Dialer scams were very popular a few years ago. Cutting a long story short, a dialer is a program that calls special premium-rate numbers without your consent and generates income for the ‘scammer’. These were effectively banned in Austria and Germany a few weeks ago…and the Mafia now strikes back with premium SMS.

A premium SMS is an SMS or MMS that you are charged for by the carrier – and a part of the money goes to the sender. Now, premium SMS scammers send out SMS like the one shown below(translated: have fun, you already wasted 10€):
0 Public service announcement: SMS scam running rampage in Austria

This serves two purposes: first of all, outraged user could potentially call back, causing income for the operator. But the scammer even earns money without you calling back -the carrier charges for delivery.

In my case, the price of the SMS was 3Euros(appox 5 UsD)…a sum that many people will not notice on their bill. Given a few thousand ‘sheep’, the scammer can make a nice living.

Defending yourself against scammers is easy, however:

Check your bills
in Austria, there is an old saying that goes along the lines of: vigilance is the mother of the crate full of china. Checking your bills for weird charges as they arrive will protect you from scams – if someone tries to rip you off, just call your carrier. Every somewhat cooperative carrier will then book the charge back…if he doesn’t, swapping carriers is a very good idea.

Consider a premium rate number lock
If you don’t need premium rate numbers(call proxies,…), why not block them all. Your carrier will offer this service for almost nothing – the peace of mind gained by this could well be worth the tiny fee(T-Mobile does it for free after a scam has occurred).

I am currently pursuing an interview with T-Mobile’s on the matter – stay tuned!

Related posts:

  1. Users gang up on australian phone spam company
  2. World Business Guide – the scam goes on
  3. SMS spam – now with phishing
  4. tele.ring Austria: negotiate your monthly contract rate
  5. Chinese “scam virus” claims 1 million victims

4 Responses to “Public service announcement: SMS scam running rampage in Austria”

  1. I had a similar problem with my carrier one here in Austria. My spouse got two 5 Euro SMS.

    I made a protest at the Telekom Regulator and at one. After approximately one week i got a mail from my carrier that the charges for the both sms were reversed.

    The form for the Telekom Regulator (RTR) in Austria is named “Registrierung einer Beschwerde bei der RTR-GmbH verbunden mit dem Aufschub der Fälligkeit gemäß § 71 Abs. 2 TKG 2003″ and you will find it at http://www.rtr.at/web.nsf/deutsch/Telekommunikation_Konsumentenservice_Schlichtungsstelle/$file/Formular%20Registrierung.doc

    Best regards Wolfgang

  2. The number 0900 959595 is registered for

    Mobilebizz Entertainment GmbH
    Ameisbachzeile 123/6/4
    A 1160 Wien

    See at: http://www.rtr.at/WWW/RFNr.nsf/deutsch/Telekommunikation~Nummerierung~Zugeteilte+Nummern

  3. Let me get this straight:

    In Austria, you can get billed for “premium SMS” you receive without your consent???

  4. Hi,
    yep – it apparently is that way.

    Thanks for looking up the number BTW – will call the guys and lets see what they say!

    Best regards
    Tam Hanna

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