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Regulatory authority halts payment: no money for phone fraudsters

In a special meeting convened at short notice, the regulatory authority stopped the cases of misuse of value-added service numbers that had become known last week and issued an official decision imposing a temporary halt on the payment of fees until 30 January 2016. The relevant value-added service numbers notified to the authorities as the object of improper use are: (0)900 566581, (0)900 566544, (0)900 560350, (0)900 570800, (0)931 909020, (0)900 570888, (0)900 577533 and (0)900 577899. Three of the four service providers reachable via these valued-added numbers have their registered offices in Germany, while one firm is registered in Turkey.

Several cases were brought to the attention of the regulatory authority last week. The cases involved misleading consumers, under false pretences and with fraudulent intent, to make long phone calls to expensive value-added service numbers.

Previously paid fees to be credited

“The payment halt means that, for calls made to these value-added numbers, no fees will be paid out by Austrian phone network operators to the four companies identified,” stated Johannes Gungl, CEO of RTR’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Division, explaining the action taken by the regulatory authority. “This will only apply, however, to the fees not yet paid out to the service providers by the phone networks. Either the consumers will not have to pay the fees or they will be credited with the amounts on their next phone bills,” Gungl further explained.

In the case of fees which phone network operators have already paid out to the four service providers, the individuals affected will need to file a complaint concerning their phone bills. The option also exists of requesting RTR to conduct a conciliation procedure.

Official notice of the regulatory authority’s decision has already been given through publication (in German) at https://www.rtr.at/en/tk/Bescheid_R_3_15.

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