/ Home & Energy

Scam watch: have you been cold called by a boiler scam?


Be warned, cold calls flogging new boilers are on the rise. But as John suspected these are likely to be a scam.

John told us: ‘I’ve received cold calls from a range of numbers. The calls consist only of a recorded male voice telling me about new boiler regulations in Europe. It says that every household in my local area must install a new A-rated boiler by the end of 2016.

‘I am confident that existing non-A-rated domestic boilers will continue to be legitimate until they reach the end of their economically serviceable lives – and that these calls are a potential scam. I shudder to think what sales pitch some naive consumer might receive if they were to press the relevant button to follow up the call.’

Our advice on suspicious calls

Unfortunately, it appears there’s been an increase in cold callers trying to convince people they need a new boiler since the introduction of the Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive in September 2015.

As part of this directive, boilers and other electrical products must meet new minimum energy efficiency requirements in order to be sold in Europe.

However, existing products aren’t affected by these regulations, so we’d imagine you’re correct to assume this is a ploy to trick you out of money. You should report these calls to the police, trading standards and Action Fraud. Don’t forget that you can also report the call to us too.

Never buy anything as a result of unsolicited contact. However, if a sale is agreed over the phone, then the Consumer Contracts Regulations apply and you have 14 days to cancel penalty-free.

Have you been nuisance called about an A-rated boiler?

[UPDATE 17 MARCH 2016] – A Scottish boiler replacement company has been fined £180,000 for making millions of automated nuisance calls. Glasgow-based FEP Heatcare Ltd made 2,692,217 unwanted automated calls between April and July 2015.

And despite being warned to stop making illegal calls by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), FEP started to do so again by bombarding people with recorded messages. The ICO traced these calls to FEP Heatcare even though the calls didn’t identify a caller.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘The ICO is right to hit companies with hefty fines for bombarding people with nuisance calls, especially when they fail to listen to previous warnings.’


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The other day, I had 5 calls telling me that since I was not connected to the gas main, I was entitled to a free HE boiler. I was asked to press 2 on my keypad to speak to an “advisor”. The caller’s number was “Withheld” and I strongly suspected a scam, so I deleted the message. As a matter of principle, I never press the key that such callers give.

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I have had up to 4 to 5 calls a day from a company or companies offering a new boiler for people on benefits this has got to stop modern technology can do this as customers we should demand that our phone providers do so at no extra charge cold calling should be stopped’.

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After the 7th one of these today (and numerous over the last few months) I finally succumbed and against my better judgement ‘pressed 9 to opt out’. Ten minutes later another identical call. I have tried logging the numbers but none of the actually exist if you try to call them back. I did start reporting them but lost the will – they come from a different number each time. And yes, I am on TPS.

Tobydog says:
15 February 2017

I am getting the same calls, one day I had five identical calls in a period of two hours. I started reporting them but they are using different random numbers each time. I no longer answer any number I do not know but this is like being under siege in my own home. Surely somebody can do something about these, they are far worst than the ‘something wrong with my computer’ calls, at least you can swear at them!

I’m having exactly the same experience. The real caller id is masked by a fake number. I’ve complained repeatedly to no avail.

I came back from holiday and my and my messaging server was full of the boiler messages, on one date there were 5. I did not reply

I wonder how many can distinguish between a boiler scam and a boiler room scam.

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Not everyone with stocks and shares is well-off. Many people bought them at a time when yields from other savings and investments were on the decline, thinking the stock market would be more buoyant. Their income is often a pittance, some of the companies have liquidated or gone into administration leaving the shareholders with nothing, and capital values have gone down rather than appreciated so they would make a loss if they sold them. The problem is that the boiler-room scammers prey on people who are desperate to restore the value of their life savings and earn some interest on which to supplement their meagre pensions. Any scam, whoever it targets, is reprehensible. I would say that lures based on money pip a new boiler every time.

if someone has surplus money that they can afford to gamble on stock and shares, they are indeed “well off”.

Many people invest their money to provide growth or an income – whether directly, through ISA’s perhaps, or indirectly through their pension fund forexample. Just the same as having “surplus” money in a savings account, but potentially doing a lot more good by funding industry and commerce. Or investing surplus money in a house.

Properly researched and invested funds are not a gamble in the reckless sense – long term they perform better than interest. However, those who ignore common sense and chase unrealistic gains, don’t do their research and don’t understand what they are getting into, are reckless.

JanVScam says:
12 December 2016

Had 2 of these automated boiler calls in 2 days, “if on benefits, if no gas supply, press 2 now for free boiler”. Obviously I did nothing of the sort but waited patiently till the end for an OPT out option, which never came. I’ve logged the time of the call so if phone rings again on day 3 I will not even answer. BUT I did 1471 after the 2nd call and it came up with was 01437 63883 – which looks like a UK number and the voice sounds like UK, but clearly is NOT, so do not be fooled. The telephone companies and other authorities are NOT doing enough to protect us. If these calls continue how are you supposed to stop them with no opt out?

Been getting calls on landline and mobile ( about 8 a day) mentioning benefit and boilers. If you don’t answer it , it goes to voicemail and leaves message to press 2 for advisor. All come from different numbers usually 10 figure numbers that can’t be blocked.

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miranda says:
22 December 2016

I decided to “press 2” and speak to someone, the number coming up 0162835754 which being a digit short doesn’exist. I spoke to a guy with a Geordie accent who said the reason I was being called was because someone in the household is on benefits , which they are NOT. upon which he hung up! Yet another scam aimed at the vulnerable

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And never click ‘unsubscribe’ on an email unless perhaps you have been a customer of a company or asked to receive information.

I have received 6 calls in the last couple of days about gas boilers – they seem to know we don’t have a gas boiler but not that there is no gas in our village! Once I waited and on invitation pressed 9 for no further calls but have probably just confirmed for them that the line is live. Each call comes from a different number which looks like a British phone We are registered with telephone preference. The recorded voice says it is an urgent call for those on benefits.

The Telephone Preference Service only covers live, (i.e human) marketing phone calls, not automated recordings. Automated/Recorded voice calls fall under regulation 19 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and the caller must have your permission to call you; good luck making a complaint though!

We get 4 or 5 recorded calls a day with the offer of a free replacement boiler. Each one is from a different telephone number but the numbers don’t exist as I’ve tried calling them back. I’ve reported them all to the ICO but because these are fictitious numbers that can’t be traced I suspect they will be unable to take any action.

Sue Burnand says:
9 January 2017

We are being called approximately four times a day with a recorded message about a free boiler. We know it’s a scam, but the number changes with every call, so blacklisting the number on our phone doesn’t work.

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Yep seen all above , now my phone is left on silent and I am thinking of just having a mobile . It is so annoying that BT can’t trace and block ..

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I used to receive nuisance calls on my landline, often five or six a day, but now receive about one a week – which I can cope with. In contrast, I have had only two nuisance calls on my mobile in the last few years, ignoring obvious wrong numbers like drunks calling for a taxi. I am glad that Which? and others have put in effort to help address the problem but I may have helped myself by insisting on ‘no marketing’ whenever I have a phone conversation to a company. I have found that it is necessary to do this because renewing a contract can put you back on the marketing list.

It’s no problem making outgoing calls on a mobile but I want to receive calls on the landline because there are handsets round the house, whereas the mobile is often not to hand.

There may be no legislation that allows BT to take effective action, but it would be encouraging to know that the company is pushing to change this, to help Jessica and many others. I have a feeling that their customers would be very supportive.

TonyF says:
18 May 2017

As all UK phone numbers begin with “0”, that’s going to be rather a severe filter.
Or did you mean something other than what you wrote, Duncan?

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Mark says:
23 January 2017

Been receiving over 8 calls a day for the past week about ‘people on benefits can replace their boiler’ just this morning I have 4 all from different numbers with the same recorded message.

As one person commented above the number are only 10 digits and they will obviously be virtual numbers which are being used randomly. You would think the BT or other telecommunications companies should be able to track this back to the original company as they must of bought this numbers from somewhere.

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It is indeed a sad fact that enforcement has been kicked out of the ground in the UK. I wonder if Americans get many scam calls from India.

Pete Allerhand says:
27 January 2017

We get lots of bogus calls, probably about 10 per day. Just like everyone else, we’re totally p*ssed off. We even pay BT for the “privilege” of caller display so we tend to spot most of them as they arrive but it doesn’t provide much comfort. It’s tending towards OCD, like “twitching curtains” in a suburban street. Who’s going to call next…..?

But how do the scammers pay for their calls? Surely they are using somebody’s network and surely they must have to pay, even if they get a “volume discount”. So if they’re able to make a “profit” whilst paying for the incessant calls, how the f**k does it work? There can be no doubt that the big players in telecoms and their fawning politicians must know exactly how it works and who does it. So they must have some reason for allowing us lot (the subscribers) to put up with it. Must dash, the phone’s ringing….

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I had 12 of these oil boiler calls on Friday, & 2 this morning so far & it’s only 9.38am…i’m so sick of them, i have to stop what i’m doing every 10-20 mins to go to the phone(as it might be urgent) , ive tried blocking(no use as it’s a different number every time) ive tried ignoring(doesn’t make any difference) i’ve spoke to BT & they advised me to sign the Which petition(Useless BT) i’m tempted to press 2 so that i can actually speak to one of these a******s & give them a piece of my mind, but am wary that i could be phoning India…. come on BT STOP THESE COLD CALLERS NOW!!!!!!!

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Andrew Sturmey says:
1 February 2017

Unfortunately Duncan, it seems that BT’s wonderful new Call Protect service can’t protect you against these boiler calls with their ever changing numbers. I signed up immediately, but still get the same volume of calls. BT say in their advertising that Call Protect will deal with the companies that keep varying their phone number, but unfortunately they’re lying, presumably because they want to sign up lots of new customers on long, unbreakable contracts. In some ways, BT are no better than the scammers!

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Andrew Sturmey says:
1 February 2017

Hi Duncan, I’d love to be able to block the boiler scammers, and I see from your many interesting previous posts that you know a lot more about the subject than me, but forgive me if I’m confused. These people change their number every time, using different fake dialling codes including ironically my own, 01757. How do I block them using Call Protect, paid or otherwise, without blocking legitimate calls? The only difference between the seemingly random numbers they use and legitimate calls is that the scammers’ numbers are one digit shorter than you would expect.

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Andrew Sturmey says:
1 February 2017

Thanks Duncan, some interesting points there. The problem I’ve got is that I regularly receive important calls from unknown numbers that are perfectly legitimate, and anyone who has two gormless daughters who allow their phones to run out of charge and ring up to book Dad’s Taxi Service from a friend’s phone will know where I’m coming from! I also have a Dentist wife who maybe on call. Therefore blocking all 0 numbers is really not an option. To the best of your knowledge are the numbers these boiler scammers use totally random, or do they have a limited amount, in which case I can obtain some relief by blocking every scam number that calls, up to the 100 limit allowed by BT’s Call Protect?

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Andrew Sturmey says:
2 February 2017

Duncan, I’m very grateful for your input which has provided me with far more useful information than I’ve ever been able to extract from BT. In the final analysis however it appears that BT’s new Call Protect, with its much vaunted list of blacklisted numbers and ability to block 100 more of choice, is ineffective against the boiler scammers, complaints against whom form the nub of this thread. BT should therefore own up to this (or do something about it), before making claims about its efficacy which would encourage people to switch to BT in the hope of relief from this constant bombardment. In the delusive hope that BT monitor forums such as these, I’d love to read any comments they may wish to make. But Duncan, thanks again.

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I have had automated recordings from 0128862268, 0129695733, 0193568867, 0193675758, 0199864984 so far all with the same message “oil, electric, lpg and gas. Press 2 to speak to an advisor or press 9 to be removed” I don’t press any buttons of course. All of the above numbers don’t appear to exist.

I am now getting up to 10 of these calls a day. Always new phone numbers (1 number short) so, as discussed above, almost pointless ‘blocking’ them using Call Protect.
It amazes me that they keep it up when it’s so clear that we’re never going to be interested – surely it’s not great business to really annoy people that they want to sell things to.
I understand that using these spoof numbers is illegal and this boiler scam calling has apparently been going on a long time now. I would have thought that BT would want the company/ies doing this to be brought to book. As one of the IT giants surely it’s not beyond them to find out who is responsible for thes calls and then use the legal system.

Andrew Sturmey says:
8 February 2017

Duncan states in an earlier post that BT monitor these conversations, and I have no reason to doubt his expertise. What a terrible indictment on them that they appear to have nothing to say on the matter. Presumably Which monitor these conversations too? Does Which have on opinion on BT promoting Call Protect, and presumably gaining business on the back of it, when it is defenceless against this scourge that is affecting so many people?

Blocking all 0 first digit callers is not an option. TPS is a joke. Perhaps we can launch a class action suit for damages against our landline supplier (BT) to whom we pay a monthly rental. If everyone invoices BT for time and costs against the landline rental because it is not fit for purpose, it will perhaps register.
Time to attack.

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Andrew Sturmey says:
8 February 2017

Duncan, I’ve already expressed my gratitude for the benefit of your expertise, and I maintain that position, but frankly, I’m fed up of being told what I can’t do. I’m with Neil, is there anything we CAN do, without blocking all ‘0’ numbers, which makes our landlines unfit for purpose? Do you think BT or Which will provide an input, or maintain their silence on this subject?

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Well, here’s a coincidence. Since I posted my class action suit suggestion, all my boiler scams, and apparently any other unsolicited stuff has ceased!
Thank you “Big Brother”!

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Andrew Sturmey says:
9 February 2017

Reading with great interest Duncan. But on the assumption that HMG are hardly going to spring into action if little me starts lobbying them, it seems there is nothing that can be done. It might be different if an organisation as powerful as Which took an interest, either in the actual scamming calls, or BTs promotion of the ineffective Call Protect, but it seems that Which can’t be bothered. Given that since I signed up for Call Protect, 90% of nuisance calls have still got through (almost all of them boiler scammers), I will watch BT’s advertising with interest in future. Unless they have caveats pointing out the severe limitations of their wonderful new product, I’ll report them to Trading Standards, citing the Consumer Protection against Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. But I guess they won’t give a stuff either. Thanks again Duncan for some interesting posts. If anyone has any workable solutions, or finds a Consumer Rights group who are prepared to listen and act, please post.

2 calls a day since start of 2017 –different numbers every time. Press 9 to opt out and it obviously doesn’t work so I tried 2 to speak to an “adviser” just a funny sound and cut off. Now logging every number.

fed up with these calls

strangely got worse after using a couple of the car insurance comparison websites but that could be just coincidence