/ Technology

How do cold callers know so much about you?

Private sign

Have you ever had a call from a company offering you their services on the back of some personal information they’ve managed to get hold of? It may seem eerie, but did you stop and wonder who passed your details on?

Ok, so it’s dinner time and I’m sorting out the kids when the youngest hands me the phone: ‘Mrs Driscoll? I’m sorry to hear about your accident. I’m calling to ask if you want to make a claim?’

For a moment I tried to recall my accident, but no, I hadn’t had one so I explained this and he hung up.

I didn’t think much about it until I received a text message a few days later. Again it was sympathetic about my recent accident and asked whether I wanted to claim. This was followed by an answer phone message – exactly the same thing, all of them talking place over the last three weeks.

The story unravels

It wasn’t until I heard Paul Lewis’ Moneybox programme on the radio last weekend that I realised what might have happened. The programme was covering the issue of garages passing on details of people who were making claims on their car insurance.

The programme reported that sometimes details were being passed on to other companies so they could contact the person in the hope of convincing them to hire a car or choose their legal services etc.

I realised that all of my messages had followed a phone call to my car insurance company. I need to have a new windscreen after a small stone cracked the glass. I also spoke to the glass company that was going to install the new windscreen and dutifully passed on my home and mobile number so that they could contact me if they couldn’t turn up (they didn’t turn up – and, no phone call!).

Don’t pass my details on

So did someone pass on my details to a legal company which was taking a punt that I had an injury after a car accident? I can’t believe that it was a coincidence….

Has this ever happened to you? We’re very interested to keep track on how our data is being passed around, so tell us about your experiences below. And next time you get one of these calls ask where they got your details from. Then you can check whether you actually gave permission for the company to hand over your name and phone number in the first place.


I am fed up of these calls. Yes I had an accident in April 2015 but I was not harmed so why should I claim? I have had various males (aren’t I a lucky girl) all with scouse accents call me daily for the last 8 weeks. The best one just said “I cant even read the f*****g screen when I answered and then hung up. Then there was “Craig” who was a Team Leader and got quite aggressive when I said I didn’t want to put in a false claim and would rather remain an honest citizen. He then told me I wasn’t an honest citizen as I lie about things like Father Christmas & the Tooth Fairy to my children.
I have also been told that the only way to stop these calls is to actually make a claim. So I thought OK then lets just get on with it. One caller got aggressive and hung up when I wouldn’t confirm my DOB. Another hung up when I stated AGAIN that I wasn’t hurt.
Cant wait to see what todays call involves.
Oh and I am listed with the TPS but when I inform them of that they say my number isn’t listed and a check is made before a call is made.

Ppi kept caalling me today and wanted to come and see me at my home address told them not coming out and to stop calling .honestly i really dont know how they get my full name and address i have blocked PPI number loads of times and they manage to call on my home phone this has to stop this nusiance calls

Gemma it is illegal in Britain to make unsolicited sales phone calls to private individuals , if you have Caller ID on your phone and the number is a listed one in this country or the company is based in this country then it can be stopped (or should be ) by calling the Telephone Preference Service to add your name to their list . Having said that they have proved to be entirely useless ij my case and 1000,s of others and I had to buy a Call-Blocker . Which has a website you can fill in your details on to report it. : http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/ some here think highly of the DMA -sorry I am not among them I think its only an agency trying to off-set the blame aimed at Big businesses and I seemingly am not alone even newspapers think the same. To me its a type of business “protection ” organisation .

Gemma – You might like to check out the Information Commissioner’s Office. They are the enforcing authority.

Just had yet another spoof number show up on my phone, they are very crafty and put one’s local digits first to lull you into thinking it is a local caller. The non-event happened four years ago and yet the calls still keep coming, even one from as far away as Germany, he was a bit startled to learn that he had been hoodwinked into purchasing an out of date list. The lot from the Midlands are the persistant nuisance callers citing data protection which in fact they are the ones contravening the act in many respects! I have a page of nuisance callers numbers but as stated above they cannot be traced to block as spoofs !

I have just given my details to a PPI claims company over the phone. I am having second thoughts about using them as I understand that I can do it myself. The company are going to send paperwork through the post. Does the fact that I have given my details over the phone mean I have entered into a legally binding contract? If I just tear the paperwork up when it comes, will that be the end of it?

I think it would be better to send the paperwork back to the company with a note to say that you do not wish to use their services. You are entitled to a cooling-off period but act immediately. Failure to respond, or to ignore the approach, might be taken as acquiescence; legally it would not stand up but it’s an argument you don’t need to have.

When returning the paperwork it’s best to get proof of posting from a Post Office.

I have just received a all from a company telling me I have a claim for PPI, they knew my name and address as well as my home phone number. I told the woman in no uncertain terms that if I thought I had a claim I would have made it myself and as I had only lived here 6 months how did they know my address and phone number, she wouldnt reply just kept on about them claiming PPI for me. I checked the number on the Who Called Me webpage and surprise surprise it came up as a harassing number, so it is blocked. I get a lot of calls from charities. I have never given my number to any charity as I know they pass it on plus I have told the council to ensure my details are kept private. What more can we do?

Josephine- its a long list but somebody has to do it. Overshare your number =contest entry-warranty registration- signup for an online service -what you include con your social network-loyalty points on your favourite store-food delivery service-even using two-step authentication still leaves you open -anywhere you are entering your number on a form Next =you accept terms+conditions without reading the small print as ell as reporting things to the government and then we have my favourite topic Big Data (gathering ) both by all the big commercial players and HMG+ US government , computers crawl the web and look at billions of data points in a blink of an eye they can get everything you like /get/ tweet. They can mine census data on how much you paid for your house and whether you had trouble paying it . I have a US website that will provide me with all this data , but obviously I wont be posting it. Your right about charities dont give them info. Josephine I have so much data on this its embarrassing and I am sure some people would take offense if I gave out more info , so as I want a , well, comparatively quiet life I will stop there but I do have the URL,s of places where I can get personal info. Now think on — if I as a nobody can get it how much more massive conglomerates (Google/Amazon / you name it) and government departments can get it. Fact there is no longer any privacy in this life due entirely to the internet. Why do you think I posted my real name years ago to much criticism but now -2017 proved its a waste of time not to ? They got fed up me not clicking on their emails nor allowing -HTLM5 to gather email data that the deluge of emails dropped over the years. Dont think using a “nom-de-plume ” is going to hide your name from anybody that can hack nor any of the commercial big players –its a waste of time . I just tried the US website that tells you everything about everybody -worldwide —and it works , no I certainly wont be posting it.

Why did you listen ? just put the phone down and leave the talking to no one

Rosie Johnson says:
29 June 2020

I have just posted my car for sale on Gumtree. I then recieved 4 calls in quick succession saying that my compensation was pending. They had my registration and obviously my phone number. When I asked where they had got my number and reg from they said the National Service Department. I cant see that this exists. When I said this the guy told me to f**k off!! I am very concerned that I have just paid to have an ad on Gumtree and my infomation is being used like this!

Rosie – This is the first time I have heard of a scam attempt like this, presumably using inside information hacked or leaked from Gumtree. I wonder whether there are many more such cases.

You don’t know what other information they might have. You might like to check with your bank to see if there have been any attempts to access your account(s).

There is no justification for expletives however desperate the situation for the scammers.

Very unpleasant.

Rosie, was your car reg visible in your advert?