Make This Call and Pay a Premium
Date Added: Dec. 9, 2004
Modern technology lets us keep in touch with each other easily. At the same time, however, it can open the door to new crime. While scammers continue to find new and innovative ways to separate the fool from his money, this warning is exaggerated and unsubstantiated.
Subject: BT Scam - IMPORTANT NOTICE
Please be aware that this applies to work and home.
Please be aware of the following telephone scam relating to home and/or work phones (including mobiles). The scenario is:- Your phone rings and you receive a recorded message;
"Congratulations. We are calling to advise you that you have won an all expenses paid trip to an exotic destination. Please press 9 now to hear further details."
If you press 9, you'll be connected to a premium line that bills in the region of £20 per minute. If you press 9 and connect, even if you disconnect immediately, the other end will stay connected for a minimum of 5 minutes - at a cost to you of £100 - the message lasts for 11 minutes.
The final part of the call asks you to key in your postcode and house number (which has other serious considerations) and then, after a wait of a further two minutes, responds with the message;
"Sorry, you are not one of the lucky winners." and disconnects, adding a further £260 to your bill! Unfortunately the calls are originating from outside the U.K. and as such BT and other providers are relatively powerless to act.
The only safe solution is to hang up before the message prompts you to press 9.
BT confirm that they are aware of this and are investigating, please don't get caught out.
As it circulates, forwarders add little tidbits making it sound more important and more official, but not making it any more accurate:
If it sounds too good to be true, it is!
The following warning about a telephone scam has been forwarded to us by North Somerset Council and Somerset County Council.
Unfortunately the calls are originating from outside the U.K. and as such BT and other providers are relatively powerless to act. We are advised that the only safe solution is to hang up before the message prompts you to press 9.
Bernie, my sister, who works for the Home Office has just emailed me with this warning. They got it distributed with "Highest Priority Rating" I think it should be passed around. Here is a copy of the message.
Subject: FW: Xmas Telephone scam WARNING !!!!
PLEASE BE CAREFUL FOLKS, OTHERWISE XMAS WILL BE RUINED BY A £500 PHONEBILL YOU CANNOT DO A DAMN THING ABOUT !!!
This is apparently the latest "phone scam" doing the rounds. BT are currently investigating but do not have enough evidence to pinpoint exactly how this is perpetrated.
Message from Stockton Council's Chief Auditor - take heed
Since this warning circulated for months without any attribution, any version of it that claims to come from an authority or office that seems remotely related to the issue can safely be dismissed as a case of False Attribution Syndrome, in which someone became mistakenly associated with the note, simply by forwarding it.
In essence, this warning varies little from an earlier hoax about dialing "9-0-#" on your phone. In late 2003, that warning morphed into another one that alleged responding to text messages that asked you to dial "9-0-#" or some other key combination would give scammers access to the very heart of your mobile phone. While the former had some roots in reality, the latter was total fiction - a mistaken leap of logic.
The present warning ventures farther from reality. The Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standard Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS), the industry-funded regulatory body for all premium rate charged telecommunications services in the UK posted a statement explaining that such a scam would not be possible:
"A £20.00 per minute premium rate tariff does not exist – the highest premium rate tariff available is £1.50 per minute. Despite the hundreds of enquiries received by ICSTIS about this ‘scam’ (and most have heard about it second or third-hand), not one person who claims that it has actually happened to them has been able to produce a phone bill to support their story.
"ICSTIS urges any individual or organisation that receives an e-mail about this scam to delete it immediately. Please do not forward it on to others."
However, ICSTIS recognizes that there is a great deal of abuse among premium rate service providers. In December 2004, the agency announced that it would be getting "greater powers to help it tackle those in the industry who deliberately set out to rip off consumers." To date, ICSTIS has received thousands of complaints from consumers about unexpected charges for premium rate numbers on their bill. However, the most common culprits are scams by which a consumer's dial-up network settings are changed (often without the owner's knowledge) to a premium rate number, and have nothing to do with mobile phones, pressing "9" or £20.00 per minute charges.
Nonetheless, debate around this warning often becomes heated in the e-mail circles and message boards on which it is unleashed. Many relate stories of a "friend of a friend" being victimized by a similar scam, or tell of instances in which they've narrowly avoided becoming a victim themselves. If you feel you or someone you know may have been the victim of premium rate abuse, visit the ICSTIC Web site (referenced below) to file a complaint. But please don't forward warnings like the one above that do more to unnecessarily alarm than to warn and protect. Break this chain.