Premium rate regulator warns ‘no tolerance for 076 scams’
1 March 2010
PhonepayPlus today warned that it will take swift action against the misuse of 076 numbers, especially when they are used to mislead consumers as part of a “missed call” scam.
The 076 number range, reserved for radiopaging services, are not allowed to be used to provide a controlled premium rate service and generate revenue. Unfortunately, there is evidence that 076 numbers are being used for the same kind of “missed call” scams that have previously operated on the 070 number range. PhonepayPlus successfully tackled 070 scams through prompt and effective enforcement action, reducing the number of complaints by 69% in the last quarter.
The regulator will take a similarly robust approach to any scams operating on 076 numbers and will fulfil its duty to regulate any service that operates, or appears to operate, as a controlled premium rate service, regardless of whether the numbers involved are designated as premium rate in the Ofcom Numbering Plan.
PhonepayPlus has already opened investigations into 076-related complaints. As well as investigating the providers responsible for these services, PhonepayPlus is also looking into the role played by the network operators who leased the 076 numbers to the providers. Where a Tribunal finds either, or both, parties to be in breach of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice it is likely to impose stiff sanctions accordingly.
Having successfully clamped down on abuse of 070 numbers involving controlled premium rate activity, PhonepayPlus will draw on this experience when examining activity connected with 076 numbers. It also warned that it will pass on information to the police if fraud, or conspiracy to defraud consumers, is suspected.
Paul Whiteing, Chief Executive of PhonepayPlus, spelled out the action that the regulator will take against any abuse of the 076 number range:
“We need to ensure consumer confidence in this industry is not undermined by a minority of rogue providers.
“That is why we will consider using our Emergency Procedure to shut down any service that is operating a “missed call” scam, pending a full investigation. We will have no tolerance for 076 scams that harm both consumers and damage the industry.
“Where there is any cause for concern, we will take decisive action to protect consumers and work with the industry and all agencies, including Ofcom and the police, to stamp out any and all services that defraud the public.”
Notes to editors
- The National Telephone Numbering Plan, overseen by Ofcom, explains how different number ranges are to be used by communications providers.
- Reductions in 070 complaints are based on a comparison of the period for January 2010 – November 2009 with August 2009 – October 2009.
- PhonepayPlus regulates those services which are ‘controlled premium rate services’, as defined and set by Ofcom in accordance with the Communications Act 2003. The current definition is located on Ofcom’s website at pages 75 and 76 of its ‘Extending Premium Rate Services Regulation to 087 numbers’ publication in the following link:
- For further information, contact PhonepayPlus’ communications office on 0207 940 7440 or email firstname.lastname@example.org