RSPCA demands action over fake phone number scam

rspca-domestic-violence-inspectorThe RSPCA is calling on Ofcom and Google to act over a slew of rogue websites which are advertising phone numbers that sucker callers into racking up huge bills before being diverted them to the RSPCA’s National Control Centre.
The charity says it has contacted representatives of Google and has lodged an official complaint with Ofcom, after it found “eight different websites with incorrect numbers in the first ten pages” of a search.
The discovery has also triggered the charity to issue a ‘phone scam warning’, which claims “rogue websites advertising fake RSPCA numbers are scamming the public and potentially leaving animals without the care they need”.
Once dialled, the fake numbers – which just so happen to be premium rate lines that can cost up to £3.60 a minute – force callers to hold before being forwarded to the official RSPCA contact centre, meaning callers may not be immediately aware of the scam.
The charity says it receives a call to its cruelty line every 27 seconds and received 64,379 calls in September in England and Wales. However it has been unable to “record the volume of calls from these fake numbers”.
RSPCA head of education and advice Dave Allen said: “The amount of sites out there advertising incorrect contact numbers for our charity is very worrying. We are urging people to watch out for websites with fake numbers and information that doesn’t sound quite right. Some of the sites can be quite convincing with unauthorised feeds from the RSPCA official Twitter and Facebook page which makes them look all the more real.
“Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get these sites shut down but the RSPCA has been trying to solve this issue by reporting the problem to Google so that the sites are not ranked highly in searches. We have also lodged a complaint to the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom and now we are trying to raise awareness of this scam with the general public.
“Not only can these numbers leave people with a hefty phone bill but it also means members of the public may be put off contacting us when an animal is in desperate need of care.”

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