Mobile Phone Scams
These days almost everyone carries a mobile phone, and it's become a vital part of our communication arsenal to keep us in touch when we're on the move. We tend to think of it as being as safe as our landline. But it's not. The scammers have figured out ways to take advantage of mobile technology.
How It WorksThere are two variations - the text message and the missed call. You receive a text congratulating you on winning a cash prize (this is known as m-spam). All you have to do to collect it is dial a number that begins with 0906. What they don't tell you is that this is a premium rate number, that the call will last several minutes, and that you won't ever receive your prize. It's a massive scam - in 2002 more than two billion of these messages were sent out.With a missed call scam, your mobile rings once, then disconnects, leaving you with a missed call. If you ring back, you're redirected to a premium rate line for a prize. These calls can cost up to £15 and the promised prize never materialises. According to some sources, the number making the original missed call often has the prefix 0709.Finally, there's reverse texting, under which you end up paying to receive texts, such as ringtones and wallpapers, typically from 25p to £1.50 per message.
How To Avoid The Scam
- If you get a text message from someone you don't know, don't reply.
- If you receive a text offering you a prize, delete it without response.
- Don't reply to any number with a 090 prefix - it's a premium-rate line.
- If you respond to a missed call, hang up at the very first indication your call is being redirected ("I'll put you through" or something similar).
- Don't subscribe to anything that you suspect might be reverse texting. Investigate before you do anything.
What To Do If You're A Victim
- Inform the police. In truth, there's probably little they can do, but you will have a crime reference number.
- Tell your mobile carrier. Again, they won't be able to refund your money, but they can investigate and inform others.
- Inform the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Telephone Information Services , which regulates premium numbers.
- With reverse texting, if you text the word STOP to the subscription number, they are legally supposed to halt immediately, If they don't, contact Phonepayplus.
There are companies that legitimately use premium numbers. However, they usually don't try to hide that fact. The scammers make their living by tricking the unwary. Use your common sense and you won't be a victim.