Skype was pretty amazing when it first came out: great voice quality and calling rates for worldwide destinations that didn't require a second mortgage.

That was then and now Skype is kind of handy with several other competitors offering similar features and the voice over internet application and network is owned and controlled by Microsoft.

And, Microsoft seems to handle Skype security issues in a very strange fashion.

Will Roffé of brand agency Fearless in Hamilton was alarmed when he saw that two debits, one for 50 euro and another for 25 euro (NZ$117 in total) had been made against his Skype account.


Will checked the details of the transaction, and found an order number and delivery note to a Skype account he'd never heard of before. Plus, he noticed that A$5 had been docked from his Skype credit when he logged in to the app.

Did you know that Skype could be used for payments?

That was news to me as well, and it doesn't seem to be documented anywhere.

I contacted Microsoft about that new feature, and received a "thanks for reaching out" non-answer.

As any sane Skype customer discovering dodgy transactions on his or her account would do, Will contacted Skype support. That is, he tried to contact them.

He gave the first day after two hours on hold in the number ten spot in the queue, but got through to Skype the next day.

What happened next is very Kafkaesque: Will's account got blocked by Microsoft after he reported the suspected fraud, and he was made to change his password.

The last bit took several tries but eventually, the password was changed and Will's account was "un-suspended" by Skype.

All good, Will thought, and asked if he could get a refund for the fraudulent transactions.

That should've been an easy one, but sixteen hours afterwards, Will got an email from Skype saying his account had been suspended again, because... uhh, suspected fraud.

Because of that, Will would have to complete another form on the Skype website to prove he is who he says he is, and to change the account password. Again.

Later on, Skype contacted Will to say that since this was a case of gifting credits, he could not get a refund. The two refunds he got were because the payments didn't go through at Paypal. In other words, Will could've been over $125 out of pocket here.

If you do use Skype, keep an eye on your account in case there are any untowards transactions on it.


I sent off a few queries about Will's situation to Microsoft in the United States, thinking they'd provide a good answer like normally happens.

What's going on here, is there a vulnerability with Skype that allows random people take money from customer accounts?

How does this happen, how many times has it happened and what will Microsoft do to stop that kind of fraud with Skype?

The response I got from Microsoft was... meaningless:

"At Skype, we want to make sure our users have the best experience possible. Our Customer Service team works closely with our customers to resolve any issues when verifying account information by requesting specific details that are only known to the account holder. This is to ensure that no fraudulent activity has occurred on an account.

For more details and information on how to contact customer service, you can visit our Skype Support Site."

Microsoft: you can do better than this, especially with Skype.


You might very well think so Skype, but Will's experience this month tells another story.

I tried some more to get answers out of Microsoft as to what had actually happened, but no explanation was forthcoming.

We're none the wiser though as to what happened, but it looks like there's a flaw in how Skype handles account credit gifting that Microsoft doesn't want to talk about. The account that received Will's money is gone; who knows how many others were defrauded by the person?

If you do use Skype, keep an eye on your account in case there are any untowards transactions on it, and be prepared for a complicated song and dance routine when you file a complaint.

You probably won't get your money back either, if Will's experience is anything to go by.

Microsoft: you can do better than this, especially with Skype.