Ofcom to investigate rising cost of 118 directory enquiries numbers
Ofcom is reviewing 118 telephone numbers amidst concern over the spiralling cost of directory enquiries services.
The telecoms regulator said the cost of calling 118 numbers has “risen significantly in recent months as fewer people use these services”.
It said there are now more than 400 directory enquiries services with call costs ranging from 35p per call to more than £9.
A call to one of the best-known services, 118 118, will cost you a minimum of £8.98 plus an ‘access charge’ set by your phone network provider.
BT’s 118 500 service charges a minimum of £5.50 per call, as does the 118 24 7 number run by Yell.
Calls to the old BT service 192, which made way for 118 numbers in 2003, cost just 40p.
Ofcom is also investigating the use of 070 numbers, which allow calls to be diverted from one number to another so the person being called can keep their own number private but remain contactable.
They are often used by small businesses and sole traders to make it easy for them to manage calls.
But Ofcom said scammers are taking advantage of the fact that 070 numbers can easily be confused for mobile numbers that start 07.
It said it has evidence of scams that make people believe they are calling a mobile number when it is actually a service costing £3.40 a minute.
Ofcom is looking at potential consumer protection measures that could be introduced by the Phone-paid Services Authority and said it will report on the findings of its own investigation later this year.
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