A graphic that has circulated online for several years warns of a scam involving Parcel Delivery Service (PDS) which places a postcard on your door which asks you to call a number to claim a package. When you call that number, the graphic claims, your phone bill will be charged an exorbitant rate. Is this rumor true?
It happened in the UK in 2005, but is no longer a problem.
Let’s take a look at the rumor itself. The graphic circulating reads:
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 £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:
It is true that in 2005, some UK residents received cards as described in warning above. The cards were a bait-and-switch marketing scheme. While customers believed they had a package waiting for them, it was really just an attempt to keep them on the line by asking market research questions, at a charge of £1.50 per minute. This came with the promise of a gift at the end of the call. Many of the details contained in the warning were true at that time, such as the techniques used, and the company’s country of origin (Belize). We could find no evidence regarding the £315 charge as claimed, and in fact at £1.50 per minute, it’s unlikely that anyone was was actually charged this amount.
After complaints of this scam surfaced, the organization responsible was barred from access to such phone services for 12 months and fined £20,000.
These “09” numbers are similar to 900 numbers in the U.S., or premium rate lines.
It’s always a good idea be aware of these “premium access” prefixes. You can find the UK list here. In the US, premium access phone numbers are restricted to the 900 prefix, although these have waned considerably in recent years. Most modern scammers have abandoned 900 and 09 numbers in favor of “premium” SMS (text messaging) services. There have also been instances of international scammers calling from country codes which resemble U.S. area codes, and redirecting call-backs to premium hotlines. See more info on that “one ring scam.”
We have seen the graphic above circulate every November for the past several years, including an expected increase in sharing in 2015.
The PDS Postal scam warning is outdated. It occurred back in 2005 and is no longer considered a problem.
Updated November 11, 2015
Originally published November 2012