Premium rate phone numbers for free servicesWebsites charge high prices for government numbers

01 October 2010

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Directory websites are charging customers up to £1.50 a call to get phone numbers that are freely available on official government sites.

Details of these sites have been passed on to search engines by PhonepayPlus, the premium rate phone regulator. Both Google and Bing have indicated that as a result of information received, some sites do breach their advertising rules and will no longer be able to submit sponsored links.

Consumers who call the sites to find out phone numbers for government offices, for instance, are being charged 10 pence plus per minute, or a fixed fee of around £1.50, when calling from a landline.

09 premium rates

When Which? carried out an internet search for 'child benefits', the top result in the sponsored link area was This company operates on a premium rate 09 number and charges £1.50 a call to provide a number that is freely available via the official HM Revenue and Customs site.

For more on HM Revenue and Customs, see the Which? tax advice webpages.

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