Rogue Diallers

The subject of ‘rogue diallers’ has been popping up a great deal in the media recently so I thought it was about time I recapped on exactly what a rogue dialler was and how you can protect yourself against them.

The idea behind a rogue dialler is surprisingly simple; you inadvertently download a small piece of software which alters your dial up settings so instead of dialling your normal freephone or local call rate number to access the Internet your computer starts using a premium rate number instead.Whilst you are blissfully unaware that you are now paying a couple of quid a minute to access the Internet someone is getting rich by exploiting you.It is worth bearing in mind that those of us with broadband aren’t susceptible to these problems as a Broadband modem doesn’t ‘dial out’ as such and so it is impossible for a rogue dialler to change the dial up number.

A common misconception is that your phone company should instantly refund you if you are affected by a rogue dialler but whilst a case of a pensioner receiving a £500 bill from BT due to a rogue dialler is upsetting, it is not the fault of BT that your computer has been dialling these numbers nor are they the ones which have profited from your misfortune.Having said that I do feel the phone companies should be doing more to track down the numbers being used by these rogue diallers and prosecuting those responsible.

The best defence against a rogue dialler is to take matters in to your own hands rather than pretending the problem doesn’t exist and then expecting your phone company to bail you out if you are affected and luckily the steps you need to take are minimal:

First off ensure that your anti-virus software is up to date and your firewall is turned on – I won’t dwell too much on this point as I have covered anti-virus programs and firewalls many times in the past.If you missed any of these articles head to the online archive at www.computerarticles.co.uk to get hold of a copy.Performing a Windows update would also not go amiss at this point but you are all of course doing this on a regular basis anyway, aren’t you?Again, if you’re unsure of how to do a Windows update head to www.computerarticles.co.uk to download instructions.

The security settings for your browser should be left at least at the default level however if you have never changed these to a lower level then there should be no reason to worry.Should you wish to check your security settings then go to ‘Tools’ and ‘Internet Options’ in Internet Explorer however I recommend that you don’t set the security levels to maximum otherwise your browsing experience will be compromised by constant censorship.

Those of you who have no need to call premium rate numbers should consider asking their phone company if they can place a call bar on your line to prevent access to premium and international numbers.Do remember that such a call bar will prevent you from making legitimate calls to these types of numbers but I’m sure there are plenty of people who will be happy to live with this.

The scale of the problem has prompted BT to release a piece of software designed to protect your dial up settings to make it difficult for these malicious problems to make the alterations they require.This software is completely free of charge, takes very little time to download and is available from www.bt.com/btprivacyonline.If you install the program on your machine it will start when you first load Windows and will then monitor your dial up connection to alert you if it attempts to dial a restricted number.I would consider this a worthwhile download for most users.

That’s it for this week; take a few minutes out now to protect yourself and avoid the embarrassment of having to explain to BT next month why you can’t afford to pay that £500 bill that you’ve just received in the post!

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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