Premium rate regulator ICSTIS has urged network operators to be on the alert for customers seeking to operate premium rate related parcel delivery services, in the wake of a pre-Christmas scam that put members of the public out of pocket.

Trading Standards Offices around the UK are investigating the fraud, which involved a mailshot that targeted thousands of UK households. This took the form of a ‘delivery card’, asking recipients to call a premium rate number to rearrange the delivery of a parcel.

As the misleading message was sent at a time when recipients were likely to be expecting parcels through the post, many took the bait – only to find themselves with an expensive telephone bill, but no parcel.

The regulator confirmed today that it had taken action to terminate existing services and to freeze revenue payments in four cases.

However, ICSTIS expressed concern that it had received calls from networks with “clients” wishing to operate other “services” of this kind.

“We have advised strongly against this and I [sic] want to put all networks on notice that this sort of activity is going to be seen as seriously misleading if not fraudulent and dealt with accordingly,” said the watchdog, in a statement.

ICSTIS urged network operators to do all they could to satisfy themselves that their clients were not looking to operate such services, suggesting that if in doubt, they continually check promotional material and monitor numbers as soon as they are set up.

The scam is being referred to the police, the Office of Fair Trading and relevant Trading Standards departments.