Ofcom (the people who regulate the telephones) have announced a new phone scam they’ve found where users ‘miss’ a call from an 0845 number but then get billed up to £300 for the call!
Users are receiving phone calls lasting seconds but then getting charged for a 3 hour – 12 hour call back.
What is more worrying is this isn’t a one off, with reports from Vodafone, EE and O2 customers of similar happening with them!
Also, the customer never answer the original calls, so it’s nothing they could have done wrong.
Who has had issues? (mainly Vodafone customers it seems)
- Daphne Bagnell from Shirley, near Solihull, had a £90 bill (normally £9) – Vodafone insisted she paid it
- Diana Dentithl, Lowestoft, in Suffolk, £375 phone call to an 0845 number – Vodafone insisted she paid it – The firm has since removed the charges, but only after she complained in the media.
- Gillian Innes, 69, from Ripon, North Yorkshire, £176.81 bill (normally £17.90 per month)
- Ruth Dance, from Bracknell, Berkshie was hit with a bill for £300 from Vodafone (normally £35 per month), the number was linked with Money Help Marketing.
A spokesman for Ofcom said:
‘We are very concerned to hear of a number of people receiving mobile charges they didn’t expect. Ofcom is working with the mobile operators, industry experts and partner regulators to establish the causes and address the problem.
‘We are pleased that Vodafone is blocking suspicious numbers and refunding affected customers. We advise those who believe they are affected to contact their phone company promptly’.
When Money Mail called some of the numbers used in the scam, we got through to the answerphones of several different claims management firms touting flight delay compensation.
What should I do (Source: Ofcom)
If you receive a missed call on your mobile phone from a number you don’t recognise, think twice before calling it back.
That’s because there’s a chance if you do ring back, you’ll fall victim to a scam which could leave you out of pocket.
The following explains more about ‘missed call’ scams, how to spot them and what to do if you think you may have fallen victim
How do they work?
Scammers use automated systems to dial mobile numbers.
The call often lasts less than a second and comes up as a missed call.
Calls will typically be from from a number beginning 070 or 076 (which look like mobile numbers but cost considerably more to call.) or from non-geographic numbers such as those beginning 084, 087, 090, 091 or 118.
Anyone who does call the number back is charged for as long as they’re on the phone.
What can you do?
If you receive a missed call from a number you don’t recognise, think twice before calling back . Particular care should be taken when responding to calls from unknown numbers beginning with 070/076, 084/087, 090/091 or 118. Genuine callers will leave a voicemail or call back later.
To prevent making accidental or inadvertent calls (such as dialling a number when your phone is in your pocket or bag, for example), remove the suspicious number from your call log. Avoid putting direct-dial shortcuts for friends and family on the home screen of your phone and set up a screen lock. This will prevent all use of the phone until you enter the PIN, pattern or password.
You can also bar calls to international and premium rate numbers. Speak to your provider for advice on how to do this.
If you believe you have fallen victim to a missed call scam, contact your provider as soon as possible.
Telecommunications expert Ben Levitan says:
‘There are people who spend their lives looking at phone companies’ systems and ways to make money from them.
‘People share these secrets online and use them, but the criminals can be very hard to trace and catch.’
A Vodafone spokesman says:
‘Our systems have not been compromised or breached.
‘Our security monitoring systems have identified that a number of customers have returned unsolicited calls, leading to them being charged significant amounts.
‘We have taken proactive measures to ensure none of the customers affected are out of pocket and have identified and blocked the numbers creating this issue.
‘As this is an industry-wide issue, we are working with Ofcom and other operators to identify and close down this issue as soon as we can.’