/ Money, Technology

Scam watch: dodgy cold caller offers


No matter how convincing they sound, never give your card details to someone who’s called you out of the blue. That’s what Which? member Dev found out…

Dev Raj told us: ‘Around three months ago, someone rang up claiming to be a Sky employee, and told me that, as I was a valued customer, they wanted to reduce my bill by 50%. I agreed and told them to go ahead. The caller then told me that I would have to pay £1 as a legal requirement to process the application.

‘I thought something smelt fishy when they asked me to pay this amount using my credit card. I suggested they should charge an extra £1 on my direct debit, but they refused, so I declined the offer. I contacted Sky and they confirmed that nobody from their office had called. I think I was saved from handing over my card details to a scam caller.’

Our say on cold call offers

You were very right to be cautious. If a cold caller offers you something which seems too good to be true, it normally is. We would encourage customers of all home phone and broadband companies to be wary of cold callers asking for credit card details.

Many of these companies instruct sales staff to make outbound calls to existing customers, often with the aim of encouraging them to take out new contracts. But, if they are genuine employees, they will be more than happy for you to call them back and complete the sale.

We also have more details on how to get your money back if you’ve been a victim of a scam, including information on how to make a claim under Section 75 and useful letter templates.

Have you been cold called by a scammer? Did you fall for it, or see right through their wily words?


I am registered with TPS, so if someone cold calls me they are breaking the law.

If I do speak to them then they have to endure a short lecture about the annoyance of cold calls before being told that I have never bought anything as a result of a phone call.


Mrs. Julie Howarth says:
19 July 2014

I was at my sisters last week, and within 1 hour of my arriving the phone rang 7 times, she kept picking the phone up to see who was calling, Just incase it “Was ” someone she knew. We are both in our 70’s she said oh! It’s someone trying to sell me something I’m fed up of them, the rang once more, I picked it up the caller was an automatic speech, at the end of the conversation it said if you do not want to receive anymore calls from them to press no. 9. We have heard of so many scams, our family have told us Not to press any numbers if asked to do so, as you can guess we just put the phone down, and let these unnecessary calls keep ringing
We are both on TPS list but they keep on coming., what do you suggest ?

The first priority should be to make sure that you don’t consent to a company passing on your details, for example to ‘selected other companies’ That may involve being careful about check boxes when filling in forms. When speaking to people on the phone, tell them you don’t want your details used in marketing. I renewed my insurance the other day and made my requirements clear before giving any details. Which? has plenty of advice on how to report nuisance calls.

Try to get friends to leave a message even if they just want to chat. Most nuisance callers will hang up when the answering machine/service takes over.

Try not to let nuisance calls wear you down. I wish I could follow my own advice here. 🙁

Why bother even spending time talking to the caller? Also, do you think that they care about the fact that they are breaking the law?

I bought myself a Pro Call Blocker from eBay, it cost about £10. Now all withheld numbers are blocked and if I get a sales call or any annoying call I blacklist the number so they are rejected before my phone even rings. My annoying calls have gone from several a week to at most 1 a month, which I add straight to the blacklist and I am never bothered again, and I know that at least 99% of my calls are from people I want to speak to. Peace at last!

Stainless says:
30 July 2014

We use an answerphone and keep it switched on, any friends and family will soon know to speak after the recorded message and you can pick up and talk to them. Anyone selling will not reply, Our lives have been mush more peaceful.

silvi says:
19 October 2014

I receive lots with the same number from caller
6days a week plus my phone message box run
out recording time by this company .Didn’t stop the
phone calls or texts daily which flooded my box .
Grrr! Never spoken to the person on the other end.
Left it ringing even though it drive crazy .end of that
month never heard from them they gave in..
Other menace cold calling caller say’s it will only take
2mins of your time ”Right ” listening i look at my watch
it just past the 2mins i say sorry 2mins over i put the phone

“never give your card details to someone who’s called you out of the blue” such simple advice yet I never understand why so many people fall for it.

I always get a caller to confirm they are who they say they are now, by asking for things like the 1st letter of my mother maiden name, or the 3rd letter of my memorable address.

If its a legit caller, they should understand.

Dellboy says:
19 July 2014

I have two ways of dealing with cold callers.

1 I tell them I will get the person they need to speak to and then leave the phone of the hook. Long time record before they rang off is 23 minutes.

” I tell them the person they want is on another number and then give them the number of a massage parlour or other cold call number I may have collected.

After a few months my cold calls dropped to about two a week which I can live with.

Have fun

Rachel Henderson says:
19 July 2014

I had a phone call ‘from Barclaycard’ which was an automated message about possible fraudulent use of my card. I put the phone down and rang Barclaycard using the number in my card user’s guide to check that the call was genuine. It was, and they asked me about some unusual transactions I had made. I am glad that they are so ‘on the ball’, but I would never use a number given to me over the phone to ring them, and I don’t like the fact that it’s an automated message.

Many of the most annoying nuisance calls are from overseas so not covered by TPS, and some will show a ‘pretend’ local number to deceive you.

Had a similar call from my bank once. Asked them to send me a secure message via their website. When this arrived, I was certain that the call had been genuine.

Cityslicker says:
26 July 2014

To be fair to the bank/card provider concerned, they probably use an automated system for speed of notification since a lot of the fraudulent use will be picked up by their systems, when time is of the essence so that cards can be quickly stopped and cancelled.
This has happened to me, and I called the bank/card provider back with no difficulty. Unfortunately, my card has been cloned twice, so I am getting quite used to the process now.

tonyE1951 says:
26 July 2014

We need a change in the law. Many of the calls I receive from the indian subcontinent are asking for my opinion – surveys/marketing calls. They are undertaking this work for a UK company – the connection may not be direct but if you give these people information it’s a UK company that uses it. If the law was amended to make it an offence for any UK company to use information obtained in this way they would soon stop provided that the defence that they didn’t actually make the call isn’t permitted.

To save being pestered I changed my number in the hope the calls would abate, complete waste of time! When the phone rings and I pick it up without speaking, anyone genuine immediately says, “hello is that you Richard/Mr A? ‘ If there’s silence just put the receiver down straight away, they soon take the hint and gradually my ” cold calls” are getting fewer.

chris w says:
26 July 2014

My 94 year mother has been caught out twice by a firm in littlehampton offering firstly a satellite dish service agreement at £7.50 a month last year and a pro phone blocker for £65 this year. She really had no clue what they were selling. But terms and conditions were there and it cost a £ 10 cancellation fee last year. I managed to send the phone blocker back recorded delivery this year . They still have a few days left to reimbuse. But they did not include any receipt in the parcel. I had registeted her phone on the TPS service some time ago . Fat lot of good that did. Makes my blood boil as to how much they are conning old people out of.

chris w says:
30 July 2014

Got the 64.99 back but not the recorded delivery postage. Have advised my mother to be rude to callers like that and just put the phone down. She is of a generation that finds that hard to do.

We have a very elderly relative who was conned regularly and, in addition, since her memory is bad she would agree to take a service that she already had with another company.

We solved the problem by purchasing a Truecall Care system. This only allows calls through from trusted friends, optician, doctor and dentist. If need be you can also limit outgoing calls.

If someone rings her who is not on the list, they hear a message from us and can contact us and we can give them a number that will allow access. This number, itself, can be changed when required.

Since we live some distance from our relative, the brilliant thing about this devise is that we can alter all of the settings remotely. So that if a new telephone number needs to be added, it can be done from our computer. It really is a brilliant devise.

We have the normal version of Truecall – again it allows trusted callers straight through but everyone else is asked by the machine to state their name – cold callers rarely respond so our phone does not even ring – the devise handles it all by itself.

We did take the option of being able to record our phone calls – this can be automatic or as and when required. We found this to be very useful in a dispute with a car company since we could download our conversations and tell them precisely what their representatives had said and at a what precise time they had said it during a particular conversation. It certainly rattled them.

My number of cold calls have reduced considerably, if it is a cold call, I either answer in German or with the first verse of “one man went to mow” in Swahili. This has proved very effective, especially if these calls originate from an overseas source, I would imagine answering in any foreign language would confuse them completely, for me it has proved very effective.

georgina says:
27 July 2014

had a call, said they were from Microsoft and said my old computer had a virus and asked me to turn my computer on so they could solve the problem, I declined hung up and called Microsoft and was told not under any circumstances Microsoft do not call their customers and it was a scam, happened again a week later, just told them I was aware it was a scam and hung up.

Something that might help with so-called ‘survey’ calls. I always say I’m quite happy to answer their questions provided they understand I do not want any communication from those that I answer that I seem to be interested in. Often I don’t even get a ‘goodbye’!

Beekay says:
30 July 2014

I have registered my number with TPS, but still receive some calls. I deal with them in a simple way. Just take the call and press the mute button on the handset and continue with my job. Sometimes I keep the phone near to TV or near to the speaker of my audio system. So the caller can enjoy some music or so.

I know I should not but I say two words and the last one is off, it`s funny but I don`t hear from them again.

Be careful: some could react badly and be abusive and aggressive to you. Remember that they may have your address.

A good way of reducing the number of cold calls is to be careful where you give your number out. Since I removed my number from one particular site, cold calls are rare.

For sites that require a number to be put in before you can proceed, I give a false one.

Me says:
31 July 2014

When I answer the phone I tell cold callers that they are now through to the local CID.
They tend not to reply to that, and hang up. It’s been a while since I’ve had a call, I almost miss ’em…

Gillian says:
1 August 2014

I got a new one yesterday: I man from India asked me to type INS JUNK into my computer as there is some malware on the IP address of this computer which is affecting my neighbours computers. They will put it right.
I spun them a long story for twenty mins, got transferred to the manager Michael, as ” you don’t understand the threat you have got that I am trying to help you with” I have 2 phone nos:
61399997448 and when I queried the no of digits and lack of zero at the beginning, got:
0203 582 7199, which could be a genuine London no. I did not find out.
Finally I told them that I could not use the computer as my hands were covered in slippery clay (which was true) and they hung up.
Michael rang again this morning. I gave him a spiel about no altruistic companies, he would not do this unless he wanted my money. He did not understand (I don’t think his English was up to it) Finally I said don’t ring again and rang off.
I am waiting for the next call!
Apparently if you do type in INFO JUNK they can take over your computer and demand money for its return.


I had to laugh when I read your post. What a ridiculous story, my computer affecting my neighbours!

I am so glad that you wasted their time. I would not be as patient as you, although the temptation to do the same is great!

Please have some more fun with them at their expense.

Donald Fraser says:
1 August 2014

We were also bothered with unwanted phone calls, evan though on TPS. We bought a new phone by which you can programme in the type of call you do not want. As a result we have had no such calls since installing the new phone – purchased from BT. It does require you to have Caller ID.

Mrs. Julie Howarth says:
19 October 2014

I was like everyone else, fed up of the phone ringing at all times of day & evening, that was until I asked talktalk what could be done about it. Now it’s wonderful in fact it’s so good I had withdrawal symptoms the first week ha! ha! ha! Thank you TalkTalk.

Patricia Russell says:
11 November 2014

2 possible scams – 1) E-mail from Camborne Chrome Windows.
Hi Patricia We have your account please press if you do not wish for your details to be given to anyone else.

2) 5 PM 10th November.
Telephone call at 5.10 PM. 08001691008. Addressing me as Patricia
Claiming his firm represent a government scheme to reduce energy bills also BT bills.
Seems rather agitated when I did not respond to his request,

Thank you for this.

I hope that you have reported these two calls. The more of us who do, the more likely that the perpetrators will be fined.

Here is the link to find the right complaints form:


Call 1 reminds me of calls I’ve had that say, “Press 9 (say) to stop these calls.” I am always suspicious of this, but others may press the number without thinking.

Patricia Russell says:
15 November 2014

Received yet another suspicious telephone call at 1 PM this time from an international number.
A female found it highly amusing – followed by I want to inform you.

I rather have my ‘phone disconnected than put up with such nonsence

If not expecting a call I just knock them of f they do not ring back

If not expecting a call I lift receiver then put it straight down they do not try again.

Roland Barker says:
24 January 2015

I am getting calls by people saying they can guarantee to stop nuisance calls by putting us on a register, for which I pay some money (by card) I suppose, I told the last one it was a Con and she should get a proper job she did’t like me telling her what I thought and put the phone down on me. Some of these pretend to be from the Telephone Preference Service.