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Oct 3, 2013

Phone Scam; have you been receiving international calls and losing your credit?

If you’ve received a call from a strange international number in the last day or so, and didn’t answer or call back, good for you. Because if you did answer, or call back, then you probably noticed that your credit was significantly depleted. There’s a phone scam being operated which is targeting both Smart and Digicell users. Both those companies sent out frantic alerts about the scam after customers called wanting to know why their credit was literally disappearing. This afternoon Smart’s P.R. Officer Ian Courtenay told News Five that they are in contact with their international providers to deal with the matter.

 

Ian Courtenay, PR Officer, Smart

“When customers in particular tried to call back to see the call that had been missed; they’ve been charged excessively high. This is a known practice internationally where these hackers are able to get funds or be paid for these calls and then the carriers who have wholesale rates between each other get left with the bill. So in the case of what happens in Belize is you get one of these numbers and if you answer or if you call back, you are build maybe five, six dollars per minute. And it is not per second billing; they are just billing you international for the minute even if you hang up immediately. So customers have been caught by that and so when you check your balance you will see a huge amount lost.”

 

Reporter

“What would you tell your customers to look out for?”

 

Ian Courtenay

Ian Courtenay

“We have on our website and on Facebook an advisory of numbers that we have found that have been using this practice. Our customer base has not been affected significantly by it, but following from some of the complaints and stuff, we have researched and found particular eight-eight-one, eight-eight-three, eight-two-three series numbers—but very out of the ordinary numbers. So we would advise customers if they see on their caller IDs strange numbers that they are not accustomed to or they don’t recognize to not answer those numbers until this situation is cleared up.”

 

Reporter

“So basically there is nothing that Smart, as a telecommunications provider, can do?”

 

Ian Courtenay

“Well what we have done is that we have been in communication with our international long-distant partners—Verizon and Sprint in particular—advising them of what has been happening. And they are the ones who have the sophisticated software and stuff to block those from the origination. We can’t, we don’t have access and the ability to do that because blocking a series would mean that legitimate customers may also be blocked. They have the capability of actually analyzing the calling patterns and determining exactly from which numbers these calls are coming from and then they will shut them down.”

 

In the case of Digicell users, those returning missed calls to the suspect numbers would find their entire credit balance depleted.

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