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Disturbing article in The Times (10/4/04) about a couple who face a bill of £744 on their Freeserve Hometime Internet account which was run up in just six weeks by calls to a premium rate numbers linked to web sites owned by a company in West Africa.
Freeserve insist that the bill is a matter for BT, whilst BT refuse to waive the charges (even though they admit to receiving part of the premium rate charges).
A spokesman for Ictis explained that the dialler’s software embeds itself in a user’s computer and changes the existing dialling settings. Every time the user logs on to the Internet, the dialler does not connect to the normal ISP number but diverts to a premium rated number. This happens without people’s knowledge or consent. Apparently there was an item on the BBC ‘Watchdog’ programme about this scam on Tuesday evening.
My queries are:
Is there any way that you can prevent becoming a victim of ‘Rogue Internet Dialling?’ and secondly is there any way that you can check your computer system to ensure that you haven’t already fallen prey to the scam?
I have broadband and have never had my pc connected to a dial up phone line. Can I still be trapped by this scam? and what if I want to send/recieve faxes on my pc - will enabling dialling to use this medium mean that I can become a victim of this scam? thx
Beep. This is the way I understand it. Technically, no. Diallers cannot dial out over broadband. But, if like me, you still have an analogue modem fitted and connected to the phone line, diallers can pick it up. The way round this is to unplug the modem from the phone line when you are on the internet. My modem is only used for sending faxes and that is generally done when not connected to the internet. Bit of a drag to keep plugging and unplugging but better than a high phone bill!
Yes it was on BBC Watchdog.
One lady had a £1200 bill, 15 pages of it contained one number that was being repeately dailed, this was a internet preiume number, what it was doing was dailing out over the internet, connect for just 59 seconds, at a charge of £1.50, then it disconected itself and then redailed, this had been repeated hour after hour.
Mind you I'm not suprised that BT don't want to to anything about it, as the recieve a partcentage of the profits generated by this con, their comment is that the number being dailed is outside this country, so there is little they can do about it, they can only shut down lines that are in this country!
If that is so, who's collecing the money for these people? BT, you pay them, and then they take their money and pass the rest onto who ever ownes the Number, whatever country they live in.
And BT, can/should be able to tell the difference from someone trying to pull a fast one, for a start in this ladies case, every call lasted exactly 59 seconds everytime, she could prove that it had been dailed when no-one was about, all could prove that they were at work!
So why not waive the charges, after all, if they don't collect the money and pass it on, then whoever in whatever country will soon get fed up, and forget about the con (hopefully)
BUT, in the mean time, one way to avoid this distrassing con, is to contact BT and have your phone blocked from dailing out to any preiume numbers, I think that they do now charge for this but it will only be a small fee, such as £3 a month, a worth while investment. And BT used to have a system that if your bill, reached a agreed set limit, that they would give you a call and let you know, won't stop it from happening, but might limit the damage/cost.
I also regularly check, my phone bill over the net, just to keep an eye to where and who is being dailed to. This started when I thought that I had been hit by one, furtunaly had I hadn't. But it was nice to know that I could check if necessary.
With boardband you have a direct conenetion to the ISP, which is a physical connection, so it can't be hi-jacked to another number it won't work, look how long you've got to wait before you can change your provider, they've got to disconnect you, before any one can reconnect you, with 56k dail-up you can have many different provders has you wish at any one time (as long as you pay them of course)
but lately they seem to be attracting a lot of attention. If you're on a dial-up connection it's vital to get as much protection as you can - as detailed by johnnyrocker.
A large percentage of dialer problems are related to visiting adult or warez sites, so steer clear of them too.
I saw the end of the watchdog program mentioned above. From what I could gather the ICSTIS rep said that if they were contacted with regard to a complaint like this then a complaint number would be issued and this should be relayed to BT , or whoever, and that part of the bill involved should be suspended pending the outcome of the complaint.
Just to add to the fe's note there are also a lot of dialers appearing on music download sites too. These sites offer free mp3 downloads but the catch is you have to install the download software which is in fact a dialer (spanish) and is very difficult to remove if you get it. I am on broadband and downloaded it deliberately to see the effect ( the joy of a sacrificial pc).
Call Barring lets you stop calls being made to mobile, international, premium rate and national numbers.
£1:75 a month with BT. You control which ones you want barring, with a pass number to by-pass.
Try this click here it runs in the system tray and will tell you if your dialup number changes. German software but installs in English.
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