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Oftel gets tough with phone scams

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Oftel is to clamp down on people running phone-related scams after seeing a rise in complaints concerning "find me anywhere numbers".

Today's missive from the winged watchdog focuses on the misuse of personal numbers beginning with the prefix 070.

While many people use these numbers legitimately (they enable people to have one number which can be diverted to other numbers, hence finding them anywhere) others are abusing the situation.

According to Oftel, the most common scam is to get people to call a personal number where the tariff has been set at a higher rate.

As people call the number they run-up large bills with much of the cash going to the owner of the number.

In one such 070 scam, an ISP claimed to offer an adult-orientated material. Although the service was advertised as being "free" it was being charged at 38p per minute. The scam also changed their default dial-up settings so that accessing the Net was costing them more than £1 for three minutes online.

According to Oftel, some people got hit with bills up to £13,000. Ouch.

In a bid to stamp out such scams, Oftel has come up with a clever plan to close the loophole. It seems owners of 070 will be unable to charge any kind of premium for using their number.

Simple.

In fact, so simple, you have to wonder why Oftel didn't think of it before. ®

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