/ Technology

Scam watch: nuisance callers pretending to be the TPS

Telephone with scamwatch email

After registering with the Telephone Preference Service, Chris had a call from a similar-sounding firm asking for his bank details to renew his subscription – but he soon realised he was close to falling for a scam…

Chris told us: After receiving around two-dozen cold sales calls a week, I signed up for the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The number of calls dropped significantly. However, I recently received a call from a company with a very similar-sounding name, and a well-spoken woman said my cover had run out.

She said I could renew it for £69 for three years or £79 for lifetime cover, and all she needed was my bank details. I told her I never give out such information over the phone and she instantly rang off. I suspect this is a scam aimed at those who have registered with the TPS. The subtle alteration of the name is easily missed, and I was within an ace of falling for it.

Our advice for Chris

The TPS is a free service, and it won’t ever call to ask you for personal details. There are companies that claim to stop nuisance calls often, ironically, using cold-calls to sell their services. And some of these are scams.

While the TPS is far from perfect, and people registered with it still receive far too many nuisance calls, we don’t believe it’s worth paying another firm for these services.

The TPS is the only register that companies are legally obliged to check against before making sales calls.

If you’re already registered with the TPS and still find that you’re receiving nuisance calls, you could consider purchasing a call-blocker device. If you receive a scam call, alert Trading Standards.

Have you received a cold call from a company claiming to be the TPS or a similar service? How did you deal with the call and do you have any tips you can share?

John Blackford says:
24 May 2014

After registering with TPS, my wife was asleep on our settee one afternoon when the phone rang. They said that she had been receiving nuisance calls and had registered to stop receiving them, and they could prevent any future nuisance calls for the sum of £1.82, and because my wife was just awakening from sleep after a very active day she somehow was conned into giving her debit card details to these people – the Secure Telephone Service.
Two days later her bank account was debited with £74.99. When he rang them to complain about this she was told that she had agreed on the phone to this amount being debited, and it was equivalent to £1.82 a month for 42 months, the length of the contract, thus the aforementioned amount of £1.82, which is the only amount that she remembers being mentioned.
She asked for the service to be cancelled and the money to be refunded, as she is entitled to this, and was promised a full refund, which we are now awaiting, obviously refunds are not dealt with as quickly as debits are!

I also received a call giving the same information, after asking how much this service cost they asked me if I would like to proceed, I said No I will carry on dealing with the calls my self, she asked me what that was. I told her I have a whistle and use it when nessasary, normally my calls are cut short.

Patrick Ellis. says:
17 October 2014

What I good idea…. I think I will blow my hunting horn!!!

In his introduction, Joe wrote: “If you’re already registered with the TPS and still find that you’re receiving nuisance calls, you could consider purchasing a call-blocker device.”

It is not this simple, as many people have explained in other Conversations. Anyone considering buying one of these devices should explore these Conversations and find out about the drawbacks.


“you could consider purchasing a call-blocker device.” So you want people to spend money on trying to stop cold-callers?

I myself do not agree at all with spending money on call-blockers.

Has anyone considered that the TPS has a leak and that it is not just coincidence that members are contacted after registering by a similar sounding organisation?

I wonder if Chris did a 1471 to see what the callers number was. Although until the powers that be “sleeping on the job” wake up and clamp down on number spoofing I would expect any smart scammer to use the TPSs own number.

Caller ID spoofing and how it happens.

Rosie says:
9 June 2014

I know someone who had a similar call. The woman also said you debit card details begin with XXXX, the person checked and thought they must have her bank details , and got worried. The caller said they would call back. (victim said she had to do something first, but went and did some checking- found out the numbers on the card were the same for certain banks. So they were trying to catch people out into thinking they had already given the details before.) The caller did ring back I think they must have got an earfull and a big NO!

Susie S says:
26 September 2014

This aftenoon my 90 year old mother in law had a call from Telecom Protection Service ( she already has the real TPS) she thought they were from BT they were very friendly and said had she had alot of nuisance calls recently and she said she had – would you like them stopped? she said she would they charged her £99.99 to block them for life..she gave her card details including the security digits on the back of the card..she then realised she had probably made a mistake and called me. I phoned the company and asked them to cancel the arrangement they said they would but I wasn’t happy. I called her bank,then spoke to the fraud dept. I have been told that since it was a retail dispute nothing could be done and they couldn’t stop the payment. I emailed the company and asked then to send me a confirmation that it was cancelled, We now have to wait and I understand that if the company sends out a box to attach to the phone we won;t be able to get a refund!!

Currently the Telecom Preference Service website is marked as being owned by a non Trading UK Individual. So I wrote to nominet that its clearly isn’t this is there response.

Thank you for contacting us regarding the telecompreferenceservice dot co dot uk domain name. You have informed us that you believe that the domain name is incorrectly opted out of the WHOIS. We have investigated telecompreferenceservice dot co dot uk and have issued notice to the registrant and registrar that the address details for the domain name will be opted in to the WHOIS unless changes are made so that the domain name meets the opt-out criteria.

Well done william. If I could give multiple thumbs up I would.

I would buy you a drink also if were to meet.

Thanks, although in the grand scheme of things it’s probably only a minor nuisance to the person listed as owning that website. All their company details are already on the website. Although I don’t know how accurate they are.

I wonder why the real TPS aren’t being more proactive in getting that site closed down.

The TPS is a free service that is effective at stopping live unsolicited sales and marketing calls from reputable UK-based companies. We never charge for the service or make unsolicited calls to people. Once you register a mobile or landline number it remains registered for good.

We are aware of a number of different “bogus TPS” companies or commercial alternatives to TPS that make calls to people registered on TPS. The caller usually tries to sell a call blocker or sometimes claim to offer a similar or more enhanced service to the TPS for a fee and they make exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness of these products. These companies are unregulated commercial organisations some may even be outright scams. The rise in TPS complaints has been matched by the increase in the number of these companies who are trying to take advantage or people receiving nuisance calls. Our advice is to never buy anything from a company that made an illegal call to contact you.

We have taken legal action against a number of these companies. The TPS website has an area dedicated to advising people about this issue and we regularly share information with the regulators (Ofcom and the Information Commissioners Office (ISO)) about these companies.

If you are registered on TPS and you receive a live sales and marketing call for which you have not given your permission you can complain to us at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk

Why should anyone have to take action to avoid receiving unsolicited phone calls?

I want to see unsolicited phone calls made illegal. Until then, I make a point of not buying goods or services from companies that phone me, unless I am a current customer, so calls are counterproductive. The same applies to doorstep sales, and I am not keen on junk mail either.

The only way that I would approve of telephone marketing is if it was strictly opt-in.

Why are private companies and sole traders allowed to use official sounding names like Telecom Protection Service? That’s part of the problem.

Patrick Ellis. says:
17 October 2014

I like the whistle idea!!! I think I will blow my hunting horn at ’em the next one I get one!!! I am 84 and detest having to get up out of my chair and answer it in case it is one of the family….

This evening I received a call from a woman saying she was from TPS and was I still receiving unsolicited calls…she then told me my name address, telephone number etc and said that when I registered with TPS my debit card expired 03-16…..I said that was not correct…she then asked when my debit card expired….I stupidly told her the date…she then asked for the long number across the card…I refused and asked why…she then said she would pass me on to her superior who again asked for the long number on my card…..I refused and when he repeated they were from TPS I insisted that I only had their word for that and why did they want my card details…..the woman then chipped in saying when have TPS ever taken any money from account …and that they were not asking for my account number…the conversation got very heated and my gut instinct told me it was a scam…I said if they really needed to contact me they could write to me……I m certain this is a scam…has anyone else had a similar call? I probably need to add that their accents were Indian…..and please do not think I am being racist…its just the facts