Director of company behind passport call-connection service banned from market for five years

1 February 2021

Company had previously been fined and banned after charging people for connection to HM Passport Office.

Richard Howard was the director of Premier Ventures Ltd, registered on the PSA database as Umbrella Support Limited and Raptor Telecom. This company advertised assistance for passport applications, but was actually a call-connection service that connected callers to HM Passport Office via a premium rate number. Calling this number cost £1.50 for connection and a further £1.50 plus access charges for each additional minute. 

In November 2019, the PSA Tribunal found Premier Ventures Ltd had committed seven breaches of regulation, including around fairness and transparency. The Tribunal issued a fine of £200,000 and banned the company from the market for five years. 

Now, the Tribunal found that Howard himself had been knowingly involved in a series of breaches of the PSA’s Code of Practice, noting that evidence “clearly demonstrated” that Howard had been made aware that the service was not compliant with regulation. The Tribunal therefore banned Howard from the phone-paid services market for five years.

Read the Tribunal’s decision in full here.