/ Technology

New nuisance calls app helps you get your own back

Phone shock

Nuisance calls are a nuisance. It’s in the name. We’ve been tackling them head on with our 170,000 campaign supporters, but sometimes you just want to give them a taste of their own medicine. Well, now you can.

You might remember hearing about Lee Beaumont – he set up his own premium rate number to charge every foolish nuisance caller who decided to call him. And lots of you have also shared how you’ve had fun with these callers, including Jon:

‘I have a children’s toy that, at a press of a button, gives out messages from Captain Kirk on the Enterprise. There are several messages such as “BEAM ME UP SCOTTY!” which are useful during a conversation…’

Make nuisance callers buzz off

BuzzOff logoSilicon Valley start-up Lirpa Technologies, Inc. seems to have been inspired by all your antics and has today released a smartphone app to help you get your own back. Now available on both Apple and Android phones, BuzzOff promises a 96% efficiency rate at making nuisance callers hang up.

The concept is simple – the next time a caller offers to help you reclaim PPI, simply press the BuzzOff button on your phone and the nuisance caller will get a short sharp shock from their own phone. Lirpa Technologies claims the shock is harmless, but it will certainly send the message that their call isn’t welcome.

So how does it work? Joel T. Dylor, Chief Technical Officer at Lirpa, explains:

‘It’s a really simple idea. Our research found that over 80% of call center staff are now making their calls from mobile devices, either tethered to their work station or on the move. Their plan was to improve productivity and allow employees to work more flexibly, but it also gives consumers a lot more options for how to respond when cold-called. That’s when we had the idea for BuzzOff.

‘BuzzOff sends an over-the-air instruction to the NFC loop in a cold caller’s smartphone, inducing a current in the metal parts of the handset. This gives the caller a small electric shock. It’s not dangerous, but it’s enough to stop most people from calling again.’

Lirpa boasts a growing database of phone numbers for known nuisance calling companies, allowing you to set the BuzzOff app to automatically shock callers even before you answer the phone. And if you’re worried about accidentally sending a shock to your dear mama, you can add your friends’ and family’s phone numbers to a safe list.

What about calls to your landline?

I know what you’re thinking, not everyone has a smartphone. And you’re right – those that tend to be most affected by nuisance calls are at home answering calls on their landline phone.

To that end, Lirpa plans to release a solution for landlines. This time, when a nuisance caller rings your home phone, you can just dial ‘74625’ (which cunningly spells ‘SHOCK’) and the caller will experience the same harmless sensation as with the BuzzOff app. This technology is still in the works, but they expect to launch the number in the Autumn.

So, will you be downloading BuzzOff? Or do you have a better idea for an app to curb cold calls?

This was an April Fools post, published on 1 April 2015. BuzzOff won’t be coming to a phone near you.


Do tell us the significance of the tag ‘Rick Astley’ in relation the April Fool Convos. Traditionally, trying to confuse people should end at noon, I understand.

Thanks Patrick. I see what you meme. I would not have worked that out for myself.

I’m now trying to work out what the significance of the ‘Best comments’ tag is.


I love the idea, but I’d be worried about stopping someone’s pacemaker (or maybe restarting it?). I think I would prefer an app that played Woody (dial 96639) Woodpecker’s laugh loudly in the caller’s ear and then launch into the Looney Tunes theme music, and then cut off the call. What do you think?

Great idea Sophie! How about the birdy or popcorn song on repeat..? Surely, that’d drive anyone insane?!

If only this were true rather than an April 1st prank. Just had my 5th cold call of the day. So far 2 consumer surveys, 1 solar panel pitch, 1 prepaid funeral plan and worst of all a PPI recording. The recording was the worse because I didn’t have anyone to swear at, mind you the rest got it big time.

If it’s any encouragement I was getting up to ten calls a week and now get very few.

But the only way I can see of ending calls is for telephone marketing unless the householder gives their consent, using the threat of withdrawal of telephone services as a way of making companies comply.

Angie says:
9 April 2015

It is very odd that I have never had any nuisance calls until about three weeks ago. On the Saturday I had about 5 calls, then every day since I have had 3 or 4. I guess I must have signed up to something that said it had to have my phone number, then sold it on. ( Usually I give the area code then “000000” as my phone number, which most companies accept.)
I have been signed up to the Telephone Preference Service for donkey’s years. I think these new calls are all coming from India, so I will probably never be able to get rid of them…

Buzz Off was a great April Fool…even better than the Panorama spaghetti trees. I for one was completely Rick-rolled. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/1/newsid_2819000/2819261.stm

I would have thought Which? would have more sense than to publish an April fool story! Would that it were true! Nuisance calls are a serious problem, and should be a crime, punishable by automatic prison sentences, and confiscation and destruction of telecommunications equipment used to make them. Hopefully, someone will find a way to make this April fool story come true – if I could, it wouldn’t be a small and harmless shock – it would really hurt!!!