/ 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.

Guest

Technology CAN do it John but it requires government legislation to force Telephone companies to comply . think on John two years ago the Snooper,s Charter was carried secretly (nearly ) through Parliament in a few short months to stop any debate “national security ” was used as an excuse . Dont you realise that Snoopers Charter allows ALL UK data from EVERY sources and I mean EVERY source to be collected by GCHQ ? those punters in there watching their big LCD screens in their jeans+ slip -ons / casual shirts ( I have a photo of them ) can TRACE back ANYBODY so dont anybody tell me -“impossible ” I will NOT believe you or anybody else .

Guest

I am sure you are right, Duncan. We have ships on the high seas that can intercept telephone signals from three thousand miles away so it can obviously be done. We are probably the masters of interception, but it is the recognition of a cold call that probably defeats the system unless the caller ID is already logged and has not been over-written. I realise calls can be traced backwards but spotting and trapping the incoming marauders is the tricky bit.

Telecom companies won’t do anything unless they are paid to or it is in their commercial interests [as BT clearly believes with its call-blocker facility]. I am critical of the government for blowing hot and cold on this and constantly side-lining it to Ofcom or the ICO. Now that scammers are exploiting the GDPR it has reached another, and more cynical, level.

I am a great supporter of GCHQ, by the way, since I have nothing to fear from its surveillance.

Guest

My ‘Account Manager’ has called asking me to confirm my account details. I haven’t been able to getting anything meaningful out of them as to what account they are on about. They manage to mumble something with a few valid sounding words but are so vague and usually hang up too quickly when they realise they are rumbled.

How many years ago did we call for all cold calling to be made illegal?

Guest

It is illegal, Alfa, but the law appears to be unenforceable for calls originating outside the UK.

Some heavy fines have been levied on UK cold-calling offenders by the ICO but whether they have been paid I know not.

Guest
Not an Idiot says:
22 February 2018

I was called 8 times today from 01525510009 who hung up each time I answered the phone. A couple of my friends had calls from the same number too and the callers said they were from BT, TPS and Microsoft and wanted card, bank details. Total con artists . Block them.

Guest

Do not listen at all CUT them OFF immediately You are not offending them because they have just offended you by calling you If you listen and answer they believe they are on a winner and will keep on trying time after time

Guest
P. T says:
20 March 2018

We have received 6.calls over 2 days, requesting we update our records with TPS,when I declined the offer, suggesting it was a scam, and refused to give them any details, I was told, he hoped, I would enjoy the many Nuisance calls I would now receive, his number was 01487300024

Guest
J C says:
24 March 2018

Just been called by TPS scammer. I got their supposed number and said I would call them back with my details: 0203 587 6799.
I asked how I would know that he wasn’t a scammer but he didn’t (apparently) get the joke.

Guest
E Lewis says:
27 March 2018

I was called yesterday ,and told they were TPS, and they said I paid £6 _ £7 a month for the service. When I said it was free they said it was paid via my virgin account. They also said could I confirm my expiry date on my debit card, they knew the date, I stupidly said yes. Can they get to my bank account from knowing my expiry date.? I’ve called virgin and they said it was a scam, but I can’t see what they can do with just my expiry date.

Guest

E. Lewis- unless they already have your account number, exp.date and the 3 digits on the back , then no they dont have access to your bank account . It sounds like a Phishing scam trying to get as much card details as possible . It a confidence building trick to get you to think they are official then they ask for more information to “confirm ” your card details.

Guest

If you are worried E Lewis, ask for your debit card to be cancelled and a new one issued.

Guest
Glenda saward says:
28 March 2018

2 days ago I was phoned by Callum from call management. He said I was due to pay £149 When I refused to pay he said I verbally signed up in November 2016. He threatened me with passing it over to debt management unless I paid up. He said I had received a contract. I told him I had nothing. I was speaking very calmly to him I asked to receive information in the post but he again refused to do anything saying I was being obstructive and unless I paid the money he will be passing it to the debt management team again and I will get a ccj against my name. The only person who was very threatening was this Callum from call management. There was no number as the number calling was withheld.

Guest

These scammers get worse and unfortunately, people will be frightened into paying up.

Guest
J Peasemold says:
28 March 2018

I received a call this afternoon from a female purporting to be from Telephone Preference Management saying I’d signed up for the service in 2011. It’s only because she used the name of someone no longer at this address I knew she was talking rubbish. I asked if she was TPS and she made it very clear that TPM is a different company. I said I’d need to check the dates and call back. She gave me a telephone number to call back on of 02036211313. I checked and 621 is for Shoreditch. She said she is based in West London. No fee was discussed. She tried her very best to BS her way through my questions before I said I’d phone back. I kept her talking as long as possible to waste as much time as I could

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Guest
J Peasemold says:
28 March 2018

Had a call from a female with a very strong asian accent allegedly calling from Telephone Preference Management saying I’d signed up for the service in 2011 and asking for someone who no longer lives here, so I knew it was rubbish. I said I’d need to check the date and she gave me a number saying she is based in West London of 0203 621 1316. This is actually a Shoreditch code…..when I checked whether she was from TPS she said that was a completely different organisation, so they’ve done their research.

Guest

Have I been cold called by TPS BT or anyone else ? I would not know because I NEVER answer calls from UNKNOWN numbers Sometimes WITHHELD but by appointment only I need to know the exact time I NEVER rust to answer stopping doing anything but check to see who has rung later the if it is a known caller I call them back Caller Display must be made a free service for everyone but I now pay the small charge willingly knowing that I can see just who is calling and then know if I need to answer or ignore Some thing for WHICH to push for free Caller Display

Guest
KP says:
Today 15:34

Had a cold call from what sounded like an Indian woman claiming to be about blocking cold calls. Did not ask me to confirm many details for registration but then passed me onto her supervisor to confirm registration. He askedreminded me that I pay my phone bill by direct debit and then quoted an expiry date year on a certain credit card. I agreed that sounded right. (IT WAS NOT)I was a bit vague in my answers and so he reminded me that this was the small plastic card. He started to ask me for the security number. I told him that I never give out card details. After a couple of soft attempts to persuade me, he gave up and said goodbye.
A different approach than I have had by previous scammers but I am sure this could easily catch someone out.