Charity in phone line shock

A CASH-strapped charity today hit-out at BT for disconnecting its telephone line after an Internet scam ran up a bill for hundreds of pounds.ADHD in Suffolk refused to pay the bill, which was 20 times the cost of its average bills, and is now struggling to help those affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the county.

A CASH-strapped charity today hit-out at BT for disconnecting its telephone line after an Internet scam ran up a bill for hundreds of pounds.

ADHD in Suffolk refused to pay the bill, which was 20 times the cost of its average bills, and is now struggling to help those affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the county.

Its other help lines are now regularly engaged and the charity is clocking up bigger than average bills on its own telephone service, ADHD Telecom, because it is repeatedly forced to return missed calls.

The charity used the line to connect to the Internet for office purposes and to send and receive faxes.


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But a scam had latched on to the software and everytime the group's computer connected to the Internet it automatically dialled premium rate phone lines.

Linda Sheppard, ADHD in Suffolk's executive director said: "When the bill came it was £389, it's usually less than £20.

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"I thought 'oh my God, something's wrong here' so I contacted them."

BT told Mrs Sheppard that they would conduct an investigation.

But she said: "Then we received a red bill out of the blue with no explanation. "They wrote that the bill was right and we had to pay it.

"They just said they are the rogue diallers that can plant themselves on your computer and it's your responsibility to protect yourself."

BT says it has so far blocked 1,000 numbers allegedly associated with rogue internet diallers in an effort to minimise the number of victims of the problem.

Gavin Patterson, group managing director of consumer and ventures for BT, said: "We have taken the decision to block numbers suspected of being associated with diallers as soon as we are alerted to a problem.

"We have offered free premium rate barring to all customers, and a removable bar for premium rate and international calls for £1.75 a month.

"We have made it clear that we are not the ones profiteering from people's misfortune. In fact, we will continue to forego our share of the call revenue generated by these disputed calls."

ADHD in Suffolk has since blocked premium rate lines from its computers but Mrs Sheppard said she remains adamant they will not pay BT for the calls.

She said: "That money will pay for two 12-week football coaching courses for up to 20 children. We would be using the money we have raised to do those football coaching courses.

"I'm not prepared to do that, this is a matter of principle."

N Have you been stung by an Internet scam? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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