Ofcom exists to further the interests of citizens and consumers through a regulatory regime which, where appropriate, encourages competition. Effective competition delivers choice and lower prices to consumers as well as opportunities for new services and providers. However, consumers may need protection from inappropriate behaviour by certain providers that may undermine confidence in the market as well as causing consumer detriment.
One such example is in relation to the regulation of Premium Rate Services (‘PRS’). PRS offer consumers with some form of content, product or service via fixed or mobile telecoms lines, and are charged to users via their telephone bills. While the great majority of PRS are welcomed by consumers and generate considerable consumer benefits, these benefits can be obscured by problems involving the use of PRS to mislead or even defraud consumers. In addition, inappropriately marketed PRS may give rise to a risk of consumers running up high phone bills without being aware of the charges they are incurring.
This statement sets out Ofcom’s approval under section 121 of the Communications Act 2003 (‘the Act’) of the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (‘ICSTIS’) Code of Practice (11th Edition) (‘the draft Code’).