Circulating message warns that a card from PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) informing householders about a package delivery is actually a scam designed to trick them into making a premium rate phone call that will cost £315.
The warning was more or less true in 2005, but the scam was shut down many years ago. The scam is not reoccurring in 2018. And, even when the scam was operating, victims were not instantly charged £315 as claimed. Reposting this hopelessly outdated and misleading warning will not help anybody.
For more information, see the Crime Stoppers website:
This email warning has been circulating since the end of 2005. Recent submissions indicate that the warning is once again rapidly gaining momentum. The information in the original 2006 version of the message was mostly factual. However, the particular scam described in the message was shut down at the end of 2005 and the information is no longer relevant. The continued forwarding of this warning to others is now utterly pointless and counterproductive.
Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) the UK’s regulatory body for all premium rate charged telecommunications services, issued a statement denying any reoccurrence of the scam in 2007 and then again in 2009. PSA was previously named “PhonepayPlus”-
In response to renewed circulation of the warning in 2010 and 2011, PhonepayPlus again republished the statement, noting:
Postal scam chain email 2011 – PhonepayPlus’ statement
19 October 2011
PhonepayPlus, the phone-paid services regulator, is aware that a chain e-mail about an alleged postal scam is being circulated on the internet. The email refers to the Royal Mail, Trading Standards and ICSTIS (PhonepayPlus’ former name).
PhonepayPlus appreciates that recipients of the email may want to find out more information about the alleged scam and has therefore issued the following statement:
- The chain email refers to a service (operating on 0906 6611911) that was shut down by PhonepayPlus (then ICSTIS) in December 2005.
- PhonepayPlus subsequently fined the company that was operating the service, Studio Telecom (based in Belize), £10,000.
- The service is NO LONGER running and has NOT been running since December 2005.
- You do NOT need to contact PhonepayPlus, or the Royal Mail, about this service as it was stopped almost four years ago.
- If you receive a copy of the email warning you about the alleged scam, please do NOT forward it to others. Instead, please forward this statement from PhonepayPlus.
- If you receive a delivery card through your letterbox which you do not believe is genuine and which asks you to dial a premium rate number, you can contact PhonepayPlus on 0800 500 212 (Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm) for further guidance.
- Please go to http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/output/FAQ.aspx for useful information about how to recognise phone-paid services and understand what they cost, and some simple tips to help you enjoy using services with confidence.
- For more detailed information about PhonepayPlus’ work, please visit www.phonepayplus.org.uk.
There is also no current warning about this particular scam on either the Trading Standards website or the Royal Mail website.
In fact, as noted above, the phone numbers used in the scam were switched off by ICSTIS in December 2005 and Studio Telecom, the company responsible, was investigated and subsequently fined.
When the scam was operating around December 2005, many UK householders reported receiving a card, ostensibly from a package delivery business named “Parcel Delivery Services” or “PDS”. The card advised recipients to phone a number provided in order to arrange delivery of a package, claimed to be a digital camera.
However, the contact number was a premium rate line that was charged at £1.50 per minute. A disclaimer in very small print on the bottom of the card informed recipients that the contact number would be charged at a premium rate. Although the cards claimed to originate from Wrexham in the UK, the company responsible for this scam was actually based in Belize, Central America.
At the time the scam was operating, those who called the number were asked to answer a number of market research questions before being given a “security confirmation code” to claim their camera. Callers were therefore kept on the line for some time and charged at a rate of £1.50 per minute. Not surprisingly, none of those who lodged complaints about the scam ever received their digital camera.
Although the scam outlined in the message was true, the claim that an immediate £15 fee was charged was unfounded. The most recent version inflates this non-existent fee to an exorbitant £315.
One version of the “warning” claimed that more information about the scam can be found on the Crimestoppers website and included a link that supposedly leads to this information.
However, clicking the link did not open any information about the scam. Moreover, Crimestoppers published a statement denouncing the message as a hoax. The statement notes:
Postal scam email from Parcel Delivery Service
Crimestoppers has recently received a number of enquiries regarding a chain email warning people about a postal scam that could leave you £315 out of pocket.
This email is a hoax and the information contained in it is not true. If you receive this information please ignore it.
Thus, sending on the hopelessly outdated and increasingly inaccurate “warning” will do no good whatsoever.
Nevertheless, while this particular scam has long since been terminated, consumers should remain vigilant. Premium rate phone fraud is not uncommon. People should watch for similar scams that attempt to trick them into making expensive, premium rate phone calls. Service providers and premium rate phone regulators such as PhonepayPlus will generally provide information to consumers about premium rate scams.
But. a significant problem with emailed warnings such as this is that they often continue to circulate for months or even years after the described threat has disappeared. They also tend to mutate as they travel, further diffusing the truth and relevance of the information they contain.
Before forwarding scam warnings, recipients should always check that the warning is genuine, accurate and up-to-date. False or outdated warning emails such as this one do nothing more than spread misinformation.