Like countless others, my recent phone bill had charges entered for international calls (UK). This was on my second line for my son's computer which has long distance/international calls blocked. The charges were billed by ZPDI (Zero Plus Dialing). I called my phone company and they said it was likely a modem hijack which can work its way round a long distance block.
When I called ZPDI, I was passed onto One Call Communications and the reps response was pretty much "get lost". (I wonder how many people give up at this stage?) Fortunately, I found this website and read other peoples' experiences. I am grateful to someone from Elllsinore, Missouri, who, on September 9, recommended asking for the company's Form 499A Filer ID and Registration Numbers so a complaint could be filed with the FCC because of fraud.
When I called One Call and uttered the magic words I was put through to a supervisor who agreed to refund the charges and gave me a confirmation number for my phone company. However, I am not holding my breath until I see the credit come through and I don't discount the fact I may get billed directly by these vermin.
The reasons these "third party clearinghouses" bill through the local phone company are: only the local phone company has all the relevant billing information. The likes of ZPDI, One Call only have the originating phone number. Also, the law says they can - if the phone company does it for one company they must to do it for all and these companies often have contracts with phone companies.
I call the UK frequently and am researching the numbers that appeared on my bill. 44 1277 70100 is located in Brentwood. When you call it you get a busy signal. 44 20 733 50525 is located in London and is a fax number. All 20 7335 lines were allocated to Cable & Wireless in 1999. Still digging.
If you investigate the various phone scams that have occurred since deregulation in the mid-1980s, it's funny how the same cast of characters keep appearing and it's all very incestuous.
In 1988, US Long Distance acquired ZPDI and them USLD changed it's name to Billing Concepts Corp (BCC). Within the transactional processing group of BCC was Billing Concepts Inc, USBI, ZPDI, ESBI& Avery Comms.
October 2000, BCC sold the BCI group to Platinum Equity Holdings who then sold them to the current owners ABRY Partners, a private equty fund based in Boston. In September of this year, Billing Concepts (www.billingconcepts.com) announced the acquisition of ACI Billing Services (originally a combination of HBS and OAN). A company that operates a different form of scam. A superficial look at ACI shows its dba OAN Services and USA Wireless.
Over to OCMC Inc. (www.ocld.com) Formed by management of One Call Internet who, in 2002, acquired the assets of One Call Internet and, incidentally, ran into an FCC buzzsaw about the way it handled the change of control. OCMC does business under a number of names, One Call Long Distance and, most notoriously, Opticom (subject to an FCC fine of $5.12m 2002) and One Call Communications.