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False Scam Story 25 February 2004

The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading and Manx Telecom are aware of warnings circulating on the Island about a new scam on mobile 'phone users.

The claim is that a missed call will show on your mobile phone. The number is 0709 020 3840 (the last four numbers may vary) but the first four numbers will remain the same. If you call this number back, you will be charged 50.00 per minute.

The warnings are being circulated by e-mail and have even been featured on Channel 4 News.

Some of the e-mailed warnings begin in this fashion:

All this is TRUE one of my friends looks after the BT Vodafone contract and has checked this out with Vodafone.!! Its not a HOAX beware and pass it on.

The truth is that these warnings are deceptions in themselves. A 50.00 per minute rate tariff does not exist - the highest premium rate tariff available is 1.50 per minute. The Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS) which is the regulatory body for all premium rate charged telecommunications services, advises that "Despite the hundreds of enquiries received by ICSTIS about this "scam" (and most have heard about it second or third-hand), not one person 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 and asks that no-one forward it to others.

However, while there are no 50-a-minute scams to worry about, frauds that operate along the same line (but at a far lower rate) do exist. The problem of mobile 'phone users receiving "missed call" notifications soliciting mobile 'phone users to dial numbers for which they will be charged at rates higher than they might otherwise expect is on the rise. Users get drawn into returning calls that promise they've won prizes and hence staying on the line in pursuit of more information while the meter runs at up to 1.50 per minute. If you are suspicious about any "missed call" do not ring back - if it is important the caller will call you back.

You can protect yourself against unsolicited marketing and telesales calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Service tel. 020 7291 3320, www.fpsonline.org.uk However it may not always be possible to prevent scam calls - fraudsters will always be looking for a way around the rules.

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