Consumer protectionAgainst ping calls: Prices for calls abroad have to be announced

Today, the German Federal Network Agency stipulated that charges for calls to 56 international area codes have to be announced in the mobile network for free and prior to a signal tone. This is to protect consumers against fraudulent call attempts from abroad (“ping calls”) and associated expensive return calls. Mobile network operators and mobile service providers have to implement this by March 01, 2019.

These are the details:

  • Ping calls are characterized by a short ring followed by a missed call. The related phone number can be easily confused with a local German area code: The area code of Koblenz (0261) is similar to that of Madagascar (00261) and Rostock's area code (0381) resembles that of Serbia (00381) at a quick glance.

  • The purpose of these ping calls is to hold return callers in the line at high charges for as long as possible in order to profit from generated connection fees.

  • From now on, announced prices inform the person calling that they are about to dial a foreign number that may entail high charges after a signal tone. This announcement is envisaged for calls to countries from Africa, Eastern Europe and the Pacific region.

Jochen Homann, President of the Federal Network Agency, explained: "We protect mobile customers from the consequences of telephone harassment and put a stop to ping calls. The development of formal complaints in 2018 has shown that the price announcement requirement is an effective measure to contain waves of ping calls. Price transparency best protects consumers from hasty return calls. If misled consumers call back, they can hang up without incurring any further costs."

Source: German Federal Network Agency

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