Pet-lovers in Gedling borough are being warned about a number of rogue websites set-up to promote a fake premium number which they claim belongs to the RSPCA.
Anyone calling the premium rate 0844 numbers wanting to report incidents of animal cruelty will quickly rack up a heavy phone bill.
The RSPCA said when a member of the public dials the fake number they’ll be charged a premium rate and are then diverted to their National Control Centre. This means the caller may not be immediately aware of the scam.
The charity conducted a search on Google and found eight different scam sites with the incorrect 0844 premium rate numbers in the first 10 pages of the popular search engine.
Dave Allen, the RSPCA’s head of education and advice, said: “The amount of sites out there advertising incorrect contact numbers for our charity is very worrying.
“We’re urging people to watch out for websites with fake numbers and information that doesn’t sound quite right. Some of the sites can be quite convincing with unauthorised feeds from our official Twitter and Facebook page which makes them look all the more real”.
“Unfortunately it can be difficult to get these sites shut down, but we’ve been trying to solve this issue by reporting the problem to Google so that the sites aren’t ranked highly in searches. We’ve also lodged a complaint to the UK’s communications regulator OFCOM and now we’re trying to raise awareness of this scam with the general public.”
“Not only can these numbers leave people with a hefty phone bill, but it also means members of the public may be put off contacting us when an animal is in desperate need of care.”
If you need to report cruelty, or a sick or injured animal, contact the RSPCA’S 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.