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PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) Premium Rate Scam Warning

Outline
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 will cost £315.

PDS Phone Scam Warning

© Depositphotos.com/ptnphoto



Brief Analysis
The warning was more or less true several years back, but the scam was shut down in late 2005. The scam is not reoccurring in 2013.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 Reposting this hopelessly outdated and misleading warning will not help anybody.

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Example: (Collected on Facebook, November 2013)
PDS Phone Scam Hoax

Example: (Collected on Facebook, September 2013)
WARNING!! There is a scam happening, if you get a card through your door from a company called PDS saying a parcel could not be delivered and to phone the number on the card DO NOT phone it, the minute it connects you will be charged £315!!!! Please share this status to warn others! Than

Example:(Collected, November 2012)
2012 version circulating on Facebook:
Facebook Picture Version

Example:(Submitted, October 2011)
Subject: 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 Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact the m on 0906 6611911 (a Premium rate number).



If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £315 for the phone call.

If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 020 7239 6655.
For more information, see the Crime Stoppers website:
http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/crime-prevention/helping-prevent-crime/scams/postal-delivery-scam


Example:(Submitted, October 2007)
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 (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.


Detailed Analysis


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.

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’ statement
17/11/2010

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 warnings 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 lead to this information. However, clicking the link did not open any infromation 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 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, accurate and up-to-date. False or outdated warning emails such as this one do nothing more than spread misinformation.

The 2006 version of the chain email:
Subject: Fwd: Royal Mail postal scam

FYI
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


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Last updated: November 1, 2013
First published: April 27, 2006
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
PhonepayPlus
Postal scam chain email – PhonepayPlus’ statement - 2009
Postal scam chain email – PhonepayPlus’ statement - 2010
Trading Standards Central
Royal Mail
Postal scam email from Parcel Delivery Service