Fury over phone scam

SEVEN phone calls cost mother-of-two Tina Cawdron £187 – and she never even got to speak to a person.A mobile phone scam saw her clocking up the cash, but she was only alerted after BT phoned to ask why she was spending so much money on premium rate lines.

SEVEN phone calls cost mother-of-two Tina Cawdron £187 - and she never even got to speak to a person.

A mobile phone scam saw her clocking up the cash, but she was only alerted after BT phoned to ask why she was spending so much money on premium rate lines.

Mrs Cawdron may now have to use money she was saving to spend on holiday at Disneyland with her husband David, and their children, Sarah, 15, and Douglas, ten, to pay the bill.

It is thought thousands of people on different networks may have been caught by the scam which informs by text that a ringtone and logo service has been ordered costing £4 a week and gives a number to phone if customers want to unsubscribe.

Mrs Cawdron, 42, of Grange Road, Felixstowe said she had never even ordered the service.

She said: "I called it several times and it was eating up my credit.

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"David said use the landline, but the number still either said 'heavy traffic' or kept you hanging on in a queue. I never got to speak to a person at all.

"It was very frustrating - all I wanted to do was unsubscribe to this service. I hadn't ordered it - I wouldn't know how to do that. I only have the phone for emergencies.

"I was so worried they would start taking £4 a week before I could stop them."

Mrs Cawdron made 11 phone calls - seven on their BT landline.

Mr Cawdron, 43, a Felixstowe town councillor, said BT rang two days later to ask why the family had run up a £187 bill on premium rate numbers over the weekend.

He said: "I was staggered and could not believe it. I am absolutely fuming because the text Tina received never said the unsubscribe number was a premium rate call. That is so unfair - and now we have a huge bill we will struggle to pay.

"I have to thank BT because without their call, we would have kept on trying the number."

He said BT had used new software to monitor unusual changes in customers' phone accounts.

Mrs Cawdron added: "I just feel so sick and I am scared to use my mobile now."

A spokeswoman for T-Mobile, the Cawdrons' network provider, said the company became aware of the scam last weekend. Along with other networks, it worked with legitimate firms to send text messages offering services, but the text was not part of that arrangement.

She said: "We understand it is affecting other networks as well. We are all working with the industry's governing body to deal with this, protect our customers and avoid this happening."

n. Have you been caught out by the scam? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

panel:

AROUND 40,000 premium rate services are in operation at any one time, generating an estimated £1 billion a year.

The services offer information and entertainment via phone, fax, computer, mobile or interactive digital TV - ranging from sports, voting and sex lines, to competition, directory enquiry, chat and business information services.

Costs vary from ten pence per call to £1.50 per minute and is shared between the telephone company carrying the service and the organisation providing the content.

ICSTIS - the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services - said all UK-based premium rate services must normally be advertised on '090' dialling codes and directory enquiry services on 118xxx codes.

Certain premium rate mobile services may also use short access codes - typically four or five digit numbers and be shown on phone bills as 'premium rate call' or 'high premium rate service'.

WEBLINK: www.icstis.org.uk

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