/ 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
ROBERT CROMBIE says:
20 February 2018

I received 2 calls today from someone at the Telephone Prefernce Management not service who knew my address post code and part debit card details they asked if I could confirm the card expiry and i gave them false information which they said matched their records.They had the last 4 digits of my card and wanted the preceding ones and the 3 digit back number on the back of the card the card which I refused.
. He was Indian or Pakistan spoken
I told him it was a scam he just hung up on me
hours earlier a lady called wanting the same information

Guest

There are now a large number of people who are called by these scammers who have had the last four digits of their card revealed to try and convince those called they are genuine . This is down to lax security as many UK organisations display the last four digits on their computer screens in call centres as a means of verifying who you are . How do I know this ? because I use a phone service to order stuff from a certain supplier and among the other question it includes asking what the last card number is . I queried that till they admitted that those last four numbers are displayed on everybody,s computer screen but NOT the previous numbers which the company block from call centre staff . Obviously they dont pay the call centre staff enough in this country to be loyal to their bosses or hacking is easy .

Guest
C Raig says:
6 March 2018

Me too. Cold call from TPMgt said he wanted to revalidate my TPS details. Said his name was Mike Williams based in West london but sounded very Indian/Pakistani. His JOB ID he gave me was UK067 His telephone number was 0203 02036305 547. He knew my name /address/ postcode and then asked if i pay by DD, when I said that is noe of your business he hung up !

Guest
Susan Hill says:
27 March 2018

I’ve just had a call from them and he asked me the same questions as you and when asked if I pay by DD I went and said yes then he hung up. I worried now what can I do? Any help would be gratefully received.

Guest

Susan, the Telephone Preference Service is free, so if you are paying for it you might have already been scammed and they are coming back to scam you again.

If they call you back, don’t give them any more information. If they realise you know they are scammers and won’t get any more money out of you, they usually leave you alone.

If you have the phone number they called you on, search it on google and see if there is any info on it.

If you are worried about your debit card, get it cancelled and a new one issued to put your mind at rest.

Guest
Ann Rogerson says:
22 February 2018

I’ve had 6 calls in the last 2 days from telephone preference management. They don’t take no for an answer when I said this is a scam, they just keep on talking. The number displayed is 01525510009 or sometimes ends with a 2. I am registered with the genuine service, but still calls get through.

Guest
Marnie Court says:
4 March 2018

Telephone Preference Management called my 81yr old Mother and asked for her sort code and account number – “not sensitive information – just for identification purposes”. She kept on telling them she didn’t understand why they were calling, and they said that with the new data protection laws she would be in hot water legally if she didn’t do what they were explaining, and they were particularly trying to help pensioners. Three times she hung up on them – scumbags. Police were informed.

Guest

That’s a new one – exploiting the new General Data Protection Regulations to elicit people’s personal information.

I hope the Information Commissioner’s Office is alerted to this ruse and that they will publish warnings to the public that the new rules do not authorise or require any organisation to contact people with a request for their private details.

Until cold-calling is totally eliminated this problem will just carry on escalating. If technology cannot do this for us there needs to be a massive publicity campaign across all media, by direct mail from the telecom companies to their subscribers, in every waiting room, in every magazine, in every shop, on every TV channel, and through the political parties to all their members.