Most of us are much more aware of the way scams target people these days and are very cautious of anything suspicious, but this new mobile scam is baffling the networks.
Customers are receiving a call from an 0845 or 0843 number, not answering, then getting a bill saying they have made calls for up to 12 hours! The customer never answers — the call typically lasts just a fraction of a second — and it's recorded on their mobile handset as a missed call.
Customers who have been targeted by this scam have then been sent a text by their mobile provider blocking their phone due to high usage, or been hit by a huge bill, with the phone companies records showing that the customer called the 0845 or 0843 number back for between 3 and 12 hours. And no one knows how this scam works!
So far Vodafone customers seem to have been hit the hardest, but it is a problem being reported across all networks and Ofcom are now investigating.
What happens? You receive a missed call from an 0845 or 0843 number with no voicemail message left. Weeks later the victim will gets a huge bill of up to £300 showing they have called the 0845 or 0843 number back.
How does it work? One theory is that hackers are getting hold of 0845 accounts, setting up high fees for incoming calls, then hacking into mobiles and changing their settings to automatically call back if there is a missed call from the scammer's 08 number, but that is just a theory at present.
What can you do? If you receive a call from a suspicious 0845 or 0843 number, make a note of it and make sure you check your next mobile phone bill. The good news is that the phone companies recognise that this is a scam and genuine victims of this scam are being refunded.
Ofcom has said: "We are very concerned to hear of a number of people receiving mobile charges they didn't expect. Ofcom is working with the mobile operators, industry experts and partner regulators to establish the causes and address the problem.
"We are pleased that Vodafone is blocking suspicious numbers and refunding affected customers. We advise those who believe they are affected to contact their phone company promptly."
So make sure you take note of the number if you receive one of these missed calls, check your bills and contact the phone company straight away if you have been affected.