Watch out for this 070 phone scam

Chances are, you know that calling a 0845 number is likely to incur a cost but what about when you ring a number beginning 070…?

“070” might look like the beginning of a mobile phone number but in fact it’s the prefix used for digital numbers. This week, Action Fraud have reported that “070” numbers have featured in over 2,600 fraud reports they’ve received over the past year. This is because some 070 numbers are connecting victims to premium rate numbers when called, leaving the unsuspecting caller with big phone bills.

Although “070” numbers are legitimate, calls to these numbers are charged at a premium rate and they have long been used by fraudsters to scam unwitting victims. Calls from a landline can cost up to 65p p/min and may incur an additional call set-up fee of up to 51p. Calls from mobiles can cost up to £1.50 p/min. In extreme cases, Action Fraud say that victims have received triple figure phone bills as a result of calling these premium rate numbers.

What makes this worse is this scam method makes it very difficult to catch the fraudsters. While the thieves provide “070” numbers to victims, these numbers then divert to a VoIP number. This method allows phone calls to be made and received anywhere in the world via the internet the calls are hard to trace which makes it tough to catch the cyber crooks.
According to Action Fraud, some of the key methods being used by fraudsters are:

  • Fraudster sends a text message to or leaves a voicemail/missed call on the victim’s phone. The victim then calls back assuming this is a UK mobile number and is unwittingly connecting to a premium rate number.
  • Fraudster places an advert for a job on an online shopping/auction site along with an “070” number for the victim to call to obtain more information about the post and/or apply for it over the phone.
  • Fraudster contacts an individual who is selling an item on a shopping website and sends fake PayPal emails to the victim requesting a shipping fee to be paid via Western Union, prior to the payment being released to the victim. They will often provide an “070” number, causing the victim to incur further charges if they attempt to make contact.

Help yourself avoid becoming a victim of this scam

As with any scam, one of the best things you can do to avoid becoming a victim is to stay wary. So if anyone approaches you online with an “070” number or provides one for contact then it could be a scam and you shouldn’t phone the number.

Action Fraud suggest that you should also consider informing PhonepayPlus which regulates premium numbers and has statutory powers to stop mobile phone frauds and fine the offenders.

If you think you’ve been a victim of this fraud or any other then you should report it to Action Fraud. To do so and to receive a police crime reference number you can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool.