/ Technology

Have you been cold called by a TPS scam?

TPS scam cartoon

If nuisance calls make your life a misery you may be tempted to turn to one of the many commercial companies that promise to help. They make bold claims, but you should take these with a handful of salt…

Almost all of us have had our evenings interrupted by nuisance calls promising to reclaim our PPI or get us a better mobile phone deal. Signing up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is meant to stop unsolicited marketing calls, but it doesn’t always work. This is why we launched our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls & Texts campaign to tackle the problem.

The fact that almost all of us are bombarded with nuisance calls means it’s no surprise dozens of companies have sprung up claiming that they can stop these calls – for a fee.

Promises to tackle nuisance calls

Many of these companies ironically use cold calling to sell their services. Some of these are straightforward scams. Overseas companies call claiming to work for the TPS, or a similar-sounding organisation, and ask for personal information or credit card details. Never give these out – the TPS is a free service and will never ask for personal details.

Other companies cold call you selling call blockers that connect to your phone. These aren’t scams – blockers can be effective – but it’s often not clear who you’re speaking to or what you’re buying.

One Which? member told us that he was offered a call blocker from the official-sounding Telecom Protection Service for 50p a day. That works out at over £180/year. Meanwhile another member bought a blocker from a different company only to find out that it interfered with his phone line and broadband connection. Three months later he’s still waiting for his money back.

A number of companies, including CPR Global, Stop These Calls and the Telecom Preference Service (another name for the aforementioned Telecom Protection Service) also offer call-prevention services. They claim that for around £40 a year they can stop nuisance calls by circulating their own do-not-call lists. It sounds appealing, but the official TPS has told us that these companies make ‘exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of their service’, while Ofcom is investigating potentially misleading claims on one company’s website.

Exaggerated claims to stop cold calls

Our research confirms the TPS’s view – these companies do make exaggerated claims.

They boast about the effectiveness of their do-not-call lists, but the major UK marketing companies we spoke to only use the official TPS list. And while they promise to ‘eliminate’ overseas calls, we can’t see how that’s possible. Some companies also disparage the TPS, claiming that it’ll sell your data (it won’t) and that you can’t complain to it about the companies that call you (you can).

It’s true that the TPS is far from perfect and people registered with it still receive far too many nuisance calls. However, we fail to see how commercial organisations can be much more effective and don’t believe that it’s worth paying for their services.

Instead, if you’re already registered with the TPS and are still disturbed by nuisance calls, then rather than paying to join another register, we’d recommend spending the money on a physical call blocker. CPR Global actually offers one that received a favourable review from Which? members in a hands-on trial last year, as did a more sophisticated, and expensive, model from TrueCall. Alternatively, some new home phones offer a call blocking facility, and with prices starting for as little as £40, they can be great value.

We’re also working with the government and regulators to call time on nuisance calls and texts, which you can support by joining 110,000 others by signing our petition.

Have you been called by one of these companies? Did you part with money for their services? How have you found them?

Comments
Guest
Jackie says:
6 October 2017

have had three phone calls, in the last two days claiming to come from a phone nuisance prevention company telling me they are offering an up grade free of charge , and then ask for my bank card details , having stated that they have my card detail , when I refuse to give them details and they start saying its to prove who I am really||| , I hang up, the last one today , he rang back ,cant believe what part of I’m not interested they don’t understand , I am a 79 year old but still on the ball ,unfortunately there are many elderly people who are not , is there really nothing can be done to stop this

Guest
Cherimoya says:
6 October 2017

I received a call today from a woman claiming to be from ‘Telephone Preference Management’, telling me my service was ending soon and could she get my new card expiry date to renew. She knew my name, postal address and I believe she even had the last 4 digits of my card. I am signed up to TPS but as I know this is a free service I was pretty sure she was trying to scam me. I asked for her company postal address and telephone number, she gave me the postal address that others have received – 70 Marlborough/Margaret Street (her accent made it harder to hear) in West London, but she refused to give me a telephone number without me giving her my card expiry date first, which was absolutely not going to happen. Eventually she gave up and ended the call.

It’s a bit worrying that they seemed to have some of my card details already, and it’s very annoying that I can’t think of any way that it’s possible to identify and catch them, since they can just give out fake information anyway. Does anyone know how it can be stopped?

Guest
A Wathen says:
9 October 2017

I have avoided the calls to date but then spoke to someone today and had a similar experience from “Telephone Preference Management”. They were pushy and knew my postcode and when one of my bank cards expired (although one of them said in 2018 and one of the people said 2017 – so I sense they are luck guessing!) and wanted to “help” me to ensure that I don’t get any more nuisance calls and I should “update my security with them”. I’m not even sure that the people phoning me know that they are/aren’t legitimate as the lady put me on to her manager who was quite insistent that he was helping me. I said I wanted them to remove me from their call list but they said they could only do that once they had updated the security with me. A very frustrating circular conversation where I felt pressurised to give them details in order to get them off the phone. I said I was sorry but I didn’t trust them and couldn’t give them any information to try and end the call. If I had been less sure I think they could be quit intimidating even though they weren’t rude. They clearly have a lot of people working on this as it was very noisy in the background and the woman was shouting to be heard.

The number they called from was 004795070423, which of course, when I phoned back didn’t work.

Guest
Zakariya Butt says:
18 October 2017

Had a call from this company yesterday using this name. I told them I was not Interested it got so bad I put the phone down. He phoned me 3 times afterwards laughing at me. Just had another call from the same guy and he said ” are you sorry for yesterday? ” I again asked him to leave me alone and he threatened me saying he could find me and see me… I’ve never known anything like this. I’m now ringing my phone provider to change my number.

Tried ringing this number back and it’s a dead tone. HAD ENOUGH!!

Guest

We have been receiving a number of Recorded Message calls. The message claims to be from HMRC and advises that you get a solicitor to call their number (020 3129 3857) immediately. Failure to do so could result in serious penalties.
The Which? page for reporting such calls recommends using Action Fraud – but the questions there ask you have much you have lost, and do not accept “5 minutes” as an answer. If you have not lost cash, the questions do not really make sense.
The calls are nasty and threatening (although they end by wishing you a nice day).

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Guest

Ian- this type of call is an “American export ” as they have been getting those types of calls for years . Unfortunately we don’t have the same government attention as the Americans have who employ high power Federal Services to catch them . Unlike this country saying “it cant be done ” doesn’t work” over there because they have the spy type facilities to catch the crooks , we just wont employ them nor block them because it could effect businesses in this country and overseas.

Guest
Anne says:
20 October 2017

Just had such a call a few minutes ago. They said the were the ‘Official Telephone Preference Service’ regulated by the Government. All good so far. He knew my Number and my Address and asked me to confirm that I paid by direct debit. That was all the information I was going to give them., He tried to tell me that the Visa Debit Card I paid with was due to expire and wanted me to confirm that I had Debit Card since last year. I said that was not relevant as TPS is free. HE said he knew that and he wouldn’t charge me. He just needed to confirm my Debit Card Details. I said I didn’t pay by Debit Card just direct through the bank. He then said he understood that but would need by CREDIT CARD number instead, any one would do, to ensure that the service would renew properly tomorrow. I am no fool so should have hung up, but I was curious at what he was trying to do. He started to get very forceful and said I must give him first the expiry dates for y Card. I said no – it wasn’t a chargeable service, but he was determined. SO I said no most emphatically not and that I would contact the TPS myself. He hung up. His number from 1471 is: 02080028725 and sounded Indian. I hope I have not been charged for receiving the call !

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Guest

You haven’t been charged for receiving the call Anne.