This might have happened to you: You receive a spam message asking you to subscribe to a shady phone service you have no interest in. You ignore it and think that’s probably the best way to deal with spam, until later you realize you have been charged for that service and are told that you have agreed to sign up for it.
If this ever happens to you, don’t hesitate to report it to the police. With Indonesians spending more and more on telecommunication, this kind of fraud is ever more pervasive and alarming, prompting strong protests from angry consumers against phone service providers and the government as regulator.
Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring admitted that he had been flooded with complaints from victims of such a fraud since July. His ministry has summoned the country’s major players in the telecommunication industry to clarify the matter and set up a hotline number for victims to report their cases. The phone number is 159.
“For anyone having their phone credits sliced, just dial 159. If there’s indication of criminal wrongdoing, we will report it to the police,” the minister said.
The first consumer to lodge a complaint to the police was Feri Kuntoro. He claimed that he had been charged Rp 15,000 (about US$1.5) per month for a ring back tone service he never subscribed to. In his complaints, he also said he kept receiving messages from phone number 9113 and had his phone bill inflated after registering for a lottery service. He claimed that he had tried to unregister but to no avail.
The company that runs the lottery service is not happy with Feri’s move. It has reported Feri to the police for defamation. But this has not deterred him. Feri has asked for protection from the Witness and Victim Protection Agency, LPSK, and still plans to proceed with
Phone service consumers have persevered and put up a page on Facebook protesting the practice of “phone credit stealing using mobile content [subscription] modus”. The page creator states that “stealing phone credit by way of selling mobile content is not a business, but a rip off that costs the consumers”. So far, 17,686 people have “liked” the page.