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Gang jailed for hijacking phones to call premium lines

A gang of four who hijacked mobile phones to defraud Vodafone customers of £2.8 million by making calls to premium rate numbers have been jailed.

The men obtained customer details from data management firms and linked mobile numbers to SIM cards by posing as legitimate account holders.

The gang called premium rate lines. Credit: Edward Smith/EMPICS Entertainment

They then used the cards to repeatedly make calls to premium rate lines they had purchased, with connection charges of around £2.50 each time.

Around 1,500 accounts were hijacked, costing Vodafone in excess of £1 million.

Kaleem Hussain, 30, was jailed for 38 months, Nadeem Ali, 26, got 21 months, Waseem Rashid, 26, got 30 months. All were from Rotherham.

Imran Rasab, 35, from Mexborough in south Yorkshire, received a four year sentence.

'Gremlins in the system' causes EE network outage

Mobile network EE has apologised after some customers were left with 'no service' and unable to make calls.

On its Twitter account, the network explained there was "gremlins in the system" and they were working to fix the problem.

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Roaming charges abroad set to end in 2015

Using a mobile phone in another European country could soon be cheaper than using it at home says the European parliament's Industry Committee, who are voting to pass the legislation today.

Roaming to be abolished in December 2015 Credit: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Roaming is a method of wirelessly connecting to a network without breaking your connection when abroad. A phone user can connect to at least 15 operators and virtual networks when abroad including Three, Virgin Media, France's Free and Italy's FastWeb.

According to the EU bill, this will give them "the confidence to stay connected when they travel in the Union without being subject to additional charges over and above the tariffs."

Mobile phone industry must 'banish bad behaviour'

The mobile phone industry needs to "banish bad behaviour" by communicating more with their customers about upcoming bills and their current usage, the Citizen's Advice Bureau has said.

Chief executive Gillian Guy wants to see phone providers help their customers by texting them with reminders about costs and limits:

It's time the industry looked at how it could banish bad behaviour and help customers avoid large bills.

Phone providers could help people by sending them text messages with reminders about the costs and any limits they have. There is also an opportunity for firms to be innovative by creating tools for people to keep day-to-day track of their charges, calls and data use.

Consumers can also take steps to steer clear of running up a large bill abroad including checking costs with their network before they travel or getting a local sim card if you visit a place regularly.

– Gillian Guy

Mobile customers face 'shockingly high' bills

Mobile phone companies are not doing enough to prevent the "shockingly high" bills some customers face after making calls abroad, using the internet or having their phone stolen, an advisory service has warned.

Shock bills were not just caused by calls - users browsing the internet also faced huge bills. Credit: PA

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has called on mobile phone companies, like Vodafone and O2, to do more to protect customers from huge bills.

The advisory service said 28,000 issues relating to mobile phones and contracts were reported last year and a further 102,000 people sought help online, with complaints including shock bills, phantom charges and billing errors.

One woman who contacted the CAB has been slapped with a £2,000 bill after using wi-fi in a hotel lobby in the USA.

Other customers were forced to take out loans to pay bills - one complainant had to borrow £408 for his bank after a billing error meant he was overcharged for his mobile phone service.

New plans to tackle 'confusion' over service numbers

Ofcom has announced measures to make the cost of calling businesses and services more transparent for consumers from June 2015.

They include:

  • Clearer pricing for all numbers starting 08, 09 and 118.
  • Cost of service numbers will be broken down into an ‘access charge’ to phone company, plus a ‘service charge’ to the company or organisation.
  • The service charge for premium rate (09) numbers will be capped.
  • Consumer calls to Freephone (0800, 0808 and 116) numbers which are generally free from landlines, will become free from mobile phones too.
  • Confusion around 0845 numbers - which are sometimes tied to the cost of a geographic call - will be addressed.

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Telephone call charges 'to be made simpler' from 2015

Charges for telephone calls to business and services will be made simpler from 2015 with clearer pricing for all numbers starting 08, 09 and 118, Ofcom has announced.

Under new plans, 080 freephone numbers will be free from mobiles as well as landlines.

Ofcom said the changes should all be implemented by 2015. Credit: Press Association

Ofcom said the measures are designed to tackle "consumer confusion" over non-geographic’ service numbers that have a range of uses, from finding out information to banking, directory enquiry and entertainment services.

Its aim is to make prices more transparent, improve competition, restore consumer confidence in non-geographic service numbers and increase their usage.

Labour: Phone bills cap should not be voluntary

Labour criticised the Government's new measures to cap mobile phone bills for victims of handset theft as "not strong enough protection" for consumers, because it relies on voluntary participation from phone companies.

By relying on a voluntary approach they are not giving strong enough protection to consumers, who too often face phone rip-offs.

Labour has clear plans that the Government should implement now.

Caps on charges run up on stolen phones should be fixed at £50.The companies should also be required to give people warnings when reaching limits on texts and phone call and concrete steps should be taken on the recycling of handsets.

– Helen Goodman, Labour’s Shadow Communications Minister

The measures, set to be introduced next spring, include a break-off clause if call prices rise mid-contract, but Ms Goodman said this will "fail" most people with phone contracts.

"Existing fixed contracts should be fixed – introducing ‘fixed means fixed’ from January will fail most mobile users."

Miller: Mobile deal protects families from price hikes

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said the Government's new deal with telecoms providers will help to prevent families with mobile phones being hit with surprise price rises mid-contract.

We are ensuring hard-working families are not hit with shock bills through no fault of their own.

Families can be left struggling if carefully planned budgets are be blown away by unexpected bills from a stolen mobile or a mid-contract price rise.

This agreement with the telecoms companies will deliver real benefits to consumers and help ensure people are not hit with shock bills.

– Culture Secretary Maria Miller

What phone users can expect from 'shock' bills cap

Here are details of the new measures to protect mobile phone users from "shock bills", which are expected to be enforced from next spring

  • A new liability cap - expected to be £50 - on mobiles that are lost or stolen
  • A right to be informed if prices rise mid-contract
  • A right to break off the contract without penalty if they don't want to pay higher rates
  • BT, Sky and TalkTalk have agreed to support Government efforts to eliminate EU roaming charges by 2016.
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