Stop internet fraudstersOfcom calls for dial-up scams crackdown

22 November 2005

The telecoms regulator has warned that tougher measures are needed to stop the internet dial-up scams that can add hundreds of pounds to victims' phone bills.

In the scams, a 'Trojan dialler' hidden in an apparently normal site gets downloaded with, say, music or a game. It then secretly diverts your dial-up modem from your ISP to a premium-rate number or an expensive overseas number. You're then charged for any increase in the bill. Some victims have been stung for GBP 1,000.

Now Ofcom says existing regulations should be extended so that the premium-rate watchdog, Icstis, can take action against all companies behind rogue diallers, as some are operating on non-premium-rate numbers.

Currently, only companies using premium-rate 09 numbers can be fined and barred by Icstis. Last year, rules were brought in to bar rogue diallers from using 09 numbers - but Ofcom says some 'migrated' to other numbers such as 087 or 070. It wants the system changed so that all numbers are covered by the same rules.

An Ofcom spokesman said: 'Ofcom is today proposing to extend this regulation so that Icstis is able to take action against any rogue dialler, irrespective of the telephone number used or the call charges involved.'

Icstis can impose a maximum fine of GBP 100,000 on companies behind premium-rate scams and ban them from operating. It said that more than 46,000 people complained they were affected by dial-up scams last year.

Stay scam aware with our guide to spotting a scam, and what to do if you fall foul of one.