/ Technology

How do cold callers know so much about you?

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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.

Fed up to my back teeth! says:
15 July 2015

I had a no fault accident some months ago and must have had 70 – yes at least 70 – calls about this offering me compensation for my injuries. Since I was not even in the vehicle at the time I fail to see how I could have been injured.
They know my name and both home and mobile numbers and the calls keep coming. My insurance company claims they have not passed on my info. I can only assume it is either the car hire company or the garage that did the repairs. So beware – give as little info as possible away and put something in writing to prevent them from passing on your details.
Sadly I was not canny enough to do this so how do I now stop these unwanted calls?
Some of the calls are very clever and the number on the phone appears to be a local number…..
When I rant down the phone at them they cut off the call but then someone else from the same alleged company tries me later in the day.

Ruth says:
16 July 2015

Have just ended a call with a girl from “Follow Up Services” whoever they may be. It took me 15 minutes to extract the name of her company from her and I’m still not sure what she was pretending to offer.

The call was on MY mobile number about my son’s accident and vehicle damage. Except he doesn’t drive and hasn’t had an accident. I dragged the call out for as long as possible because I was bored and took perverse pleasure in wasting their time. I do wonder why they linked my phone number to my son though; we’ve never shared or swapped numbers.

Eventually, after about 25 minutes, the call centre girl hung up on me when I asked for her company’s website address. Wonder why….

LG01 says:
24 July 2015

Have had several calls claiming to be from Albany Assist about my ‘my recent motoring incident’. Now I did have a bump, she reversed into me, we exchanged details, but there was no damage to my car and I never made a claim. I did have to make a claim via my insurance for windscreen replacement and they passed this onto their partner. So either Premier Windscreens or the other driver’s insurance company have passed on my details and I’m now getting all these calls! Now when the call and ask for me by name I ask who is calling. We then go through this perverse dance when she (it is usually a young woman) says that she can’t divulge that until she is sure she is speaking the correct person. To which I reply that I am unwilling to divulge my details unless I know who is requesting it and that we are now at an impasse. It then turns into who will blink first as I put the phone on speaker and just carry on with whatever i’m doing until they hang up. I have to say, that it is getting shorter and shorter and I hope that we are getting to the point where they don’t bother phoning at all!

Jem-Bee says:
16 November 2015

I have actually used Albany Assist in the past, they link with my insurance company. I wonder if scammers are now fraudulently using the names of real companies to get people to believe the call is legitimate?? I’ve had a few calls in the last week or so from other ‘companies’ mentioned on this thread so considering writing to Albany/insurers/repairers to investigate where my DPA breach has originated.

Ruth/LG01– Have nothing to do with Albany “Assist ” they are a credit company and they “loan ” you money to get your car sorted if they cant recoup their outlay from the third party then they come back to you to pay for it-ie-hire car -repairs etc . They are also near the top of the spammers list trying to get you to deal with them -have NOTHING to do with them your insurance company should be the only one you deal with . Many complaints on many websites -some of the printable comments -“thieves ” “gangsters ” etc . Any body challenging this I can provide websites to click onto.

Albany Assistance does not make unsolicited outbound calls to the public. However it has come to our attention that people have been receiving such calls, made in the name of ‘Albany’ or ‘Albany Assist’.

We believe these calls are targeting individuals to fraudulently obtain information relating to road traffic accidents and possible injuries sustained by the driver and/or passengers.

If you receive such calls from any company claiming to be ‘Albany’ or ‘Albany Assist’ we would ask that you send details including the phone number used (if not withheld), the times and dates of calls and any other information you think may be relevant so we may investigate and take action – contact details are on our website http://www.albanyassistance.co.uk/nuisancecalls.aspx

Outbound calls
Where we do need to contact our existing customers, for security purposes we take steps to verify both your and our identity before discussing any details.

We do not share customer information with third parties unless a customer provides their permission, and only then with companies directly relevant to a claim we are dealing with.

We are currently collating as much information as possible in relation to these calls and are passing information to our police liaison officer who is investigating this matter further.

For more information please see our website – http://www.albanyassistance.co.uk/nuisancecalls.aspx

[Hello, your comment has been tweaked to align with our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods]

While I appreciate the fact Which had to “tone down ” your advertising I think a bit of gratitude is acceptable towards this company for coming out in public and putting its cards on the table by saying it doesnt make unsolicited calls and advising anyone who gets them to treat them as scam calls ,at least its making an effort. i will of coarse just check myself to verify if this is 100 % kosher.

Lisa Davies says:
29 July 2015

Bit disconcerting, just had a call from CCS at my work phone number asking for my daughter, said I was her Mum and they said she had had an accident a few weeks ago (she hadn’t). They knew what car she drives, but also no idea how they got my work phone number (we are ex directory at home) and I am pretty sure she wouldn’t have put my work number down on anything?

Jo says:
30 July 2015

I often get these phone calls. They tell me they are calling about the car accident I have been involved in within the last 2-3 years.
I haven’t been involved in an accident and when I start asking for details of where they got their info from and to tell me everything they know about said accident they hang up.

Jo says:
30 July 2015

I often get these phone calls. They tell me they are calling about the car accident I have been involved in within the last 2-3 years.
I haven’t been involved in an accident and when I start asking for details of where they got their info from and to tell me everything they know about said accident they hang up.
I am also ex directory so don’t know where they get my. Ame and number from.

Alice says:
4 August 2015

Just had a call from ” follow up services ” on my mobile, asking for me by my full name, asking about the car accident I had 3 years ago, I have never had a car .. not been in any kind of road traffic collision in last 3 years. Asked them where there info was from .. they said ” various sources ” .. Who is sharing my data with them …. evidently their sources are poor quality as if they were any gd, they would know I don’t drive/have a vehicle etc !

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? I’m sure you have all at some point (those who have ever worked) have done a job that isn’t very glamourous.

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. My understanding is that alot of numbers are passed on when we as consumers apply for things online, LOANS and PAYDAY LOANS are big ones. As are insurance brokers when you fail to tick/untick the box.

Funny thing is, these guys probably know were they obtained your information and so laugh to themselves knowing the majority are those who have at some point applied for these loans.

Spare a thought moving forward though, your anger shouldn’t be at someone who is merely employed to do a job. It should be at the government or the industry.

hotwheelzzz says:
6 August 2015

i agree RTA Joe, i was made up when i got a call from a lovely scouse lad named Jonny, was very polite and helped me get a claim up and running, 3 grand richer, best phone call of my life.

loisR says:
6 August 2015

I also agree with RTA Joe, I had a nice young scouse lad who was very polite and well spoken over the phone, I think his name was Joe who worked for the accident advice centre. The situation was resolved in a matter of weeks and I received a full payout for £2750. very pleased.

Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, that’s my favorite saying 😉

Andy c says:
20 August 2015

They have no idea whether you have had an accident. They say the same thing to everyone and a % of people who have had accidents buy it. Ignore.

J Smith says:
14 September 2015

I have just received a call from Follow Up Services. They rang me from a local number so I assumed it was someone I know. When I answered, they hung up. I rang back and was given a torrent of abuse from a member of staff who did not appreciate the difference between “you rang me” meaning the Company, and “you” personally.

They have no details of anything. Purport to be phoning on behalf of my insurance company but cannot tell me who that is. It is basically just a fishing exercise by an opportunist company who employ staff with no personal skills whatsoever.

I recently renewed my car insurance and all of a sudden ACA have called me 4 times in a week. Definitely related.

Yesterday happened the same thing to me, a solicitor from AM Legal phoned me and ask did you suffered a car accident in Germany i said no it only break down my car on highway, after that hang up tried to call back but some voicemail enters all the time, how could he possibly know what happened to me 1 month ago, did my tesco insurance company give forward my details..? or there is someone hacked in their database…

Jonathan says:
12 January 2016

I have had several calls relating to a so called “car accident” over the last year on my mobile number. The latest was just now from an outfit calling themselves “Follow Up Services”. I did some damage reversing my trailer in my drive and had it repaired by a garage near Newcastle. Nobody else was involved and insurance not notified. I took it to two places only and one of them did the repair. It’s either that or one of my teenage sons has dobbed me in for a bit of extra pocket money…

My car was scraped by my neighbour’s dad last year when he was reversing. Four companies were involved in the repairs to my car; my insurance (Hastings), his insurance (Sheila’s Wheels), body shop (5-Star Repairs) and vehicle hire (Albany Assist). One of these four firms have given out my details. I’ve received approx six calls in the past six weeks from a variety of scammers telling me that I’m entitled to compensation for the injuries I incurred in an accident I’d had the past two-three years. Seeing as though I was in the garden playing with my daughter when my car was damaged, I find it hard to believe. The latest call was from an Edinburgh number and when I searched for it I found it listed on the dodgy list. Each time I receive one of these calls I tell them that they are ambulance chasers; it really annoys them!

I’ve recently had a call from a company calling themselves ICS – asking about a road traffic accident – they were correct as I had been a passenger in one about a month ago. They said although you haven’t been injured, you are in the ‘discomfort’ claim category! I was and still am sceptical about this. I went along with this and then they asked for my NI number…. to which I replied why do you need this? They said the legal team need to check you are a british citizen and they can pay your compensation. I asked them to put this in writing – they emailed me from a company called Accident Claim expert ? – and then proceeded to phone me numerous times. I am still saying to them put it in writing and I may complete any forms if legitimate .
What does anyone think?

Mandy -in the US he would ba called an “ambulance chaser ” . What I am trying to work out is whether he is acting alone or if he is an agent for larger insurance /legal companies . Even so there is no way in hell I would type the information required by him into your browser unless you want the world to know your details . His site isnt a specially protected one for a start like a banking site so is open to being hacked for info I will check for trackers on it and get back ,personally —(IMOA) – I wouldnt touch him with a barge pole legal or not. —–Just as I thought my protection tells me this website is NOT secure and guess what ?? — who is the worlds number ONE tracker— GOOGLE and TWO big juicy ones are waiting to track you round the web .

Same as many other stories. I had a prang about 18 months ago. About a year later a scouse lad was on the phone (which is TPS registered) about my passenger’s injuries (there was no passenger). After a while I just thought the whole thing lacked professionalism and credibility, so I ended the call. I’ve had two calls since, same guy I think, the most recent was earlier today. I told him I thought it was a scam and he started arguing – I put the phone down. My guess is it’s lead generation for accident lawyers.

The latest guy is Indian sounding from the same “school of Ambulance chasers ” I would like anybody to say whether the telephone number was=0151-324-1001 . He seems to have started with a New Years resolution of getting into the scamming game as about 10 people have been contacted by him in a month and a half that have actually gone to the trouble of posting their complaints about him .

Beth Hayward says:
23 March 2016

I’ve had calls from ‘follow up services’ trying to talk to me about a car accident (that I have never had). Next time they call I will try to stay calm, not hang up on them and find out where they may have got my details from.

Did you ever find out Beth?

Motherofboys says:
20 May 2016

I’ve had phone calls for the last year on my mobile, but for the wrong person!! So either the garage/insurance company gave the wrong name, or an individual got fed up and gave a made up a number which happened to be mine. That seems to have faded now.

However, I had an accident a few months ago (I reversed into a parked car in a car park) and I just had a phone call from “Unknown Number”. Thinking it was my husband calling from work, I stupidly answered. The man on the end of the phone started to reel off the registration of my car and the name of the person who owned the car I crashed into. He asked me to concur that someone “had crashed into me” and told me I was entitled to £2000 compensation. I very politely explained that couldn’t possibly be right because the accident was my fault. He then proceeded to ask me if I’d driven into someone and ask other questions that were none of his business . When I said, again as politely as I could, “I don’t think I need to go through the details with you; it has all been settled with the insurance companies”. He retorted, “Oh shut-up” and hung up. Nice. And to think at the time I was pushing my toddler along in a buggy whilst trying to get out of the way of a blind lady and her guide dog, and bothering to speak to him and be polite. I really take offense to that. Am going to get in touch with my insurance company and check they don’t pass the details on. Just infuriating. In the meantime, thank you Devonlady for the whistle advice! I have a very loud dog whistle that should do the trick (from another Devonlady!)