One of the most invidious scams targeting internet users is rogue diallers.
These nasty bits of software are embedded onto people's hard drives, then change the legitimate internet dialup settings and re-route internet access through premium phone lines.
The resulting bills can be enormous as one user, Mrs Noble, found out to her great cost.
"I was attempting to find some cheap flights on the internet so I could visit my parents in Spain and somebody told me about a new airline called BMI Baby," she told me.
"I mistyped, putting in bmibabes, and you can guess what appeared on my screen. I was shocked and got rid of it straight away, or so I thought.
"But when we switched on the computer the next time we had an icon called 'Adult Chat' and, no matter how many times I put the icon into the recycle bin, it kept coming back.
"Then I received a phone bill from BT a little while later for £385."
The software bypassed Mrs Noble's normal dialup setting and connected to a premium-rate line costing £1.50 per minute.
Although Mrs Noble protested to BT that she had not signed up for this service and had tried to remove it, BT effectively said that it was not its concern and that Mrs Noble had to pay.
I contacted the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS), which regulates the content and promotion of premium rate telephone services.
The organisation handles hundreds of these cases and has stringent regulations that must be adhered to.
A company offering premium rate services must make its terms and conditions and the price of the calls clear from the start.
Unless someone signs up for the service, a company is not allowed to self-activate any re-routing software on a person's computer.
In addition, the calls are limited to 20 minutes at a time and a large clock showing the time spent online with the service must be prominently displayed on the computer screen. Failure to comply with all these regulations is illegal.
The company that invaded Mrs Noble's computer had complied with none of these rules.
I supplied ICSTIS with the premium rate phone number that appeared on Mrs Noble's bill, 0909 965 0680, so that it could track down the company responsible.
Within a day, ICSTIS told me that it was well aware of the company involved in this scam, NiteLine Media LLC.
Although too late for Mrs Noble, the watchdog had shut down the phone lines run by the company about six weeks ago and levied a fine of £50,000.
But how could Mrs Noble get her money back? NiteLine is based in New York. BT was not going to write this bill off as a bad debt, although a spokesman told me that it reviewed such incidents on a case-by-case basis.
Mrs Noble might be able to thrash out an agreement where she pays the bill in monthly instalments.
Difficult though it is, the only way for Mrs Noble to recoup her losses, according to ICSTIS, is to write to Mr Ron Tan at NiteLine Media LLC, 90 William Street, Suite 1501, NY, NY, 10038 demanding a full refund.
"We know NiteLine has already refunded people and Mrs Noble is likely to be lucky," said a representative at ICSTIS.
Unfortunately this is the only redress for Mrs Noble. Anyone else who has suffered similar problems with other companies, should contact ICSTIS immediately on 0207 7490 74 74.
Meanwhile, if your computer had been hijacked by one of these diallers, disconnect it from the internet. Then delete the dialler. Detailed instructions on how to do this are given on page xx of this issue.
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