Combating Phone Shock

A BBC report recently highlighted the case of a painter and decorator who received a mobile phone bill of nearly £7000. The charges were apparently caused by multiple downloads and are currently the subject of dispute between the individual and his mobile provider.
Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated instance and a quick search of the internet will reveal numerous instances of bill shock due to roaming charges, stolen phones or data downloads. Whilst Ofcom and the European regulators have taken steps to limit the cost of calling within the EU, there is still no limit on calls made outside the EU or on the cost of data downloads to smartphones.
So grave is the problem of phone shock that a group of MPs took up the case earlier in 2012 and Ofcom themselves are currently working with phone companies with a view to limiting the amount which a customer may lose if their phone is stolen. Until the matter is resolved all mobile owners should take great care to understand their charging structure if they have a smartphone and to notify their provider the instant they think their phone may have been stolen.
But it is not just mobile owners who are at risk of phone shock. With Christmas approaching it pays all businesses to take a look at their own phone security. As offices close for the Christmas break the phone thieves move in, tapping into switchboards and making long distance calls. But there are a few simple steps which businesses can take to thwart the thieves.
Firstly, make sure that all PIN numbers are changed regularly. Many businesses are still working with factory default PINs and this is open sesame for phone call thieves. Secondly, if extensions are to be left vacant for the holidays then disconnect them so that they can’t be used by default. With a virtual switchboard this is a simple process with extensions being switched on and off as business needs dictate. Finally, if the business doesn’t need to phone abroad then block all international calls and consider blocking calls to premium rate numbers, another favourite of call thieves.
As with any potential disaster, prevention is better than cure and taking steps to minimise phone shock should be a vital part of any business continuity plan. With the phone thieves becoming ever more inventive it pays to take steps now to limit the potential for misappropriated calls this Christmas or at any time.

Written by Lawrence Gow