076 Phone Number Scam

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The Guardian’s Technology blog has a warning about a new but far from sophisticated phone scam, which uses a special set of numbers reserved for radiopagers.

You could have been targeted by the scam if you’ve received a missed phone call from a number beginning 076 – whilst this might look like a mobilfe phone call from a friend, it’s a scam to get you to call it back, and will cost you a premium rate should you try to do so.

The structure of the scam is simple enough: the scammers buy up a range of numbers through a network operator, then use automated systems to make “ghost calls” to a huge range of numbers, never completing the call. You get a “call missed” message, call it back, and the network operator charges you the cost of the call – which, because it’s ostensibly to a radiopager, costs very much more than a landline or even mobile call. Under the contract, which it thinks is legitimate (after all, perhaps someone set up a company which needed to call lots of radiopagers in a hurry), the network operator then passes a large cut of the proceeds on to the scammers – who soon after disappear with the loot. Then they pop up again a few weeks or months later running a similar scam.

It’s a variation on similar scams that have taken place before – not particularly sophisticated, but if the scammers can send enough ghost calls to enough people in a reasonably short period of time, they will get some people to try and call them back and will be able to make a quick buck before disappearing and then moving onto the next range of numbers or new scam.

The answer is of course to not ring back numbers you don’t recognise, unless you’re waiting for a important call from an unknown number. If you do get a missed call from an unknown number, take a look at the WhoCallsMe website to see if they can identify the owner of the number – you might find that it’s a┬álegitimate company trying to get in touch, or it could potentially point you to the fact that it’s a scammer, and will give you chance to save your phone bill.

Have you been targeted by this scam? Did you fall for it? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Johan Larsson

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