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An Internet sex company has been fined £10,000 after more than 370 punters complained that it had installed software on their PCs that connected them to a premium-rate phone line.

Punters said the dialler software appeared to download icons and set a premium rate number as the dial-up default without their knowledge or consent. This meant that many ran up huge phone bills when they went online - made worse because the service failed to disconnect once it had reached the maximum £20 call limit set by premium rate regulator ICSTIS.

San Marino-based PB Communications SR denied that the dialler software could install itself and become the default connection on the users' PCs without their consent. It also disputed that calls could be made without the say so of users, explaining that calls could only be made if punters agreed to a disclaimer, set a PIN code and accepted the cost of the calls.

However, the company did admit that it had a problem with the call cut-off and said it would refund those punters whose calls exceeded the £20 limit.

PB Communications was fined £10,000 and access to its service was barred for six months.

Elsewhere, Milton Keynes-based Lebcomm was fined £6,000 for using automated calling equipment to make spam phone calls.While BT was fined a total of £3,000 and issued with a formal reprimand for two misleading ads plugging its directory enquiries service.

Yesterday, ICSTIS dished out fines totalling £450,000 after getting tough on text spammers and scammers. ®

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