New mobile call scam threatens users

Beware! Scammers have found a new way to dupe consumers, this time using mobile calls.

Beware! Scammers have found a new way to dupe consumers, this time using mobile calls.

A scam operating in the United Kingdom combines automatic diallers with premium rate numbers to trick mobile phone users into spending money on the highly-charged phone numbers.

So far there have been no reports of the scam operating in Australia, although considering the continued prevalence of Internet dumping and the recent emergence of SMS scams, consumers are advised to be wary of the scam kicking off here.

The companies accused of perpetrating the scam use computers to dial mobile numbers and then hang up after the first ring. The mobile user finds a missed call on the mobile, and when they return it they receive a recorded message congratulating them on winning a prize and urging them to dial a premium rate number for further details.

The prize rarely materialises, but the average phone call lasts 10 minutes and costs 15 pounds, according to UK newspaper The Guardian.

In Australia premium-rate numbers can be charged at up to AU$5.50 per minute. A spokesperson for the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) told ZDNet Australia   if the recorded message promised a prize that was not available the matter would be referred to police.

"That's a falsehood and an attempt to gain benefit from deception," she said, adding that any action would depend on the exact content of the message.

Premium rate numbers also have to be clear that the call is being charged above the standard rate. If it fails to do so, the Telephone Information Services Standards Council (TISSC) could take action.

Neither the TIO or TISSC had received complaints of a similar scam operating in Australia.

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