We all know how frustrating it can be to receive an unsolicited call from a business number. Whether you pick up the phone, ring it back later or simply ignore it, that’s usually the end of it, but a new mobile phone scam means there could be more to the story.
This scam sees customers lose out on hundreds of pounds for calls to 0845 or 0843 numbers that they insist they never made. To make you aware of the details of this scam and how you can do your best to avoid it, we’re going to take you through the basics.
In cases seen by Money Mail, the scam starts with a customer receiving a call from an unfamiliar number that starts with 0845 or 0843. The customer doesn’t even get the chance to answer, as the call only lasts a few seconds and shows up on their mobile as a missed call.
When customers check their mobile phone bill weeks later, the bill displays that they called the number back and now owe a large sum of money. But victims say they didn’t call the number and some don’t remember even seeing it as a missed call in the first place. In most cases, the bill shows that the call lasted between three to 12 hours.
One mobile user, who usually runs up a £9 monthly mobile bill, received a £90 phone bill after getting a call from a number beginning with 08. Another was shocked to learn that she owed £375 for a call to an 0845 number, after her bill showed that she had stayed on the line for 12 hours – when she hadn’t called it at all.
Phone networks don’t know how the scam works, but one theory is that fraudsters are hiring 0845 and 0843 numbers and setting high fees for incoming calls.
A lot of the victims involved in this scam were Vodafone customers but the mobile phone provider says that it’s an industry-wide problem. They are now refunding all customers affected and blocking suspicious numbers. Some EE customers have also complained of high charges and Ofcom has started to investigate.
Although phone networks don’t yet know how this scam works, there are some cautionary steps that you can take. Take note of the following tips.
• Avoid answering any phone calls from numbers that you don’t recognise, especially if it begins with 0845 or 0843. You can use this as evidence if you do receive a large phone bill.
• Use the ‘block this caller’ function if it is available on your phone, after any calls from unwanted business rate numbers.
• If you do answer a call that you think might be a scam, check your mobile phone bill as soon as possible and contact your provider if you don’t recognise a large payment on there. Vodafone say that customers affected should dial 191.
Remember, here at thinkmoney we will only ever call you from an 0161 number so you don’t have to worry about missing our calls.