Action Needed on Rogue Diallers

  Pesala 18:25 30 Aug 2004

The Helproom shows plenty of people fall victim to these scams. This unfortunate couple lost £700 click here

How much longer before legislation comes into effect to catch the rogues?

  Forum Editor 19:25 30 Aug 2004

but what, and how?

One of the problems facing legislators is the necessity to be able to identify - and subsequently prosecute the perpetrators of this kind of thing. It isn't enough merely to say that BT must be held to account - they aren't really in a position to know when a person has deliberately dialed into a premium rate number and when he/she hasn't. Any change in the law has to take into account the fact that publicly owned companies must be allowed the freedom to develop their business and maximise their profits with as little intereference from the state as possible. If a few unscrupulous people decide to take advantage of the system to fleece innocent subscribers it's regrettable, but it isn't sufficient cause to take draconian action that might penalise legitimate premium rate users.

The Computer Misuse Act of 1990 was drafted with hacking in mind, and no offence exists when a dialer is downloaded because the computer owner invariably agrees to the installation - albeit without realising what's going on. The act of agreement is sufficient to take the installation outside the Misuse act's provision that covers Unauthorised modification of computer material - or at least I think it does.

If a dialer is covertly downloaded and installed - without the owner knowing or agreeing - and said dialer subsequently alters the way the computer works (which is surely does if it changes the dial-up number without the owner knowing) then I would argue that a law already exists to deal with it. Under the CMA there's an offence - punishable with up to 5 years imprisonment - of attempting to modify computer material with intent to impair its operation. I would argue that the person who causes the dialer to be downloaded and/or installed IS attempting to impair the operation of the machine.

We'll gave to wait and see, but I hope it doesn't take too long before there's some action; the internet comes in for enough criticism as it is, we don't need this.

Finally - let's not be too quick to censure BT on this (not that you have Pesala) - it's not their fault.

  Pesala 19:53 30 Aug 2004

I agree it is impossible to legislate for everything, and there are sure to be some who would attempt to use any legislation aimed at rogues to their own advantage, e.g. refusing to pay for premium rate services that they had agreed to.

I would have thought it reasonable for BT to have some kind of compensation scheme in place since they profit from premium rates. There are also many cases where teenagers using premium rate numbers without their parents' permission.

Perhaps what is needed is that the telephone bill payer would need to ask for each premium rate number to be enabled rather than having to ask for them to be blocked.

When I dial a free phone number on my mobile I get a recorded message saying that the call will be charged at local rates. Perhaps something like that, but which also required the user's intervention (e.g. pressing the hash key) could prevent automated dialing of premium rate numbers altogether.

  VoG II 20:02 30 Aug 2004

According to PC Advisor (September 2004 p14) Ictsis is to introduce a licence scheme to try to clampdown on rogue premium-rate diallers.

  georgemac 21:46 30 Aug 2004

BT make a profit, but not so much as the companies running the number.

Pesela has an excellent idea where the phone line renter would have to authorise the use of a premium rate number in advance.

I'm just back from a mates house, where the PC was riddled with trojan diallers, now all gone. The number shown as being dialled was the freeserve anytime number, and I certainly hope it was. Hope they have no shocks awaiting them.

AVG was not updated, firewall was running, and spywareblaster was installed but had not been updated.

Was impressed with the peformance of adaware SE personal edition, cleaned a lot of trojans etc that the others had missed. A lot were in system restore folder, which I had turned off. AVG then found nothing.

  georgemac 22:20 30 Aug 2004

if the renter had to authorise the use of a premium rate number in advance, BT would then be unable to charge a monthly fee to block premium rate numbers, as they do now!

Premium rate number scams are causing more and more misery for BT's customers, but I agree mainly it is not BT's causing or problem. However it is now apparent that this industry is out of control and something must be done. This will be unfortunate for the genuine firms who do everything above board, a hefty license fee might work, but the potential rewards from a scam are so large it would have to be a huge fee to be effective.

Personally, I would like to see a code of practice, where a line renter can stipulate that they do not want to be able to access premium rate numbers, and this option should be provided free of charge.

How can we get this, by submitting numerous complaints to Ofcom, and by writing to your MP.

  georgemac 22:31 30 Aug 2004

I may be wrong - this article says BT will offer free premium rate number blocking click here , but when I looked at the BT website, call barring service is £1.75 per month.

Still a lot cheaper than the sting of a rogue dialler.

  TOPCAT® 20:07 31 Aug 2004

I was unaware I had a rogue dialler on my PC even though I use ZA Pro, AVG and SpywareBlaster. All are kept updated. As recommended by PCA's Julian Moss I decided to try out Spybot Search and Destroy. Imagine my surprise and shock when SS&D on its first run came up with "", a German dialler, which according to SS&D, costs 100 euros a minute!

No sign yet that it was ever active from my phone company, but I am grateful that SS&D picked it up where my other utilities failed. I recommend this free software to everyone. TC.

  CurlyWhirly 20:24 31 Aug 2004

Going off the subject but if more people upgraded to broadband they wouldn't need to worry about rogue diallers (as they don't work with broadband modems) as long as they remembered to unplug the dial-up modem!
Especially now as broadband is becomming nearly as cheap as dial-up anyway.

  Dorsai 20:42 31 Aug 2004

How many of the premiunm rate number fraudsters actually originate in the country that is targeted?

If is was, say, a UK company that targeted UK dial up users, and the complaints rolled in at the end of the month, when the bill arrived, it would seem to be an easy job for BT to not pay the UK based company that did it,and put the cash in a 'suspence acount' till matters sorted, by the legal system.

If i wanted to do this i would i would use caller ID. Most of the western world use digital exchanges. These mostly allow for caller ID. This demographic i assume also accounts for a large proportion of net usage.

So? I set up a premium rate number up in 'a country'. Then set the 'bits of kit that answer the incoming call' to use caller ID. If the call comes from within they don't answer, they only answer international calls. That way, you are not upsetting you own country's telecom provider.

As international agreements prevent Bt (or any other telecom provider) from with-holding payment to another countries telecom provider, you are guaranteed payment. At then end of the month the money arrives. you take it, and scarper.


  zanwalk 21:57 31 Aug 2004

Broadband, yes very nice if you can get it! Quite a few of us live in rural areas with little prospect of B/B coming soon unfortunately.

Agree with you though for those who have access.

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