The internet is likely to be your first point of call when wanting to answer a query. And it’s no wonder, when most questions can be answered at the click of a button.
But how do you know the information in front of you is correct? Fraudsters sometimes use the internet as a way to snare their victims, and one way they do this is to display an advert for a free service and charge customers a premium.
To make sure you don’t fall for a scam like this, we’re going to take you through what to look out for.
The scam aims to dupe people searching online for telephone numbers of Government advice services into paying a premium for the call.
Fraudsters place an online advert for the phone number of an advice line and charge anyone that uses this number a premium. In some cases, this charge can be as much as £20 or £30 per call.
Although you’ll be put through to the right advice service, you will pay a hefty unnecessary charge for the connection. The correct phone number is usually free to use or low cost.
Searches for car tax discs, completing your tax return and renewing your driving licence are all prone to these premium rate number scams.
This isn’t the only scam that sees fraudsters copy information for their own benefit. Copycat websites are often set up by fraudsters. These charge a fee for Government services (for example, an EHIC application) that are either free or much cheaper through official routes.
You can read more about copycat websites and how to avoid them in our blog.
How to avoid this scam
To make sure you don’t end up paying to call a free service, we’re going to take you through how to avoid scam number ads.
• Government advice lines never use numbers beginning with 084, 087, 090, 091 or 098. Be suspicious of any advice lines that advertise number starting with these.
• Go directly to the official Government website to find information for Government telephone advice lines. Check any numbers advertised against the information on this site.
• It’s not always easy to spot whether you’ve been scammed. Check your phone bill to see how much you’ve paid for a call.
• If you think you’ve already fallen for this scam, report it to Action Fraud. You can do this online by using their reporting tool.
To complain about a premium-rate telephone scam, you can contact PhonepayPlus. The official organisation set up to regulate these services in the UK. You can get in touch on 0300 30 300 20 or visit their website.