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Premium rate watchdog launches 'Am I being ripped off?' text line

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PhonepayPlus, the daftly-named regulator formerly known as Icstis, has set itself the tall task of rebuilding trust in the premium rate industry. A new text service for consumers will check whether a top rate line is dodgy or not.

The watchdog already provides a similar service through its website, where you can query hefty charges on your phone bill, but now consumers can run a number against its database on the move, by texting it to 76787.

Texts are charged at the standard network rate. We tried it on the Virgin Media premium rate tech support line and got the response: "Unfortunately PhonepayPlus does not have any information about the number 09062121111", which is ace.

We had more luck with BT Yahoo! tech support's number, which gave useful info on who operates it, as well as what they're charging.

For 070 numbers - that are used most frequently for scams because people assume it is a standard mobile number - it returns "service costs vary", which is of limited use too.

PhonepayPlus reckons its database covers 95 per cent of all fixed line and shortcode numbers. Its standards chief Trays O'Reilly said: "Our aim is to build consumer trust in these services by pre-empting and preventing problems and, in so doing, protect consumers from potential harm." ®

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