the scammers have a web site at www.mobibro.com. Their text messages came from 584-97. I’m trying to find a way to report them to my state’s attorney general office. The IQ Fun Facts text scam has also been run under other names, such as Chalkboard IQ, Mobchance, Brain Cool and GAGACell.

Were you aware that you could be subscribed and billed without any authorization on your part? Check your phone bills!

Pro Tip: From a friend on Facebook: I have seen a huge uptick in spam/junk SMS text messages to my phone. I hope you have not. If you have, forward the offending junk text to 7726. This works on AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint at least. The cell providers can then act to shut down the infected phone. It’s effective and free! Please repost/share this to help everyone fight junk texts!

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_spam
http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB115812&cv=820#fbid=wIObFiQqtpl

UPDATE!!: AT&T and Verizon agree to stop “cramming” phone bills. After pressure from an investigation started by NBC’s Today Show and then by the US Sentate, two of the largest telcoms have agreed to end the practice of allowing third parties to “subscribe” text message customers to their services without permission from the customer. The article notes that three major telcoms made over $165 million since 2006 by this practice.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: An alert person on Google+ just informed me that a careful read of the article linked above shows that AT&T and Verizon have agreed to end allowing third party charges on land lines only! In other words, this has no effect on wireless text messaging (SMS) services. Therefore, your only protection at this  point is to either discontinue your text service completely, or have your provider place a purchase block on your account.


Enhanced by Zemanta
email



Comments

  • Stepaway

    I got the same message today.   There was an 888# in the message, so I called it, got a guy at a call center in India and they “unsubscribed” me.  I then called AT&T and told them.  They said they didn’t see a charge yet, but would call me in 2 weeks to confirm.  AT&T offers a Parental Blocker – FOR FREE! – to stop these scammers.  Get it!

  • http://www.virante.com/blog Mark Traphagen

    The Parental Blocker to which you refer is the text purchase blocker I mentioned in my post. It has two components: blocking purchases and filtering adult messages. 

  • Tonya Hidalgo

    I just got this text and when I received the first message I knew I hadn’t signed up for anything nor did I want to so I replied with “Stop”–I immediately received a text from them stating This message confirms that I have discontinued & will no longer receive texts or charges from this service. Five minutes later I get the text again so again I replied “Stop” again & this time it replies w/ you aren’t subscribed to any services!! Should I call AT&T to double check my bill?

  • http://www.virante.com/blog Mark Traphagen

    Yes, Tonya, definitely call AT&T. STOP only stops the subscription, but if you’ve already been charged by them, then there will already be $9.99 on your bill. AT&T took it right off for me, and I also had them put the “no purchases” part of the Parental Controls for SMS on my number so it can’t happen again.

  • Tonya Hidalgo

    Thank you so much Mark for the quick reply!! I will call AT&T right now. I’ll let you know if the charge was on my bill already!

  • Tonya Hidalgo

    Mark, I just got off the phone with AT&T and there was in fact a charge on my account that was placed on March 16, 2012. The representative was very helpful and refunded the charge and put the free block that you suggested in your blog!! Thank you so much for your help.

  • http://www.virante.com/blog Mark Traphagen

    Glad you checked Tonya! That’s the way they’ve been making millions of dollars. Most people never bother to follow up, or even read their phone bills.

  • Ck L

    I got the same message 3 times today. When I got home from work, I called AT&T. They had in fact charged my account. AT&T removed the charges. I cannot figure out how they can charge my account when I know for a fact that I never agreed to a subscription. 

  • http://www.virante.com/blog Mark Traphagen

    It is maddening, isn’t it?

    Mark Traphagen
    Blog | Twitter|
    Google+

  • Kristy Thompson

    OMG I’M SO PISSED!  I just got off the phone with these mobibro people and ripped them a new one!!!!!  My husband and I noticed a $10 charge on this cell phone bill and then a RENEWAL charge by same company for next months bill!!!!  I had no idea what this charge was about, so I got the information from at&t and looked at some text messages I remember getting and ignoring, with the same number.  I was BOILING MAD and called the company up where I demanded them to tell me how I got signed up for this.  They told me I must have logged into the website and filled out in IQ test that will automatically sign me up for 9.99/ month charges on my cell phone bill.  ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?  I’m a 35 year old working mom of 2.  Do you REALLY think I’m going to find the time to log on to some stupid website to fill out a stupid IQ test and volunteer to pay $9.99 a month?  UNBELIEVABLE!  Needless to say, I told her that this scam they were running was completely unethical and that I demanded to talk to a supervisor.  So long story short he said he is sending me a check in the mail.  Which I don’t believe, so I’m calling at&t anyway.  I cannot believe companies can get away with this!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.virante.com/blog Mark Traphagen

    Yeah, I wouldn’t hold your breath for that check. Definitely call AT&T and have them remove the charges. Also have them put a purchase block on your text message account.

  • Ang613

    Had the same thing happen, twice. Once on my daughters phone, just a week or so ago – then on mine today. Definitely a scam. The customer care rep at AT&T asked if I’d taken an online IQ test recently, nope. However, I do remember on my Facebook account that I got a status update saying my niece had taken one. Wondering if they accessed my account info (including my phone #) through her “Friends list”…even though I have the strictest settings on my account. I have since removed my phone number from my FB account info.

  • James

    I just got off the phone with at&t. I had the charges removed from my bill no problem but here’s the thing..I spent five years working for At&t and know that these companies do this nonstop because large #s of ppl never look at their bill until after they get them for $50 or so. Then they assume their kids did it and the company gets away with it.
    If you were scammed by this company you need to file a complaint with the FTC at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/FTC_Wizard.aspx?Lang=en.
    When they receive enough this company will be investigated and possibly even sued for punitive damages by the government.
    DO NOT let them get away with it. It literally takes only five minutes to fill this form out.
    Cheers,
    James Sides

  • Wikiog

    I had a second message from mobibroiq, so looked them up. I’d treated the first several weeks ago like spam: do nothing, don’t open and certainly don’t write back. So when I saw this thread, called 611 to talk to AT&T. They refunded my $9.99 for the recent one, but it gets better. When I asked about the three week old one, the rep could not see it but could offer me a $30 credit. More than I paid, but one small blow for the consumer. One caution: AT&T offers several blocking options, but only one is free. Surprise, it’s the last one that comes after the legalese aimed at having you sign up for the $4.95 service while cancelling the $9.95 hassle!

This website uses a Hackadelic PlugIn, Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5.