/ 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.

devonlady says:
23 December 2014

I have better things to do with my time than waste it on these companies – get a really good whistle and keep it next to the phone. I find a huge long blast on that as soon as I establish a cold call is so relieving to my tension and stress. Strangely though i don’t think it has the same effect on the person on the other end of the call!

Malc says:
29 January 2015

I get phone calls from 02033 185569, saying that they were from “Road Traffic Management” associated with the Department of Transport, and have a cheque for £3,800 from the third party insurers, for a recent car accident.
They ask if I have signed with any solicitors after the accident.
They are very dismissive of any questions I asked, like Who issued the cheque, and as you have my name and address you can just put the cheque in the post.
They have a surprising amount of information about me, and an accident.
Quite unsettling.

yes I had a call telling me I am entitled to £.3000 for wiplash in an accedint i had
the information they have on this incident is amazing 5 calls so far from the same people
asking for all sorts of info and telling me a checqe will be in the post next week they are calling me again to comfirm some more info
I cant wait for the next call I am olny going through with this scam so far to see just what comes next
I am just winding them up .Will report what happenes next I waiting probally for a request for a small payment for the paper work ??

Ron Strutt says:
14 February 2015

I keep getting calls from an “Unknown” number giving a recorded message about a collision in which I was involved nearly 2 years ago. I suppose I ought to listen to it in full to find out who it is but I am usually so annoyed that I cut it off.

Would the garage that carried out the repairs know that it was a no-fault accident on my part. Surely only the insurance company or the loss adjusters would know that.

Mina says:
9 March 2015

Please be careful, for those of us with debt collectors ‘after us’, that it could be a ‘call center set up, for us to confirm our names, dod, and addresses, etc – even bank details!!

I’ve just answered a call (every monday now) from the road traffic accident people/PPI/Hearing loss etc, and when I wouldn’t confirm my name, the guy *something HIGGINS got all snotty with me and prefered to argue with me, when I told him in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t playing ball – last week’s caller did exactly the same thing, he was on for nearly half an hour, whilst I gave him the many reasons why not to call PRIVATE number again.

Today, I had an inkling to ask if HIGGINS really worked for debt collectors, instead of his BS story – at once, the line went dead!! He was busy telling me that the only way to stop these calls was if he passed me on to his com[plaints dept, so they could take my details instead (good cop, bad cop?), nobody would do that!!
But, as I said those magick words, he disappeared in a puff of self righteousness – just like that!

I ‘owe’ Orange £200, for a contract, which was broken by them – I wouldn’t put anything past debt collectors, after joining some really great FB groups on how to deal with these vultures.
Next time, I’m gonna set my rape alarm off down the mic, when they ring me again 🙂

Only my son’s school calls me on that number, so I always automatically fear the worst when it rings, and he’s at school – I’ve explained that to these deadheads, but they’re relentless.


Mina says:
9 March 2015

*dod = dob = date of birth

Sorry,I was distracted 🙂

Mina says:
9 March 2015

I do not and never have driven a car, btw – don’t even possess a driving licence, and I deffo haven’t been in a traffic accident..

Just to clear that up.

RTA Joe says:
6 August 2015

You don’t need to have held a driving license to have been involved in a road traffic accident.

You can be a passenger as I was last year

Katey says:
16 March 2015

I get about three to five calls a week from no caller id numbers telling me they have recieved my file regarding the road traffic accident I had. I have never had one, or owned a car in my name. How did they get my info? More importantly how do I get them to stop? I tell them to take my name of what ever list I’m on. I don’t owe any money and apart from buying and selling houses and a will, never used a solicitor. Feel rude hanging up but find it creepy they are telling me I’ve been in an accident and they have so called information on it.

Lying like that to make a contact is an apalling form of marketing trickery, Katey. It is indeed disturbing to receive such calls; I think they are detestable. The caller has no idea of the person who will pick up the phone and what state they might be in. The person might in fact have been involved in a very recent accident and this sort of call could be extremely upsetting, raising questions about the use of private information. The people behind these calls are hoping that they will get one or two “hits” out of every five hundred calls [say]; it must be profitable or they wouldn’t do it. There is another side to them: everything responders say isn’t true gives them more information to improve their database. The best thing to do is to say absoutely nothing and put the phone down; it’s not rude – they’ve been dishonest, invaded your privacy, and offended you.

Susan Winter says:
23 March 2015

My husband had a accident last Nov which was settled by his insurance company. I’ve just had a call from someone purporting to be from a company called ACA. When pressed, the lady said that the initials stood for After Claim Aftercare. I asked if they were calling on behalf of the insurance company but the silly girl quoted the Data Protection Act at me and told me ominously that the call was being recorded. I said I was quite pleased about that as any recording would show evasive she was being!
At that point, she ended the call.
My husband phoned his insurance company who say ACA are nothing to do with them and their Fraud Team are aware of their cold-calling. I would suggest that you put the phone down if you get a call.

John says:
9 April 2015

I had a car accident 4 years ago. The Insurers passed me on to a reputable solicitor who, after 6 months could not help me- mainly because I had no witnesses. I paid the excess and so that was that and the injury pain eventually wore off. Then I kept getting texts saying that X amount was waiting to be paid into my bank etc. I deleted all these calls. Now I have had a long call (on my personal mobile-where did they get this # from? must be my insurance company) saying ‘it is so easy to claim, just sign an email form’. I tried to find ‘Follow Up Services’, but they have no website. When they ring again tomorrow, unless they respect my wishes to be left alone, then I’m really going to have to tell them to do some awkward things…I think that all they do is just pass one on to another solicitor. Well, if the first one failed four years ago, what chance now?

Suzanne says:
14 April 2015

Sadly it seems I am not alone in these tiresome phone calls. At least whe it is from a mobile number I can set it to auto reject, but when it’s from a private number no such luck. I don’t generally answer private calls, but as I’m in the middle of something it could be important. I too have just had a call from some young sounding girl saying from ACA regarding my recent road traffic accident, not even an hour after receiving another call from another company. Not had an accident in 8 years and no idea where or who they bought my number from. Think I might invest in ‘playing them at their own game’ or whistling down the phone next time I get a call like this.

In a word……PARASITES!!

RTA Joe says:
6 August 2015

Have you never thought that these people are just doing their jobs, would you rather they were on benefits scrounging from tax payers, not to mention out committing petty crime?

Im not saying it is right but in the same breath if I did need their help then it is something I would be grateful for. After all we don’t always know our rights or entitlements when we have been involved in an accident

There is absolutely no justification for these parasitic callers to cold-call people on false pretences. In my experience most people who have been involved in an accident know exactly what to do next and a fair percentage have no intention of taking it any further anyway.

Being on benefits or committing petty crime are not the alternatives to doing a despicable job preying on the vulnerable and causing distress. The notion that these claims firms will be happy to advise people of their rights and entitlements before they have signed up to a loaded service agreement is unrealistic.

These parasites also won’t take no for an answer. The same person called 3 times yesterday, and was told to sod off the last time.

I had yet another call from a company saying they were from o2 wanting to make sure I was on the right contract and the caller even knew my middle name. He did admit he was from another company when I asked and said o2 outsourced their calling.

But this caller was trying to con me into a contract and had I not been wise to their deception I would have found myself no longer with o2 but some with some company I knew nothing about until the billing started.

All cold calling needs to stop.

neonnights says:
19 August 2015

call centre muppets! get a proper job

[This comment has been edited for breaking our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mod.]

jane says:
22 June 2016

RTA Joe, I do struggle with your views. I know very well that children/disabled/elderly people are an absolute pain in the neck, to fit-and-well people able to hold down a job, because I am a disabled person, and I feel a criminal for being so. I am seen as a scrounger, yes. But if you became disabled/unfit to work because of a traffic accident, would you not be grateful to taxpayers for a bit of money towards your existence? I am.
There is no way in the world that this sort of cold calling can be justified, and if you think these are the right people to take advice from, they’ll take your money, that’s all.

Pam says:
16 April 2015

I had a call from ‘road traffic accident bureau ‘ on my mobile. They asked to speak to my husband (quoted his first name) about his accident on 20th January . He didn’t have an accident, but I did. I guessed it was one of these no win no fee scam companies, but they sounded so official. What worries me more is the info they had, my mobile number and date of accident. They got some info wrong though. I asked them for a website address so I could check them out but they didn’t give me one, so I put phone down.
I contacted my insurance company cos I thought maybe the info was passed on by them, they investigating, I wonder if the garage passed it on…… Can’t think where else they got the info

neonnights says:
19 August 2015

its all of them! the insurance companies & the garages! Tesco insurance passed my details on, they are a very rubbish insurer!

[This comment has been edited for breaking our guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Gayle says:
18 May 2015

I just had a call from someone saying that they got my details from RTM Road Traffic Management Bureau (they kept quoting this company and it took me ages to get him to say that his company was called ‘compensation recovery UK’ – which doesn’t exist!)
He was very persistent saying that I had £3,760 in compensation waiting for me. He knew my name and address but kept asking me to ‘confirm’ details of my accident – he clearly didn’t have any of those details his end, so I was not prepared to divulge information to me.
He also kept trying to say that it’s the ‘law’ of the UK that I must have this compensation, he did not give up even when I told him I was a solicitor and I was unsure of what actual law he was quoting to me.
1471 – no number left.

I know where they got my info from

I have a car advertised for sale on gumtr €€ (didnt know if I could give the site name)

In my ad it has my first name, mobile number and car reg on the photos.

within a day I was getting calls saying hi mr steve re your accident and they had the car make model and reg.

They use this to make it sound like they have been refered to you when they havent, and if you have had an accident its just coincidence.


D J Marlow says:
28 May 2015

Follow Up Services have just called me from 01454 547749. And they answered the phone and identified themselves when I rang the number back.

Someone may find that information useful.

S green says:
28 May 2015

I just had a call from ACA asking about my recent accident (not had a scratch in over ten years) it is the third recent call of a similar nature, I simply asked for the company name and then the callers name, a Scouse chap got quite indignant about that, so I told him he’d better run along, at which time he lost his cool, i told him to maybe look for a better job as this one isn’t good for his blood pressure and bid him good day 😀 I am now signed up to the TPS scheme.

D James says:
2 June 2015

The other day while parking I backed into a bollard. After much grumbling and swearing I took it to the bodyshop to see how much a repair would be. I got a few quotes from several garages.
Today, I receive 3 calls from people asking if I wanted to make a claim from the accident I had. They must get the information from the garage and take a punt on me being injured.
I don’t, however, remember anything on the form to suggest that they would pass my details on.

With three calls in a day, there seems little doubt that your phone number has been passed on.

I periodically get a call about my car accident and explain that a van drove in to my father’s car when it was stationary, when I was learning to drive. When I say that the accident was in 1968 they lose interest.

Ruth says:
16 July 2015

I like that :). Engage in a long conversation about an accident and then say it was 50 years ago! I shall try that next time.

Mal Brook says:
4 June 2015

I got a phone call last week from someone claiming to be contacting me on behalf of Quindells who supplied the courtesy car after and accident I had in December 2014 which wasn’t my fault. They go through all the polite bits of asking if my car repairs were done satisfactorily and then they get to the bit about compensation for myself. I told them I wasn’t injured but they insisted that I would have been and there was money set aside by the National Health Service to cover this. I was a bit suspicious but played along until they told me they would put me through to their legal team and I was to say that I suffered neck and back injuries that would come and go for 6-8 weeks. Obviously this is fraud so I declined. They still keep phoning me, I have have had 4 different numbers call this week saying the same thing, as soon as they mention Quindells I put the phone down.

Cee says:
10 June 2015

I have a car advertised on the same site as a previous poster. Today I received a call from 0161 804 8569 from someone purporting to be from a firm of solicitors and quoting “Road Traffic Management Bureau” as the source of their information. He asked if I had claimed my £4,000 after my accident about 3 years ago.

He described my car, and I told him that as my car is for sale online I know he got that information from the internet. I noticed he never once used my name – unsurprising, as my name doesn’t appear in my advert! I then pointed out that I’ve had the car from new and never had an accident in it. He then claimed that the information is about me, not about my car, and that it could be an accident I had in another car or when I was a passenger.

He was astonishingly persistent and even asked me why I sound like I don’t want “my” £4,000.

I’ve had it up to here with these stupid calls. And on top of that, at least 3 or 4 times a day I get an automated call about PPI or injury claims or some other stupid thing. Extremely irritating as there isn’t even a human being on the line to send packing.

Iain Cameron says:
17 June 2015

I have had two telephone calls from ‘Follow up Services’ in the last couple of days, in both instances asking for details regarding the car accident which I recently had.
Upon enquiring about the source of the information, the caller merely stated it was they had received on an insurance company ‘circular’ which advises them of the names and addresses of road accident victims – they could not or would not provide any further information although I tried to drag it on for a while.
I finally stated that I had not had a road traffic accident of any description and that their information source was clearly incorrect, upon which the caller enquired as to what other type of accident I may have had which may lead to compensation….THE dreaded word, COMPENSATION…
Is it not time that the Government – or my namesake – took some action against these scammers??
This particular call originated from an East Yorkshire – Bridlington number – 01262.338368, although the caller claimed they were based in Liverpool – 65 County Road L4 3QT .


amy says:
19 June 2015

Follow up services/swift management are actually based in liverpool,they are freudulant,try to get you to claim on a RTA within past 2 years,I’ve had several calls off them and different companies,I have recently found out they are based in st hughs house in bootle,liverpool floor 6 I retrived this information from a friend in liverpool who’s friend works with them!

Caroline Barnes says:
1 July 2015

I’ve just had a call from this company despite my claim being settled 4 months ago. I intend to report them to the ICO. Number they called from is 02393 742398