Ofcom wants to tighten up regulations on Internet diallers because companies are already finding a way round the rules.
Rogue diallers switch dial-up Internet connections from low-cost or
freephone numbers to more expensive numbers. The software is usually
installed on the computer without the customer's knowledge by them
opening a spam email or visiting a Web site where the software is
The communications regulator said there is "growing evidence of
consumer harm" arising from rogue diallers — victims can see their
bills go up by as much as £1,420, although the average hit is around
Last year premium rate regulator ICSTIS ordered that no network
should provide premium rate numbers for diallers unless the company
requesting the number has a permission certificate from ICSTIS. But
this only applied to numbers starting '09' and now rogues are migrating
to '08' numbers to avoid this.
Ofcom now wants to extend the rules so that ICSTIS can take action
against any rogue dialler irrespective of the telephone number used or
the call charges involved.
An Ofcom spokesman told ZDNet UK's sister site, silicon.com: "This
means that a dialler has to get permission to operate from ICSTIS, and
ICSTIS has power to fine companies that are found to be rogue. If
companies have to get prior consent that's a strong deterrent."