Would you believe that something is a humble phone call? The premium rate telephone service is one of the biggest rackets of the modern age. Okay, if you want to phone a woman or even a man who will whisper either sexual fantasies or unspeakable obscenities in your ear, fair enough. These are commercial services, safer than prostitution, and have no health risks. What though if you are phoning a government department or a company helpline?
The latter may charge you, certainly if it is paying technical staff for on-line support rather than simply responding to queries. There is though a consensus with the public that if you need to speak to a government department you should be charged the normal, commercial rate. Many queries are now dealt with on-line, of course, for which there is no charge at all.
This morning, Paul Lewis appeared on the BBC Breakfast
news programme where he told presenters Charlie Stayt and Louise Minchin something they appeared not to know, and which many members of the public appear not to know. Lewis presents the BBC Money Box
programme, which has a long track record of exposing rip offs.
One picture is worth a thousand words, so look at the two screengrabs below. As you can see, the first resulted from keying in the search string "paypal telephone number". The third entry is the Paypal consumer number; it comes up big, and is clearly an international call. The first entry is for a commercial company; look at the second screengrab, and before you are tempted to dial, READ THE SMALL PRINT.
The telephone regular PhonepayPlus
(formerly known as ICSTIS), has received numerous complaints about these kind of services, some of which have misleading names, and is now doing something about them.
Last month it was reported that the Government was moving to outlaw
084, 087 and other "rip-off" telephone numbers for enquiries and complaints.
If you are in any doubt about the plethora of premium rate numbers and scams, check out the regulator, which also has its own YouTube channel