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ICSTIS CUTS OFF ROGUE DIALLERS

19 October 2004


Following its decision to license all companies wanting to run premium rate dialler services, ICSTIS, the premium rate services regulator, is shutting down all such services found to be operating without its permission.


For immediate release - Tuesday 19 October 2004

Following its decision to license all companies wanting to run premium rate dialler services, ICSTIS, the premium rate services regulator, is shutting down all such services found to be operating without its permission. Any unlicensed dialler service ICSTIS finds, either through public complaints or its own in-house monitoring, will be shut down immediately under the regulator's emergency powers. In the last week, ICSTIS has barred 11 companies that were running dialler services without having obtained permission to operate. It will decide on the status of a further 33 companies later this week.

ICSTIS' clampdown follows the recent surge in complaints from members of the public claiming that their Internet dial-up connections have been diverted to premium rate numbers without their knowledge or consent. As well as introducing the licensing regime, ICSTIS has imposed strict revenue retention requirements on companies operating dialler services to help ensure that those wanting to rip people off do not get paid. UK consumers have also been ripped off by Internet dial-up connections to international direct dial numbers. ICSTIS has notified all phone networks that there are no legitimate dialler services using international numbers and has continued to advise them to cut off any such services that they find.

George Kidd, ICSTIS Director, said: "This is a further stage in our action to stamp out rogue diallers. We have only granted permission to those companies that satisfy our stringent requirements, covering key areas such as clear terms and conditions, user consent, information about how to delete diallers, and responsibility for customer refunds. Any company we find running a dialler without our permission will be cut off immediately." "But others must also play their part. Phone networks that give out premium rate numbers in the first place must not give out any numbers for dialler services unless they see evidence of a licence to operate from us. They also have a duty to carry out thorough checks on those they give numbers to and to look at the speed at which they pass money on to them. Billing phone companies have the systems to identify suspicious call patterns and should take action before their customers unknowingly run up huge bills."

ICSTIS has also published an updated factsheet explaining how premium rate access on the Internet works and how consumers can avoid potential problems. Copies can be found [LINK:/output/default.asp -> TITLE : here].

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For further information, please contact the ICSTIS Press Office: Rob Dwight Tel: 020 7940 7408 or 07973 172 735

Catherine Bell Tel: 020 7940 7464

NOTES

  • ICSTIS, the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services, is the industry-funded regulatory body for all premium rate charged telecommunications services. We regulate services in their entirety - their content, promotion and overall operation - through our Code of Practice. We investigate complaints, and have the power to fine companies and bar access to services if the Code is breached. We can also bar the individual(s) behind a company from running any other premium rate services under any company name on any telephone network for a defined period.
  • Services are advertised on either 090 dialling codes or, in the case of text services, on four or five digit short codes followed by a descriptive key word (for example, 82828 VOTE or 62626 CHAT). In some instances, such as interactive TV where viewers make 'calls' using their remote controls, the premium rate number may not be shown. In addition, we regulate all '118' directory enquiry services.
  • Services offer information and entertainment via phone, fax, PC (e-mail, Internet, bulletin board), mobile (SMS/MMS/WAP) or interactive digital TV, and currently vary in cost from 10 pence per call to £1.50 per minute. The money paid by users for services is shared between the telephone company carrying the service and the organisation providing the content. Approximately 40,000 services are in operation at any one time, generating estimated revenue of £1 billion in 2003.