Telemarketers busted for bogus debits

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Johannesburg - More than 100 telemarketing companies have been blacklisted for debiting consumers for services they did not provide, the Payments Association of SA (Pasa) said on Tuesday.

Some of these companies were guilty of fraudulent transactions where banking details of individuals were obtained illegally, Pasa CEO Walter Volker said in a statement.

Efforts were under way “to weed out the rotten apples” in the industry. More than 120 000 of the 31 million payment orders processed monthly had been disputed by consumers.

Volker said once a telemarketing company had been blacklisted by them, the names, identity (ID) numbers and physical addresses of the owners and directors of the companies were listed.

“By keeping track of address details as well as ID numbers, it makes it easier to spot when they reappear under a different guise.”

He advised banks to educate the public to check and verify whether any of the deductions made on their accounts were fraudulent or made without their consent.

Fred Steffers, a managing director of payment systems company PS and S, said when telemarketing companies made illegal deductions from consumers, this resulted in debit orders having to be reversed at some considerable cost to his company.

“We recently had to blacklist a number of companies because of the very high rejection rate of payment orders by the banks concerned where clients disputed the deductions.”

Volker and Steffers agreed that relatively unsophisticated consumers were at the greatest risk because they did not know how to dispute illegal debit order deductions.

“I would also urge consumers who have been defrauded to register a case of fraud against the telemarketer with their nearest police station so that legal action can be taken against these scammers,” Steffers said.

Volker said a shortfall of the Pasa Bad User List was that members of the public did not have access to it.

“For legal reasons it is only being made available to banks so that they can identify debit orders emanating from these blacklisted entities and stop payment before it is processed,” Volker said.


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