- Mobile phone users are being lured into placing calls for which they will be charged £50 a minute: False.
- Similar schemes that rack up tolls at much lower rates are afoot: True.
There is a new kind of mobile phone scam. A missed call will show on your mobile phone. The number is 0709 020 3840! The last four numbers may vary, but the first four numbers will remain the same! If you call this number back, you will be charged £50.00 per minute. People have complained about their phone bills, once they have realised the cost of the call, but apparently this is completely legal. So beware, do not call back numbers beginning with 0709.
Origins: We encountered this caution against returning calls to numbers in the 0709 prefix in February 2004. Akin to its widespread and long-lived American counterpart, the 809 area code warning, this
Some of the e-mailed alerts begin in this fashion:
The apparent 'deception' takes place when people receive a recorded message informing them that they have won an all-expenses paid holiday and are asked to
A £20.00 per minute premium rate tariff does not exist - the highest premium rate tariff available is £1.50 per minute. Despite the hundreds of enquiries received by ICSTIS about this 'scam' (and most have heard about it second or third-hand), not one person who claims that it has actually happened to them has been able to produce a phone bill to support their story.
ICSTIS urges any individual or organisation that receives an
However, while there are no £50-a-minute scams out there to worry about, frauds that operate along the same line (but at far lower rates) do exist and do take in the unwary. The problem of mobile phone users receiving "missed call" notifications soliciting them to dial numbers for which they will be charged at rates higher than they might otherwise expect is on the rise. Those so duped get drawn into returning calls that promise they've won prizes and thence into staying on the line in pursuit of same while the meter runs.
Similar scams have been running in Japan at least since 2002. Known as "wangiri," this form of illegal
The term "wangiri" derives from combining the English word "one," pronounced "wan," and the Japanese word "kiru," meaning "to cut off" and refers to the practice of ringing once then hanging up. Wangiri operators have repeatedly paralyzed broad areas of Japan's telephone networks, in 2002 prompting the government of that country to enact laws against the practice. Those laws carry penalties of up to one year in prison or fines as high as
In February 2004 the ICSTIS had two firms which were using the scheme shut down. ICSTIS external affairs manager Richard Sullivan said the practice was "clearly in breach" of its code. His advice to mobile users: "If you get an unsolicited number on your phone our recommendation is not to call it. Most of the premium rate services are absolutely fine but there are a very small proportion of people damaging the industry."
Barbara "prefixed for your convenience" Mikkelson
Last updated: 7 January 2008
BBC News. "Clampdown on 'Missed Call" Scam." 18 February 2004. Birmingham Evening Mail. "Warning Over Phone Scam." 18 February 2004 (News, p. 13). Channel 4 News. "Mobile Scam." 18 February 2004. Japan Economic Newswire. "'Wangiri Fraud on Rise as Mobile Phone Use Increases." 29 July 2002. Japan Economic Newswire. "Gov't to Make Wangiri Calls Punishable by up to 1 Year in Jail." 16 October 2002. The Japan Times. "NTT Units Plot 'Wangiri' Crackdown." 2 August 2002.