Lowering the tone

By BYRON MOORE

PARENTS and bill-payers should be wary of the latest scam involving unsuspecting mobile phone customers snared in a free ringtones trap.

Recently Kingscliff teenager Dale Walker downloaded a "free" ringtone from an internet website to his phone, expecting it to be a one-off transaction that would give his phone a new ring.

But instead his phone kept receiving texts with the words "message can not be displayed" from a 1300 number. It turned out Dale had unwittingly signed up to a "Premium Rate SMS Customer Service" that cost $3 per text message received, and almost $80 of credit had been used before he realised what was happening.

But when Dale complained to Telstra about what was happening, they could only tell him to contact the number sending the costly messages.

When Dale's outraged mother, Shane, called the 1300 number she was informed by an automated answering service: "In order to stop receiving SMS messages on your phone please enter mobile phone number after the tone."

But Dale Walker is just one of a growing number of victims in this latest scheme designed to attract young teenagers who want the latest pop songs as ring tones for their phones and are unlikely to read the fine print attached.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reported earlier this year that there has been a huge surge in complaints made about premium SMS scams.

Telecommunications Ombudsman John Pinnock said in a statement released in March that advertising these services was of particular concern as they were "often attractive to young people who may take the advertisements at face value."

oRingtones reflect person- alities, Page 17



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