When using the service, consumers simply input an access code before the number they wish to dial and the cost of the call – starting from 1p per minute – is then added to their monthly phone bill.
Firstnumber.co.uk spokesperson Andy Steele hopes the service will provide callers with more options that don't involve parting with sensitive, personal information at a time when credit card fraud is on the rise.
“Online credit card fraud in the UK rose by 55% in 2009 alone. Despite this startling statistic, consumers - particularly those of us who shop online – are still parting with personal data and financial details in potentially unsecured environments.
“The easiest way to wipe out fraud is to eliminate credit card use altogether which is why Firstnumber's service doesn't require an account to be set up, upfront payment or personal details of any sort.”
Despite the introduction of chip and PIN in 2006, last year saw banks and consumers fork out a record £39 million to cover the costs of online banking fraud.
Although banks have done their bit to keep up to speed with the latest security technologies, 90 per cent of online credit card related fraud is linked to computer owners entering their details on unsecured home computers.
'Phishing scams' – whereby consumers are lured into handing over personal information – also rose to 26,000 over the course of 2009.
Andy Steele believes that a combination of better consumer awareness and understanding from retailers could be the key to stamping out online credit card fraud:
“Consumers are responsible for giving out their details and need to be more selective about where and when passing on that kind of information is appropriate or if in fact it's really necessary at all.
“At the same time, retailers could do more to provide alternative methods of payment. Firstnumber is lucky to work closely with landline and mobile providers to ensure that consumers simply hop onto www.firstnumber.co.uk, pick up the required access code and get on with making their call, which – ultimately – is the most important thing.”
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