PSA bans two companies from market for a total of ten years

3 December 2019

- Umbrella Support fined £200,000 and banned from the market for five years
- Company tricked consumers into calling HMPO via an 09 numbers at £1.50/minute when seeking assistance for a passport application
- Madlenka banned for five years having previously been fined £250,000 for operating a misleading directory enquiry service

The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) has banned both Madlenka and Umbrella Support from the phone-paid services market for five years.

Umbrella Support advertised assistance for consumer passport applications but actually connected callers  directly to HMPO via an 09 number. The provider advertised assistance for passport applications via an 0203 number but once dialled callers were told that the “number is no longer in use” and were advised to call an 09 number. Rather than providing the advertised assistance, the number connected the consumer to the freephone HMPO customer service line. The cost of calling the number was £1.50 on connection and £1.50/min thereafter.

Madlenka has been banned from the market for failing to pay it’s fine and comply with other sanctions. The provider placed promotions online directing consumers who were looking for helplines for companies including the AA, RAC and Sky to call an 0345-number, operated by the company. Calls made to these numbers between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday connected consumers to the desired companies’ helplines. However, calls made out of hours or on weekends directed consumers to call the expensive Directory Enquiries line.