In some ways this scam is quite clever in how it gets the unsuspecting victim to fall for it by appealing to their sense of decency.
Sophisticated scammers use autodiallers to ring both landline, and more often, cell phones.
However, they are timed to ensure that they only ring once, or register a missed call without ringing at all.
Because usual phone etiquette in most countries dictates that when you miss someone’s call you return it and that is what the scammer relies on.
As soon as you call the number – it started with 0898 numbers in the UK – you will be connected to a premium rate service.
As ever, scammers try to stay one step ahead of the game.
Whilst it is still common to see this scam tried with 0898 numbers, the general populace is wisening to the fact that these have a high cost per minute.
Additionally, with the telecoms market becoming more open to competition other, well less known, dialling prefixes are becoming an option to the scammers.
In many cases the provider of a premium number can dictate their own call cost.
Sure, the telecoms Ombudsman states that these costs should be transparent to the caller, but do you think scammers care about being up front with their charges?
They positively don’t want you to know what you will be paying.
Returning the call to one of these numbers can generally go one of two ways – either a hefty fee will be charged to your mobile or phone account immediately for making the call, or the scammer will attempt to engage you in conversation for as long as possible to maximise his revenue from the call cost.
A slightly newer variant on this theme is the SMS scam.
The end goal is as above, i.e. to get you to call a premiumm rate number.
However, the inducement is not via a missed call.
Instead, you will receive a text message, offering one of many possible inducements to call their number – a “prize”, a discounted holiday, etc.
So, to conclude, the best advice with these is ignorance…. if you receive a missed call or text message from a number you don’t recognise then leave it well alone.
If it was someone who needed to contact you urgently then they are sure to call back.