It is widely thought that if you receive unsolicited goods which are addressed to you, followed by a demand for payment for the goods, you are required to return the goods or make them available to be collected. This is not the case. The law was changed from 1 November 2000. Prior to that time, you were required to give notice to the sender, requiring them to collect the goods within 30 days, or otherwise to wait for 6 months, before being able to treat the goods as your own property. As the law stands now, you have no obligation to return unsolicited items or to pay for them and can treat them as your property on receipt. Under the Unconditional Goods and Services Act 1971, as amended, it is an offence for anyone to send unsolicited goods and then to demand payment for them, or to demand payment for an unsolicited entry in a trade directory.
If you receive goods you did not order, followed by a demand for payment for them, you should consider reporting the sender to your local Trading Standards Officer. If the supplier persists in demanding payment, a solicitor’s letter often proves very effective.
Also commonplace are scams in which the consumer is told by telephone, e-mail or through the post that they have won a large prize or holiday. However, collecting the prize either involves sending a payment or making a phone call which turns out to be to a premium-rate number costing many pounds per minute. A similar scam involves sending of faxes and allowing you to fax back to stop them from sending more. In this case, the receiving fax is very slow and the call is charged at premium rates.