Phone-paid Services Authority opens consultation on revised Special conditions for ICSS

The PSA has opened a consultation on revised Special conditions for ICSS, which are third-party services that connect or signpost callers to popular helplines via a premium-rate number.

The PSA says that the proposals are intended to improve the information about these services that is given to consumers, both in search results and on service websites, to make it clearer that they are third parties and that calls via an ICSS may be more expensive than calling the desired number directly.

The proposed Special conditions include:

  • services must not promote using URLs which mislead the consumer into believing the ICSS website is associated with the organisation they are seeking;
  • all promotional material must be distinct in appearance from that of the organisation being sought by the consumer;
  • consumers must clearly be informed of extra costs for onward connection, and have the option to refuse onward connection if it incurs extra costs;
  • a requirement that marketing for the service, including search engine results, include an accurate description of the true nature of the service; and
  • a requirement that the name of the third-party organisation and information making it clear that they are a third party should appear in the top left corner of a web page.

These proposals follow changes in January 2019 to extend the scope of Ofcom’s Premium Rate Service Condition to include all ICSS within the definition of controlled premium rate services. This extended PSA regulation to all ICSS irrespective of the number range they are operating on. This consultation proposes that the PSA’s Special conditions for ICSS should apply to all ICSS regardless of number range.

The consultation is open until 10 June 2019. To access the consultation, click here.