An email forwarded 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 charged at £1.50 per minute.
In fact, it is not true in 2010; but it was true, but the scam was shut down in late 2005. Despite claims in the warning, the scam is not reoccurring in 2010.
Mail contents are presented below:
Subject: Postal Scam To Be Aware Of
This is a genuine scam that Royal Mail have been made aware of
Can you circulate this around especially as Xmas is fast approaching -
it has been confirmed by Royal Mail. The Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam:
A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0906 6611911 end_of_the_skype_highlighting (a premium rate number).
DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize.
If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £15 for the phone call.
If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on [number removed] or ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator) at www.icstis.org.uk
Please circulate this to avoid anyone else being ripped off.
Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Explanation:
This email warning has been circulated since the end of 2005. Recent submissions indicate that the warning is once again rapidly gaining momentum. The information in 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 pointless and counterproductive.
PhonepayPlus (previously named "ICSTIS"), the UK's regulatory body for all premium rate charged telecommunications services, issued a statement denying any reoccurence of the scam in 2007 and then again in 2009. In response to renewed circulation of the warning in late 2010, PhonepayPlus again republished the statement, noting:
Postal scam chain email – PhonepayPlus’ statementThere is also no current warnings about this particular scam on either the Trading Standards website or the Royal Mail website.
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 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0906 6611911 end_of_the_skype_highlighting) 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 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 500 212 end_of_the_skype_highlighting (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.
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 is 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 as well as the per-minute cost was unfounded.
While this particular scam has now been terminated, 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.
A real problem with emailed warning 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 and current. False or outdated warning emails such as this one do nothing more than add to the clutter in our already junk-ridden inboxes and spread misinformation.
The 2006 version of the chain email:
Subject: Fwd: Royal Mail postal scam
Can you circulate this around especially as Xmas is fast approaching - it has been confirmed by Royal Mail.
The Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam: A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Services) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on [number removed](a premium rate number).
DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize. If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £15 for the phone call. If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on [Removed] or ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator) at www.icstis.org.uk