By answering the phone, the victims of the scam are informed that the call is from their telephone company.
The “operator” then runs tests to verify that the line is working, saying they are needed to make sure the line is not cut while repair work is in progress.
For many people, a cut-off line would mean no phone or internet connection – enough of an incentive to take the tests.
The “operator” then asks the recipients to call back on a number which is told them that it is free, but which is in fact an expensive call abroad.
Hundreds of people didn’t find out they were victims of the scam until months later, when they received a phone bill saying the call to an African country was costing them hundreds of dollars.
The scam was also launched in the form of an answering machine message from the so-called operator asking recipients to call back to a supposedly free number.
Victims should contact their phone operator to see if they can claim a full or partial refund for the fraudulent call.
You can also block calls to premium rate and foreign numbers from your landline.
All service providers are legally required to provide information on how to do this, although the blocking process is slightly different from provider to provider.
You may be able to change your preferences through your online account under the heading blocking premium rate calls.
You can also contact your telephone company directly to find out how to block calls.
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