The endless abuse of “phone books” using the prefixes 118


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A scam that consists of advertising high-cost numbers while pretending that they are the direct telephones of large companies or public institutions. When a citizen calls, the conversation is diverted to the real company he was trying to contact; but always after charging the high price per minute of 118, which can reach 3.03 euros per minute.

The Government already regulated these prefixes in February 2018 and since then it is obliged to establish a clearer prior announcement informing the price. A maximum talk time is also set to 10 minutes and the call setup is suppressed. In addition, if the price for the call progression exceeds 2.5 euros per minute, the formal and express request of the user will be necessary.

Before these regulations came into force, up to six euros could be charged per call establishment. However, consumer associations denounce that this regulation is not enough and demand greater intervention by the Executive.

In this sense, Facua-Consumidores en Acción regrets that the Government continues to disregard its demands to protect consumers from the “numerous frauds” that occur through telephone lines with a prefix 118. “The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has not replied in writing who transferred him more than a year ago exposing the irregularities and the Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation has responded that the current regulations are effective and that the sector is continually subjected to controls, ”they explain from Facua. For its part, a spokesman for the Ministry of Consumption responded to ABC that it is a matter whose competence corresponds to the autonomous communities and recalled that irregularities in consumption matters must be reported to regional organizations.

In this context, Facua demands that the necessary regulatory modifications be made to prohibit the forwarding of calls from lines 118 to other numbers. They also demand more control and the introduction of the obligation for telecommunications operators to include in their receipts the information on the rights that assist consumers when they are billed for calls to these numbers.

The association adds that it is surprising that if, as defended by the Ministry led by Nadia Calviño in her letter, “the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructures continuously inspects the operation of information services on telephone numbers 118”, no have noticed the large number of companies that are committing these scams.

From the OCU consumer association they also criticize that the Government has rejected their main claims in this regard: that they be considered additional pricing services for all purposes, that they be offered disabled by default and a more precise definition of responsibilities and sanctions in case of non-compliance .

Up to 30 euros for 10 minutes

The prices of calls to these lines can cost up to 3.03 euros per minute (2.50 euros plus VAT). With these figures, a 10-minute conversation can exceed 30 euros. The regulations of the sector allow these rates to be higher in certain numbers that require the prior consent of the user to activate access to them. Consequently, the rate continues to apply once the call is diverted to the phone that really belongs to the company or administration that the user was looking for.

From the OCU they indicate that the high prices and the advertising with which they are sometimes promoted should put users on alert to avoid falling into the bait. The numbering allows you to offer «call progression», that is, they make the call and continue to charge as if you were talking to 1118. «A call that was going to be short can take several minutes and the result can be catastrophic for your pocket », They warn from the OCU.

For its part, Facua advises users who demand that their companies cancel the charges for calls to lines 118 if they were made as a result of a deception. The consumer may also demand a reimbursement if at the beginning of the call there was no initial announcement to clearly inform its price per minute.

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