How to block companies from stealing your airtime

MyBroadband recently reported that fraudsters are using a gateway developed by Vodacom to steal millions in airtime from its subscribers.

These rogue Wireless Application Service Providers (WASPs) have been stealing airtime from mobile users on a mass scale for years.

While exact figures about airtime theft is a closely guarded secret, industry estimates suggest that billions in airtime have been stolen from mobile subscribers in South Africa over the last decade.

There have been numerous calls for mobile operators to block WASP billing by default, but these calls have fallen on deaf ears.

Some consolation is that mobile operators make it possible for subscribers to block premium content subscriptions and WASP billing.

If you have been a victim of airtime theft, you can lodge a complaint with the Wireless Access Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) to claim your money back.

Ellipsis provided the guidelines below on how to protect yourself against airtime theft.

  • Unsubscribe from WASP subscription services using the methods listed below.
  • Don’t ignore messages saying you are subscribed to a particular service and giving you an option to unsubscribe. If you’re getting “welcome” messages, you’re being billed.
  • Check your cellphone statements for content charges. If you’re on prepaid, monitor your balance.
  • Be mobile-savvy – think twice before entering your cell number and beware of clicking on banners and links without reading the fine print. Many are subscription services, albeit legitimate ones.

The table below provides an overview of what you can do to prevent WASP billing and what to do when your airtime has been stolen.

Stop WASPs from stealing your airtime

What to do if your airtime was stolen.
Report unwanted billing Click here
Lodge a complaint Click here
Contact WASPA for help Click here
Check if you are subscribed to WASP services.
Vodacom Send “Stop All” to 31050 (If you receive a message saying it was unsuccessful, you weren’t subscribed to anything).
Dial *111# >> Select option 8 (Services) >> Select option 11 (Next) >> Select option 2 (Content Services) >> Select option 1 (View and Stop Content Services)
MTN Dial *155# >> Select option 1 (View and Unsubscribe)
Cell C Dial *133*1# to view active subscriptions.
Cell C subscribers can see content subscriptions on their invoice under call charges where there is a line item called “Content Services”.
Telkom Use the Telkom Mobile app and navigate to My Product > Subscriptions > Content Services.
How to unsubscribe from or block WASP services.
Vodacom Send “Stop All” to 31050
Call customer care on 135
Dial *111# >> Select option 8 (Services) >> Select option 11 (Next) >> Select option 2 (Content Services) >> Select option 1 (View and Stop Content Services)
Prepaid – Dial *135# >> 12 >> 1 >> 10 >> 1 >> 3 OR *111# >> 12 >> 1 >> 10 >> 1 >> 3
MTN Dial *155# >> Select option 1 (View and Unsubscribe) >> Select option 1 (Cancel All)
Cell C Dial *133*1# to view and cancel any active subscriptions.
Telkom Manage your WASP subscriptions within the Telkom Mobile app by navigating to My Product > Subscriptions > Content Services.
You can also navigate to My Products > Manage > Protect Your Mobile Number, and set it to “On” to prevent any future WASP billing.

Now read: Fraud and airtime theft on Vodacom’s network

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How to block companies from stealing your airtime