Science and Technology
Do not respond to calls from numbers starting with +375
If you have been receiving calls from numbers starting with a suspicious looking '+375', leaving you perplexed with guessing the identity of the caller, then this bit of information may just be the thing you need.
According to a report by MiD-Day, following an alarming increase in the number of instances of subscribers receiving missed calls from such numbers, a message has been circulating around on the BlackBerry Messenger, WhatsApp and Facebook, which reads - “Guys, please take this very seriously. People have been receiving calls from a +375 number and disconnecting after a single ring. If you call back, it’s one of those numbers that you will be charged $15-30 and they will copy your contact list within three seconds and if you have your bank or credit card details, they will copy that too. Don’t pick up these calls.”
However, according to Vijay Mukhi, an IT expert was quoted by this MiD-Day report as saying, "It is impossible to copy someone’s contacts and bank details from a phone, without hacking into it. It is an old scam under the Priority Payment Number a computer program dials as many series of numbers as possible. There is one ring for giving a missed call. We believe it to be an international number and call back following which the service provider charges the caller for making an international call. The money thus charged is then paid to the company owning the number by the service provider. A portion of this money is then paid to the scammer by the company. So, the only advice is to never call back."
Several forums across the Internet have been flooded with worried, duped subscribers venting their frustration at the situation. One such forum, called WhoCallsMe, had several users coming forward with similar complaints. One user said, “I got a call from +375297298451,” with other users voicing similar sentiments.
Instances of subscribers receiving missed calls from suspicious looking numbers are neither novel, anymore nor are they few in number. Early January, this year, we had reported about several Vodafone subscribers, especially in Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Uttar Pradesh (East and West) complaining of receiving missed calls from dubious ISD numbers, like +22455xxxxx. What was even more worrying was that those who tried to call back on these numbers were charged a whopping Rs.45 per minute. Airtel users, too, had complained of a similar incident before this, wherein users complained of receiving missed calls from numbers starting with +92.
Scores of BSNL subscribers, too complained of receiving missed calls from dubious looking ISD numbers, and on calling back were charged a whopping Rs.50/ minute. The missed calls, especially were from numbers starting with - +263xxxx and +960xxxxx. Users mostly in the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu telecom circles had been facing this issue.
An advisory on Airtel, asking people to stay alert if they happen to receive missed calls from numbers starting from +375, reads, “We would like to issue a general advisory to caution Indian telecom customers who are being arbitrarily targeted by calls fraudulently claiming the recipient customer as being a Prize/Lottery Winner. In these types of phone frauds, the customer returns a missed call to a +92 or +375 country code and inadvertently reaches a fraudster pretending to be representative of airtel or another Indian mobile operator and informs the customer of having won some lottery/prize money. The fraudster then attempts to trick the customer into divulging sensitive personal information and to pay a commission to receive the winnings. Such commission is usually asked to be paid via an international DTH operator’s recharge vouchers.” Click here to know further the necessary steps that should be taken.
The number of such instances seem to be rising with each passing month, with unsuspecting users falling prey to such tricks. Being aware, at the moment seems to be the only way out, at least till officials look into the matter and resolve it. Till then, if you do receive missed calls from numbers starting from +375, then do not call back.
By Anuradha Shetty
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