Tonight I received the latest quarterly telephone bill from British Telecom for the house here.
I arrived here on 29 July. So, as you would expect, there are no calls listed on the bill until 29 July …
That is, except for two calls to the premium rate numbers 09066 361152 and 09066 361153, on the afternoon of 10 July. Total cost for the two short calls, more than £11.
This is most interesting, because there was no one here on 10 July. My dad is the only other person who has a key and he hadn’t visited. He lives by himself fifty miles away, hasn’t been driving any long distances recently and has his own ‘phone.
Furthermore, when I arrived on the 29th July, there was a massive pile of junk mail behind the front door, which wouldn’t have been where it was if anyone had entered the house less than three weeks before.
The ‘phone companies and regulator like to make out that calls can only show on the bill if someone in the household has made the calls.
But here is a case where no calls were made from this number at all for a long period before 29 July 2006, except for these two premium rate calls to consecutive numbers in the space of 20 minutes on one afternoon. If this doesn’t clearly show that phantom calls can and do appear on a ‘phone bill when the household hasn’t made them, I don’t know what will.
I await BT’s response and will share it with you. Meanwhile I just found this:
And here’s a House of Commons debate about Premium Rate scams, from 2004.
Update (29 Sep 2006): It turns out the two calls were to adult services. BT has refunded the cost of them but says it can find no evidence that my line has been abused.
To be fair, they have handled this quickly and had suggested I pay the bill minus the two calls, until they finished their investigation.
They offer free barring of UK-based premium-rate calls, so I’ve had that restriction put on both my numbers, as I have no real interest in calling these numbers.
The whole incident has been quite alarming. But I have to be thankful that it was just a few Pounds and not several hundreds…