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€):
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!