Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Missed calls that could cost you €20,000 or more - and it's legal

SPAIN Circulating on the Internet ether is a warning about a couple of numbers that are apparently costing the victims enormous phone bills. (We haven't tried them because we're not stupid and can't afford to be anyway.) The numbers are: 911 140 680  and 911 111 341, apparently Madrid numbers - except that there are no 91-followed-by-1 numbers there. According to at least one forum on the subject -and there are many- the number often appears as a missed call without even ringing. What happens then?(Articles such as this, and many more, will soon be available on SpainInformer.com)

If you don't know anyone in Madrid you wouldn't have called the number, would you?

If you do call it you will hear a recorded message (in Spanish) telling you that you have an urgent message. It will ask you to send a text message to a given number.  If you do that, you will have requested registration on one of those numbers you can't get away from - there are loads of those, too. There's the thing: just that first call, according to the forums, is likely to cost between €1,100 and €1,500 if you give the data you're asked for. That could be followed by gigantic phone bills. But you can't legally claim it's a scam because, believe it or not IT IS LEGAL!

The thing is, you actually 'requested' the service via a text message. None of the phone companies will accept any responsibility, and you will have enormous trouble getting taken off the so-called 'service'. The forums are full of people saying they have had to change numbers and even companies - and we know how difficult that can be.

Foreign residents with enough Spanish to get by are particularly prone to this scam (well, we say it's a scam, however 'legal' it may be) because they may not fully understand the recorded message. In any case, whatever you do, do not give any details about yourself or your phone or anything at all, without being absolutely sure of what you're doing.

Expats with good Spanish can check if any number is dangerous on quienmellama.com. In fact, put in any of those two numbers in the space provided and see what it says for yourself. We did that, and haven't yet had our phone bill.

Because this warning is riding on the Internet, other similar numbers are being used. Just remember that the Madrid code 91 is NEVER followed by a 1.

The thing is, why is this legal, and what's being done about it?

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