A FAMILY-run business says it has ‘nowhere left to turn’ after hackers rigged its telephone system to call premium rate phone numbers — racking up a bill of nearly £6,000.

Staff at Rimmers Music Ltd, which has a shop in Blackburn, were ‘horrified’ to receive the £5,677 bill and have become embroiled in a row with their telephone suppliers over payment.

Company secretary Cathy Tate said the firm’s normal call spend was about £900 per month. The calls were made while no one was in the office, so ‘must be fraudulent’, she said.

“We reported it to the police, but we were told there was very little likelihood of them catching anyone so they wouldn’t be able to investigate”, she added.

“Peach Telecom, our supplier, have said we’ve got to pay this bill. We are disappointed because we’ve been with them a long time. We are completely desperate now and don’t know where to turn.”

Phil McNally, who works at Rimmers’ Darwen Street store, one of seven in the North West, said: “It’s huge for us because we are only a small firm. We don’t have £6,000 wafting around. It’s difficult enough in retail as it is. It’s going to be very very difficult for us if we have to pay the bill.”

Peach Telecom said it was unable to comment due to data protection laws. Crimes of this type are investigated by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which is part of City of London Police, but no one was available for comment yesterday.

However Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, said it recently issued a warning to businesses about scams in which criminals break into phone lines remotely, before racking up huge bills by calling international and premium rate numbers. The warning stated that the targeted business was ‘solely responsible’ for fraud-ulent charges.