/ Technology

Lee Beaumont calls cold callers’ bluff with an 0871 number

Yellow phone

Our Which? Convo regular Lee Beaumont’s story of using a premium rate 0871 number to charge nuisance callers has gone global. How do you deal with nuisance callers?

Many of you have told us about the creative ways you handle nuisance calls, from blowing whistles down the phone to telling tall tales to confuse callers.

And last week we gave Lee Beaumont our Comment of the Week for sharing how he has turned the table on cold callers:

‘I have a 0871 as my home number. I have this so I make money when PPI/cold callers phone me.’

After paying for his premium rate number, Lee gets paid by the minute for cold calls. Now, while it’s not something we’d recommend, Lee told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme how it works for him:

avatar‘I was getting annoyed with the PPI calls when I’m trying to watch Coronation Street, for instance, so I’d rather have an 0871 so I can make 10p a minute.

‘I thought there must be a way to make money off these phone calls.’

Separate number for family and friends

Since he set up the number in 2011, Lee says he’s made around £300 from the calls he’s received. But don’t worry, he told us that he has a separate number for family and friends:

‘My 0871 numbers sits on top of my normal Leeds 0113 number. Two people have my 0113 number and that is my mother and my best friend. There is no need to give anyone else the number as I speak to other people via text or on Skype for free.’

However, setting up such a number is something Phone Pay Plus (the premium number regulator) warns against. It told Radio 4:

‘Premium-rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any listeners from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result.’

Make sure to report nuisance calls

Lee’s tactic isn’t something we’d recommend – we don’t think you should have to set up a premium rate number to get back at nuisance callers. It might reduce the amount of money Lee makes with his 0871 number (as a regular, we’re sure he’ll forgive us for this), but we don’t think you should have to put up with nuisance calls at all!

So if you get interrupted by a nuisance call, make sure to fight back by reporting them with our simple tool. If more of us complain, it will send a clear message that more needs to be done to stop this menace.


Well Done Lee.

Odd how Phone Pay Plus have warned about using such a tactic yet they are very quiet about companies doing the same.

So if 0871 numbers should be avoided, what about 070 personal numbers, can they be used to generate revenue too?

And how much longer must we the poor public have to put up with a very visible lack of action from regulators and government. Nuisance phone calls/texts have been going on FAR to long now.

And good as your simple tool maybe what is the point of reporting a silent call with no return number? And how do those without internet access report nuisance calls.

The best way to report a nuisance call should be to enter a simple code down the phone during or immediately after a call. I can guarantee 100% that anyone who has had a nuisance phone call has a phone.

Henryj says:
30 August 2013

William. I agree 100% with you. Let Phone Pay Plus explain why they allow companies to use 0871 but are concerned about private customers using it. Maybe Which should ask them this

And maybe they can explain why 10 years after the NHS issued guidelines that doctors surgeries shouldn’t use premium rate numbers, several still are.

I found a couple just googling “uk doctor surgery 0871”

I agree Phonepayplus have got it totally wrong here. They seem to misunderstand their own rules! If it’s a sales call it is not a consumer calling, so no need to publish tariff and its a business to business call.

Anyway, why shouldn’t folks get paid for their valuable time answering sales calls?

I got my 0871 number free from Flextel and then use other numbers from them for family, friends and colleagues. I can also filter who can call me by using Flextel’s auto-attendant and call divert free features.

The big issue is that now we have cheap phone calls, we are getting spam calls like we do on email.

I think we should all be allowed to have 0871 numbers and also that sales calls should only be permitted to these numbers and banned to ordinary 01 and 02 numbers.

Sue Preston says:
28 July 2014

After looking at PayPayPlus website I came across some packages for sale they offer at a cost of £300!!! I also found out they are an agency. Don’t want people to make money unless they do!!!!

How much would an 09 number cost? I would like to make lots of money from nuisance callers. 🙂

Well done Lee with finding a novel solution, but I agree with Patrick that it is not something that we should all have to do.

I used to do this with 0870 numbers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I received plenty of money from companies phoning me. My Orange tariff at the time even included calls to 0870 numbers, so I could simply phone myself to generate even more revenue. The economics of 0870 numbers have since changed, but I might consider 0871 instead.

Thanks Patrick. It’s been a crazy 2 days. Been on TV once, going on TV again tomorrow and done 9 radio interviews!

Do let us know if we can hear or see any of the interviews on iPlayer.

DanielM says:
4 September 2013

its a shame. i agree with 100% that he’s done right but it could also be illegal and against the rules of such numbers.

typically i tell cold callers to go away (not so politely) and they never call back

It is NOT illegal. Who told you that it was? I have spoke to payphoneplus 3 times over the last week and what i am doing is NOT breaking the code.

DanielM says:
5 September 2013

I run these numbers for a business purpose

you need to inform them they are calling a premium rate number (you need to display this usally on a website or similiar)

i got in trouble for that very same thing.

When I post my number online I do post the charge – Proof is on this blog http://bigbrowser.blog.lemonde.fr/2013/08/30/ne-quittez-pas-agace-par-le-telemarketing-un-britannique-decide-de-faire-payer-les-entreprises/

I also put my number at the end of my e-mails and have “Calls to my number are 10p per min from BT Landlines. But don’t call from a mobile. It will be much more than 10p a min”

I don’t mean to be rude. But do you think I would be all over the BBC and ITV (and Which? come to that), if i was breaking the code? I am NOT doing anything illegal.

Please feel free to speak to phonepayplus who i have spoke to 3 times over the last week.

DanielM says:
5 September 2013

am on you’re side pal. just worried if you get fined that’s all. don’t want others to make the same mistake i did.

DanielM says:
5 September 2013

and to be honest i don’t trust what the BBC says. not a channel i tend to watch.

i only found out about this via a facebook post

It’s cool, I’m just trying to point out that if you have read what i do you would already know that i make sure every company i deal with understands the charges for my 0871 number.

At least you have acted properly, Lee. Now how do we persuade Daniel to do the decent thing and provide customers with a geographical or free number? 🙂

HAHAHA, I didn’t even notice that lol. Yes Daniel, why do you use a premium rate number for your business? lol

DanielM says:
5 September 2013

It’s only for Tech support. it’s not a profit thing its more to stop customers calling for problems they could resolve on there own.


Fair enough if your company is in business to provide technical support. If your company is supplying goods, how do you distinguish between lazy customers and those with faulty equipment or who have been provided with poor instructions, or may have a disability that makes it difficult for them to follow instructions?

DanielM says:
5 September 2013

No we provide a web design & web hosting service.

Don’t get me wrong.we have local numbers too for basic support and billing etc,. but for really technical stuff it’s the 0871 number. rather that or charge stupid prices for support which i don’t agree with.

we are talking advanced setup, configuring linux services etc.

My use of these numbers as i said earlier is too stop customers calling for silly stuff. on a personal level i don’t like the numbers. but for the cut i take from the call (around 6p a min) that pays for the support. that the customer may have had to spend £100-£200 on alternative support arrangements.

Companies are abusing these numbers for profit. and gain. we do not..

OK Daniel, but we did not have this information to start with. All you had told us is that you had got into trouble for not informing customers about the cost of calling an 0871 number.

Lee, it seems it’s ok for companies to make loadsa money from the gullible public but how dare an individual try and make money from nuisance callers. Daniel uses them to stop people calling him for silly stuff we also want companies to stop calling us for silly or unsolicited reasons and perhaps if we all did the same as Lee we could stop the nuisance calls.

Very true Figgerty 🙂


I commented earlier about an 09 number, which could be quite lucrative. Do you happen to know how much this would cost and whether these numbers can be used legally by the public?

DanielM says:
5 September 2013

I have one of those too 🙂

but its used as a bill paying service. (for customers who don’t have a bank account etc)

Anyone can get one. but you need to register as a provider, bt business sell them for a one off £25. or monthly cost with bigger payouts.

I did look into a 09 number. But it was too risky with the fine. So that is why I picked the 0871 number as I new i was not breaking the code (no matter who “others” say).

Fair enough. Thanks for letting us know, Lee.


I fully accept that companies like yours have to recoup the cost of providing genuine services, but so often we have to go through lots of button pressing and being transferred from one person to another before we get to speak to someone who will provide help. I’m not surprised that many, including me, look for alternative numbers to make calls cheaper.

I use a large web hosting service that provides support via an 020 number, which I believe is covered by my tariff. I spent quite a long time on the phone and eventually discovered that they had not provided me with a piece of essential information, either via email or on their website. They wasted a lot of my time, but at least they did not make money out of my calls.

Now that everything is working well, I don’t anticipate calling them again. One of the reasons I chose this hosting service is because the helpline did not use an expensive phone number.

Figgerty says:
29 August 2013

Fame indeed, Lee – being the topic of a Which? Conversation. Good luck on TV and hopefully we will get to watch you in action.

Figgerty says:
30 August 2013

No jealousy intended, just admiration. Lee seems a really nice fella and I wish him well with his media career. A reality show is just around the corner. How about Which? brother?

I prefer Which? Brother, featuring Lee Beaumont, Patrick Steen, John Ward, Wavechange, Dieseltaylor and many other regular contributors to Which? Conversation. It would be compelling viewing watching you all in the Which? Brother House.

I think the ladies have a lot to contribute. 🙂

Only if we can have Davina McCall back lol

Lee. Davina returns soon to host a dancing show tonight on ITV called Strickly for Couples. Just seen that when checking the TV guide for the week. She will not be available for Which? Brother. Perhaps Holly Willoughby would do instead.

Heard you on radio and you sound just the same as you come across in your postings. Very genuine and affable. After your brief period of fame, are you sure you would still wish to do a Which? brother, Davina or Holly included.

Mike Bird says:
30 August 2013

Well done Lee, really good idea! Noting the warnings, I have had a look at the Phone Pay Plus site, but the regulations don’t really seem to cover this sort of use of 0871 numbers. Would you mind telling us how we deal with the regulations? Perhaps put some pointers in a blog or online? Thanks for an inspiring idea, let’s hope it spreads!

Organised says:
30 August 2013

I very rarely get cold called on my landline. I’m not even signed up to the TPS – no need! My mobile phone is switched off most of the time and only family and friends have the number. I would never make a penny from an 0871 number!

Nuisance callers and crooks mostly do not provide their telephone numbers – in order, I presume, to avoid discovery and the retribution that might follow. I am interested to know what other reason there might be for persons who initiate calls to withhold their telephone numbers from the person they wish to contact? If there are no reasons that will actually shake the foundations of democracy, why are telephone providers (as part of their licences) not obliged to disclose all numbers via the 1471 enquiry system instead of encouraging fraud and annoyance as at present?

Old Codger says:
31 August 2013

I use an Answerphone, which is permanently on. It seems very effective at deterring cold callers.

David Peckham says:
31 August 2013

I made a answer machine message stating that I was unavailable but if they leave a number or message I would get back to them.nobody leaves a message and friends know and just ask after message.
No problems

Still can’t get over this all. Been on TV twice, been on the radio 18 times. BBC took me to Media City so i could be live on BBCOne/BBCNews. My story is on over 100 websites around the world.

Even my mum (who lived in Aus) had read about it over there & some other family in New York have read stuff there too.

It’s crazy. I am just a normal 25 year old lad. If any of you have seen me on TV or heard me on the radio you will know I am not made out for the media world. Thank god I only have 2 more radio to-do next week and a US show too and Please let’s just let it die then lol.

DavidB says:
1 September 2013

In response to CLIP, it should be a legal requirement for all businesses, organisations and public services to transmit a valid caller ID when calling the public.

Robert says:
1 September 2013

Interesting way of getting back at these pests.
What puzzles me is why these companies would dial an 0871 no. in the 1st place as they are normally for companies- do their multple diallers not just target domestic consumers & set their equipment to achieve this??
I find caller display 100% effective – if a no. is unavailable/witheld, the caller doesnt get answered+ any decent legit caller will leave a message on the answerphone..

Angela says:
1 September 2013

Well done Lee! ( these companies need something better than their own medicine) but I don’t recommend 0871 registration.

They have caused me and many thousands, probably millions of people frustration and annoyance, disrupted mealtimes and social gatherings. They have also affected some individuals health and well being, which is totally unacceptable!

Getting from one part of the home to another to answer the phone to some one you want to talk to is one thing, but for someone elderly or with mobility problems is quite something else, particularly when it happens on a regular basis, as I experienced after an operation.

These calls can be a health and safety hazard both physically and mentally and people’s well being and privacy must come before the use of practices these companies feel they need to use to enhance their profits further.

George says:
1 September 2013

I find cold callers a sport, either say the house holder is not in or run around the house calling for him until they hang up.

Alternatively, I start asking them questions, like how is the weather in Bangalore? My goodness you’re staying up late, how old is your kitchen or windows?

I recently told the man purporting to be from the PC advise centre that I’d only used Macs for years so couldn’t understand why my computer needed his advise etc.

Time is money to the scamsters and I love wasting their time.

0871 numbers are not intended to be used this way?
Or so says the “premium number regulator”
Well other than ripping people off what exactly are they intended for? Perhaps someone might like to try justifying them because other than the very good use Lee Beaumont has put his 0871 number to I cannot think of a justification for them.

As I said above, I used to do the same as Lee with 0870 numbers before revenue sharing was abolished on 0870 numbers several years ago.

When companies didn’t want to phone me on my 0870 number, I used to say to them “But your number is also 0870 so we’re in the same area code. Surely it must be a local call?“. Of course this was total nonsense, but the more stupid call centre workers would believe me.

Dave A says:
4 September 2013

I use my answering machine. My message says “Hello. Despite being on the telephone preference register, 90% of calls to this number are spam. So I never answer this phone. If your call is important please leave a message telling me the subject, and a telephone number and I’ll get back to you. If you are friend, please call my mobile. Thank you.”

Calls – around five a day.
Messages left – maybe one a month.

Kelvin says:
11 September 2013

Five years or so ago, we installed and answer-phone. Although we get 5-8 irritating calls a day, as soon as the phone triggers the machine, the cold caller -or their computer, cuts off the call! All friends, relations and regular callers have been told that we will not pick up the ‘phone until we hear a recognised ID
However, today, a long-winded advertising message was left when I was out, but these are rare and very unproductive for them, moreover, they create anti-PR for the company concerned because of the irritation factor. Still bloody intrusive though!

Do try this as the answerphones are not expensive.

Keep fighting the time-wasting parasites!


Willow Garth says:
30 November 2013

I have reduced my land line nuisance calls by registering but now am getting them on my mobile. When I am abroad this costs me money, But the final straw came last week when my 2day old grand-daughter was admitted to hospital and I got a call at 0300 am. I woke in a panic ! Some company wanted to sell me roof insulation !

DanielM says:
30 November 2013

There loss.it costs them quite abit to call a mobile. But you could always tell them to go away in a un polite method.


It costs even more for them to call a 0871 number than a mobile :p haha