Fixed & Mobile Telephone Scam

in Phones & TV
13 replies 2.4K views
A company [that OFCOM are aware of] called Telecom Billing Services are disguising premier rate lines as normal 0207 numbers. The numbers when dialled,
look as though they are charged at the normal local rate. The scam occurs because the company [TBS] will then charge a separate minimum 5 minute call at the cost of £2.95 per minute billed against the line identity …. your phone.

Mobile phones are also being targeted by text messages asking you to reply to a text for whatever reason. Your returned call will divert to these high cost 0207 numbers.

Apols if this has been mentioned before – I did run a search on Telecom Billing Services and TBS, both returned no results.
;)Do It To Them Before They Do It To You ;)
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Replies

  • They were on Watchdog some time ago.(2004)
    PF.
  • I received this info from Voice Ops today. Telecom Billing Services must still be in business and operating the same scam.
    ;)Do It To Them Before They Do It To You ;)
  • FastflysFastflys Forumite
    344 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    Yep, I agree, slight name change but they're still at it.

    OFCOM want to grow a pair, take action and deal with this!!
    ;)Do It To Them Before They Do It To You ;)
  • Fastflys wrote:
    A company [that OFCOM are aware of] called Telecom Billing Services are disguising premier rate lines as normal 0207 numbers. The numbers when dialled,
    look as though they are charged at the normal local rate. The scam occurs because the company [TBS] will then charge a separate minimum 5 minute call at the cost of £2.95 per minute billed against the line identity …. your phone.

    Mobile phones are also being targeted by text messages asking you to reply to a text for whatever reason. Your returned call will divert to these high cost 0207 numbers.

    Apols if this has been mentioned before – I did run a search on Telecom Billing Services and TBS, both returned no results.

    If it's an 0207 number then there is no possibility that it is being charged at more than the standard rate of your current home phone tariff. It would have to be an 0845/0870/0871/070xx/09xx number to be charged at a premium rate.
  • bbb_ukbbb_uk Forumite
    2.1K Posts
    If it's an 0207 number then there is no possibility that it is being charged at more than the standard rate of your current home phone tariff. It would have to be an 0845/0870/0871/070xx/09xx number to be charged at a premium rate.
    I agree.

    I've searched OfCOM's site using their search engine which wasn't much help so instead did a google search of their website instead which revealed that Oftel (before OfCOM) had investigated them (see here) but couldn't do nothing as they didn't come under their remit:-
    As Tele 123 does not provide a telecommunications service as defined by the Telecommunications Act 1984 and is not a telecommunications service provider Oftel has no power to take any action against the company in the event of a complaint.
    Tele 123 are also known as Telecom Billing Services.
  • FastflysFastflys Forumite
    344 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    Having written the original post yesterday based on information received from
    Voice Ops I assumed that this was a new telecom scam.

    From the posts above it would appear not to be the case. I’ve now checked out several forums and found numerous warnings about TBS and their use of
    0207 telephone numbers.

    CrazyChemist and bbb_uk, you are wrong.

    Below I have copied an extract from a post on another forum which confirms that TBS have used 0207 telephone numbers for premium rate services.


    "I too have been a victim of dodgy "Telecom Billing Services". The bill, TBS claim, was for a call lasting 1 minute and 16 seconds to an 0207 number, at a cost of £12.95!"


    Below is an extract from a post on another forum of an article on a BBC Watchdog site and relates to the same company:


    "Adult Chat Lines - Telecom Billing Services Ltd
    20th January 2004

    Telecom Billing Services Ltd (TBS) are just one company in the adult chat line business. A call to Taylor, Toni or Kitty will cost a minimum of £12.95 for the first five minutes, then £2.40 a minute thereafter - plus a service charge of 95p. When someone makes a call to the chat line, TBS call them back for a name and address and then send out a separate bill.

    Premium rate lines normally start with an 090 number, but this chat line is the only one in the UK that uses an 0207 prefix, like an ordinary London number.

    Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable says TBS have spotted a loophole in the law and it needs to be addressed. They're not covered by the telecoms regulator (OFCOM) and because they operate on an 0207 number, they're not covered by regulations governing premium rate lines (ICSTIS)."
    ;)Do It To Them Before They Do It To You ;)
  • bbb_ukbbb_uk Forumite
    2.1K Posts
    Fastflys,

    Thanks for that. I didn't think that was possible.

    Have you got the link to the watchdog site where it mentions this (I couldn't find it myself) as I plan on replying to OfCOM's consultation on non-geographical numbers and they mention tightening up rules and forcing all adult stuff on to 09x numbers and I can use this as a perfect example that premium rate (adult or not) should be on specialist number (09x).

    Update:

    Having done a google search I found more information. They charge that much because they bill you via invoice for the time spent calling them - a separate charge from the phone bill for the call to their 0207 number.

    It appears to work like this:-
    • You call a service operated by them (appears to be adult) on the number supplied 0207 or whatever else they choose.
    • You are charged normal rates for this 0207 (ie geographical) or for non-geographical rates if they use 08x but not premium rates.
    • TBS then call you back after the call (having obtained your number via CLI - they don't apparently accept calls from numbers if they are withheld). They then try and obtain your details directly from you. If you don't provide them they must use other means to get your details (probably illegal).
    • They then invoice you for the call you made depending on length of call (but is subject to a minimum of 5mins which appears to be the £12 mentioned above).
    Technically then they are not charging premium rates to a geographical. They are doing it indirectly and therefore are outside the remit of OfCOM which is why OfCOM are powerless. One could argue it's another loop hole.
  • FastflysFastflys Forumite
    344 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    OK - You have a point.

    Let's not get bogged down on the technicalities.

    I just wanted to warn other members/guests of what I thought was a new telecom scam.

    To be fair I didn’t know that this scam related to an Adult Chat Line. The info I received said, "premium rate numbers" of which there are many types.

    However, if you were to see one of these advertised quoting an 0207 contact number, you would assume that you will be charged at normal geographical rates. You only realise that this is not the case after the event.

    A scam is a scam whatever the delivery method. The only reason TBS use an 0207 contact number is to deceive and disguise the true cost.
    ;)Do It To Them Before They Do It To You ;)
  • MarkyMarkDMarkyMarkD Forumite
    9.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    BUT there is a substantial difference to so called call rate scams. The difference is that the amount is NOT charged through your bill, and you can refuse to pay it without it impacting on your telephone service.

    As reported above, they bill you directly for this "service". They would then have to pursue that debt through the courts or whatever if you refused to pay. If they didn't inform you of the charge for the "service" before providing it, they have no leg to stand on and their claim would fail in court if you defended it appropriately.
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