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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Making money out of premium numbers

Today's Western Mail highlights a rather cheeky scam in which some online organisations have been making a fortune by directing callers to dial expensive 08 numbers when cheap or free alternatives are available.

The paper says that these firms have targeted the DVLA, Companies House, Welsh Water, the Countryside Council for Wales, First Great Western, National Debtline, housing benefit offices, and disability services.

They make their cash by charging callers through the nose to call these public bodies through premium-rate telephone numbers they themselves have set up. When the numbers are dialled they redirect to the public body and charge users a premium for doing it. One was charging £1.53 a minute to call the DVLA – meaning a 15-minute call would cost £22.95. Others don’t make their prices clear.

What is not clear is how they get away with this. Presumably, they pay to get their sites higher up google searches and pass themselves off as the real thing. It sounds like there needs to be much tighter enforcement of trade mark laws and of the way these things are promoted and marketed.

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