0843 numbers are not always scams but be aware of the potential to be caught out, particularly on returning missed calls.
What’s the scam?
The key to the scam is that 0843 numbers generate an income for their owners. An 0843 number normally costs up to 52p per minute to call, with up to 7p per minute passed on to the number’s owner.
Typically, the owners of a rogue 0843 number will automatically ring thousands of regular landline and mobile phone numbers, but hang up almost immediately. The people who receive these calls then see the 0843 number in their list of missed calls – and many will call the number back out of curiosity.
Alternatively, the scammer will pretend to be a bank or another trusted institution and send out text messages claiming that the recipient must call an 0843 number because of an issue with their account or a similar urgent matter.
The 0843 number’s owner then makes money from each call back they receive. Often, they will arrange for the 0843 number to connect the caller to a long recorded message or even a fake ringing tone, as a way of keeping them on the line for longer and increasing the call cost.
This kind of scam is often known as a ‘callback scam’, ‘cost trap’ or ‘wangiri’.
Are all 0843 numbers dangerous?
Most legitimate companies don’t use 0843 numbers for customer services any more, as this has been banned in most cases.
However, some companies use 0843 numbers as a way to charge for legitimate services, such as sales lines, technical helplines, conference call facilities or competitions.
Is it dangerous to answer 0843 calls?
You should not be charged to receive a call from an 0843 number, or any other normal UK phone number.
Paying to receive an incoming call is normally only possible through recognised ‘reverse charge’ call services which should seek your consent before connecting you.
Other numbers to be aware of
Numbers starting 0843 and 0844 are particularly common for this kind of scam, as they are fairly loosely regulated. However, the scam can occur using any 084, 087 or 09 numbers, as all numbers starting with these digits can be used to generate income for their owners.
Similar scams have also been operated on numbers starting with 070 and 076. These look similar to mobile phone numbers that also start with 07, but are charged at higher rates.
What to do
The easiest option is simply not to call back unfamiliar numbers that start with 070, 084, 087 or 09.
There is also a slight possibility that rogue apps, viruses or malware on a smartphone could cause the phone to make chargeable calls to 0843 numbers or other premium rate numbers without the user’s permission – so be careful about which apps you use and what you download.