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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
Marney says:
19 November 2018

I have just had the second call in 4 days, a recorded message, asking if it is time I had my oven professionally cleaned. I hung up and dialled 1471. Got two different numbers, 0203 3567918, and 0203 22840437. When I rang the numbers to ask them to take my no. off their list, they were ‘incorrect numbers’. Would it have cost me if I had followed their instructions, to press different numbers on my phone?

Possibly, Marney. The call could have been diverted to an international destination with an exorbitant call charge and much time wasted accumulating costs plus no guarantee of any action to remove you from their lists – in fact the opposite: it would have confirmed your identity and status as an active landline subscriber allowing your number to be sold on to others.

The local newspapers and the internet are full of small adverts for oven cleaners so there is no need for anyone to accept a service via an unsolicited phone call; thank the caller for the reminder but terminate the call.

Yes it would Marney -either financially or even more calls etc.
Some autocalls divert to premium numbers, but once they know they have a “live one ” they sell on your details to other third parties.

Anne Davidson says:
6 December 2018

Does anyone know a company called K&P Callblock online. They are harassing my mother who has now stupidly paid them £150 and I cannot find anything about them online.

This is a hard one to locate including an Indian carpet manufacturer .
It might be a German computer company but it looks too prestige for harassing calls also there is a holding company in Bermuda on the Hong Kong stock exchange but I was warned not to click on it .
Many more but none dealing in callblockers .
It could be a fake company Anne I will keep, looking unless they told your mum where they are located ?
What was the telephone number ?

DerekP says:
6 December 2018

Anne / Duncan

I wonder if K&P is just a made up name for scam purposes.

See also here:

saga.co.uk/magazine/money/spending/consumer-rights/the-fake-telephone-preference-service-scam

Anne – if you’re mother set up a direct debit and you’ve not yet cancelled it, it looks like you should do that ASAP.

Hi Anne,

My in-laws have been plagued by these scam companies that claim to stop nuisance calls, where in reality they *are* the nuisance calls.
I can see a recent charge on their bank account for ‘K&P*Callblock Online MOT’ on their account for £159. I have absolutely no doubt that they are scammers.

I have successfully put a halt to these calls using the trueCall Call Blocker. It is the real thing that does what these other companies claim. Check out http://www.truecall.co.uk. The Dragons in the den fought over the chance to invest in this. It really works. I can see it’s blocked over 40 cold callers in the last 10 days! You can even install a memory card to have it record conversations so you can later check on what was really said.

Cheers,
Mark

Hi Anne,

I have absolutely no doubt they are a scam company. I see a similar charge for £159 on my in-laws bank statement, and they have been plagued by these fraudsters who tell them they will prevent nuisance calls, when in fact they _are_ the nuisance call.

We have put a stop to this for our in-laws. We bought and installed a trueCall Call Blocker. It actually does what these scam companies claim they do. It is hugely configurable but the default setting worked well. It answers first, before the house phone rings, and asks the person to announce their name and press #. Most cold callers just hang up. You can program in known friends and family numbers so they are let straight through. You can view all actively via the internet, and you can buy a memory card which will record all conversations if you want absolutely clarity on what was said by whom. http://www.truecall.co.uk. Apparently all the Dragons in the den wanted to invest in it.

I hope you are able to restore peace and calm for your mother.

All the best,
Mark

Emma says:
19 March 2019

Hi did you ever manage to get a contact number number for this company same thing has happened to my grandad and I’m ready to let Rip with the bunch of scammers

Bernard Calland says:
11 February 2019

I have just received a variant. Call Protection advised that I had paid £99.00 in 2017 to prevent Nuisance calls. They wanted to know if I wanted to join their scheme for stopping unwanted mail. I advised I had not paid them anything in 2017, in any event if I had, they had not carried out their service and I wanted the money I had not paid back.

Bob says:
21 May 2019

Call from Telephone Preference Management wanting the following details. Confirmation of name, full address, if the phone line was in my name, did I pay by Direct Debit, date of last payment, expiry date of bank card. The man on the phone would not give me his name but was willing to give me his bank card details. The only address details he would give was Central London. When I asked him to repeat the company name he gave Telephone Preference Management Services and when I pointed out it was different to the original he rang off. [This comment has been edited to remove personal information. Community guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines. You can report the number here: https://www.which.co.uk/tools/report-a-call-or-text/ ]