Monday, 16 April 2007

ADT adds daily premium rate phone charges

Another interesting news article, from the Guardian on Saturday:

'Phantom' calls raise the alarm

Premium rate lines: Patrick Collinson on a lucrative security mystery

(Saturday April 14, 2007, The Guardian)

Ben Whitney's father just could not work out why his phone bill was so high. He's retired and recovering from a stroke, so he asked his son to take a look at it. The thing puzzling him most was a 20p or 23p call every day, sometimes twice a day, to an 0906 number at 1.17am each morning. The calls had started months ago, and if they carried on were likely to add £100 a year to his bill.

The calls lasted only a few seconds, but the high cost alerted Mr Whitney to the fact that they must be premiumrate lines. Had some rogue dialler or trojan software hijacked his father's phone? He contacted industry regulator Icstis for help - and was astonished to discover that the premium rate calls were being auto-dialled from the family home's ADT burglar alarm as it made a daily registration contact with the ADT monitoring centre.

Mr Whitney and his father were flabbergasted. The alarm had cost more than £1,000 to install, plus monthly service charges . The last thing his father had expected was another £100 or so a year in premium rate phone calls. "I traced the number via the Icstis website to ADT alarms," says Mr Whitney. " I made some enquiries and was told that this type of ADT alarm has to 'check in' every day by calling in to their system. The units come with an expensive revenue-generating number as default but I was told they can be modified to call a cheaper 0870 number by an ADT engineer."

The ADT call centre assured him that on the next inspection visit by an ADT technician, the line would be changed.

"However, the engineer who called knew nothing about this or how to change it. I was astounded that this information had to be uncovered by me and was not something that the company tell their customers when the unit is fitted, " says Mr Whitney.

The article continues on, you can see the rest of the story here

It's well worth noting that's service will continuously monitor its status through your home's broadband connection at no additional charge, not just once a day over a premium phone call as ADT's does.