Monday, July 12, 2004

Gya: Net users ripped off

Local internet users can end up being billed for calls to Portugal and other countries as part of an internet scam known as "modem hijacking".

The practice comes at a time when a large Canadian telephone company has restricted direct-dial access to several countries including Guyana.

From July 1, Vancouver-based Telus Corp, Canada's second largest telephone company began blocking calls to Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Nauru and Sao Tome as a result of losses through illegal calls via a method termed "modem hijacking".

This action was taken after the companies received several complaints about inflated long distance charges made after their internet modem was hijacked while they were browsing the internet.

Bills ranging from C$100 to as much as C$3,000 have been received by subscribers resulting in several complaints.

Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Ltd (GT&T), Director of Rate Making, Gene Evelyn said this will not affect its services. He said Canadian subscribers would have to go through an operator instead.

He added that GT&T as recently as last year had issued an alert to internet users about the need to protect their modems through not signing in to certain sites.

Explaining the scam, he said some programmes on the internet are designed to disconnect the user's modem and replace it with ones which place international calls mostly through pornographic sites.

Once these calls are hooked up, the customer is billed the cost for making that call although they never intended to make it.

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