‘It’s awful’ – Pensioner unwittingly hit by £180 bill after pension tax concern
Rip Off Britain: Couple surprised by £69 phone bill charge
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On the BBC show Rip Off Britain, Pat spoke about her “awful” experience with a call connecting service. She said: “I needed to phone HMRC because when I looked at my pension, I thought they took a lot more tax out than they should have.
“So, I thought I’d better ring the tax office.”
She carried out a Google search to find their number but stumbled across a call contacting service starting with ‘09’.
She continued: “I thought I was calling an official number because it looked so official on the internet.”
After dialling the number, Pat faced a long wait of around 20 to 25 minutes. Music played whilst she waited but eventually Pat ended up getting cut off.
After looking again for the number, Pat finally got hold of HMRCs real, free number, beginning with ‘03’.
HMRC helped her sort out her tax issue however the calls she had made earlier to the other numbers had cost her greatly.
Pat only realised the true extent of this once she was stopped from making calls.
While speaking to her phone contractor, she learned she had gone over her limit.
Pat could not make any calls as she had gone over her monthly allowance.
The company explained what numbers she had phoned that had charged her, and that her total bill was £179.
The call connecting service didn’t even put Pat through to HMRC.
Instead, they charged her £3.60 per minute, whilst listening to hold music before cutting her off.
Pat said: “I think it’s awful for people to put these numbers on the internet for people like me to ring and then they’re making lots of money.
“Being a pensioner, you can’t afford it.”
It was only after Pats feature on BBC Watchdog that she was issued a full refund.
Each year many people face huge phone bills after dialling a call connecting service rather than the company hey are actually looking for.
The industry regulator, the Phone-paid Services Authority says it gets more complaints about this than anything else.
To crack down on these call connection services, Google banned all of these ads from their site in 2020.
However, Rip Off Britain found that the ban had not been all that successful as when they checked, they found many similar ads for contact numbers for the DVLA, HMRC and M&S.
In response, Google stated that in 2020 they removed over 99 million adverts in relation to restricted business and it has now begun to verify the identity of all advertisers on its platform.
Margaret, who had also fallen victim to these call connection services warns Britons: “If a phone number begins with ‘09’, don’t touch it. Just leave it alone.”
Express.co.uk has contacted Google asking for comment.
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