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Cost trap: Service numbers

Be careful with numbers starting with 0137- or 0180-. Because calls to these numbers can be expensive. Check the fine print before you call such a number. Consumer centres frequently warn that these numbers are also used for rip-offs.

Whether on a quiz show or in customer service, we often come across fee-based service numbers. Trustworthy providers indicate the resulting costs, so that you can decide for yourself whether the call is worth the price. However, caution is advised if it is not clear how much the call will cost. This can lead to expensive surprises, especially if you call the hotline from your mobile phone. In the fine print you will usually find quite precise information on the price per minute from the German fixed network. When calling from the mobile network, on the other hand, it is often only stated that the charges may be more expensive. For example, you may be charged more than 1.00 euro per minute for a 0137 number, and some providers add a one-time dial-up fee of between 0.20 euro and 1.16 euro.

 

The charges are even higher if you dial an 0900 number. The fees for these numbers are set by the providers. After all, since February 2007, there has been a price cap of 30.00 euros per dial-in for block tariffs and 3.00 euros per call minute. These costs must be indicated free of charge before the charges are incurred. So you decide whether it is worth the money to you.

 

However, it becomes problematic if these numbers are abused. One problem that consumer centres regularly warn about is so-called "missed calls", i.e. calls that are made in your absence. It is very tempting to call back out of curiosity. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that an expensive hotline is hidden behind the number. Even if you are actually careful, you may not recognise such a number. If the country code (e.g., +49) is displayed first, a 0137 number, for example, reads quite differently and you may not recognise it at first glance.

 

Another example of abuse is a supposedly valuable prize that is announced to you by text message. To receive the prize, you are asked to call a 0900 number. These return calls can easily drag on for several minutes. And this at a per-minute rate of 3.00 euros. You are asked for personal data, but in the end all that is left, is an expensive phone call. Most of the time, fraudsters from abroad are behind this scam. Prosecution is therefore difficult and the victims usually do not get their money back.

 

Such SMS messages are often sent to mobile phone numbers that have been created with a random number generator. So, if you receive such a message, it does not necessarily mean that someone has gained unauthorised access to your number. The same applies to so-called premium SMS, i.e., SMS that are subject to a charge. For premium SMS, the costs incurred must also be communicated. A premium SMS may cost up to 9.99 Euros. It can be particularly expensive if you subscribe to a service (e.g., ring tones) with your return SMS. So you should also always be alert with SMS.

 

It is important to know that the costs for service numbers are not covered by any flat rate. The good news: Since you are using a pure prepaid offer with Ortel Mobile you can only suffer limited damage. You cannot spend more on calls than your available credit. Nevertheless, every euro you spend unnecessarily on service numbers and expensive text messages is annoying. Remember, if you are asked to give personal data over the phone, you should always be suspicious. Trustworthy providers would not ask you for such information in this way.