/ 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
Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Since I contacted BT on the ‘phone complaining about nuisance calls and a sudden unwarranted email address change I have received no more nuisance calls. BT reported that I may have been a victim of hacking and advised that I change my password with them and this seems to have worked. The email address was far more complicated however and took about 4 days to revert back to the original.

Member
Chris says:
24 February 2017

I had a call from Telephone Preference Management, Bristol. They claim to have been given my number by TPS (Telephone Preference Service) in order to sell me a device, recommended by TPS, to block sales calls. The call came from 01909 474856, which is a photography company in Nottinghamshire.

Member
Ian says:
4 March 2017

The call is a scam. Numerous such companies are doing this. The irony of what they are doing (making nuisance calls claiming to be able to stop nuisance calls) is lost on them.

TPS does not pass on details. TPS is free.

Member
Michael says:
6 March 2017

I also had a call from a lady claiming to be from Telephone Preference Management. According to her I was already registered with them. Was I still receiving nuisance calls? Yes. Well, they could do something about that. I needed to re-register. She read out details of name and address. At that point I observed that I had no recollection of giving my details to her company and that in any case I would have been in touch with British Telecom to arrange for their TPS. The call was immediately terminated…..

Member
Julie Brown says:
11 March 2017

CPS claim to be linked with TPS but do stuff TPS doesn’t

Member
Tony Brown says:
15 March 2017

Just had a call from someone claiming to be from TPS and informing me that I had a years subscription to them at a cost of £150 and they would use a credit card of mine. The last four numbers were correct but where they got them I do not know. The card is now history but it goes to show how careful we have to be.

Member
Terry Whiting says:
22 March 2017

Just dealt with a call claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service with a telephone number 01607418088 by a woman claiming to be Sarah Jones with an ID 0078. She asked if I still received nuisance calls. She knew my name, my full address including postcode. She then asked me to confirm that my credit card expired on a certain month and year. I told her that I never divulge any such information by telephone. She said that I should verify that her call was genuine by ringing TPS direct on 02036300351. AN OBVIOUS SCAM.
T W.

Member
Christine Connolly says:
23 March 2017

I had two very insistent calls from the same telephone number, it was a man. I hung up when he started talking about Direct Debit payments. These scams need stopping.

Member
susan aubrey says:
22 April 2017

I had a phone call from that same number yesterday, a Jane Smith, wanting my bank sort code and account number saying that she needed the account from which my direct debit for the phone line came from, she never got the info she wanted.

Member
Steve Suffolk says:
30 March 2017

I had a call from telephone preference management 01607418088 claiming they were the authorised uk call blockers..an obvious scam. They try to suck you in by offering their “services” for “free” and get quite angry when you ask a question back to them.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Its from India Steve , multiple complaints , nothing to do with TPS ,probably getting fed up with saying they are BT and getting a rude response from Brits , they think they can “outsmart ” us .

Member
Denise says:
3 April 2017

Just had a call from CPS they knew my name and full address said they got it from TPS she then went on to ask was I still getting nuscience calls and she needed my debit card detail to update as it was coming to its expire date and I qualified for life time use of CPS and TPS and it was government backed I asked where she got my card details from ( which I’m guessing she didn’t have ) as the TPS is free and I don’t give out details over the phone luckily I knew straight away it’s a scam but elderly people may not think this as she was quite convincing , in the end I said yes I am still getting nusciense calls and you are one of them funnily the phone went dead .

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

One thing is certain Denise I am sure they did well in their -Modern History of the British Government Departmental Policies ( 1970-2017 )–in their Indian education

Member
WilliamB says:
3 April 2017

An almost unintelligible foreign-sounding woman, claimed–when at last I had laboriously discovered whom she claimed to represent–that it was “Calls Prevention Service”. From where, I asked “of UK” was the reply. Further enquiry elicited the reply that they run a call-blocking service.. “What would it cost me?” I asked. She rang off… BT 1471 said “we do not have the caller’s number”, which usually means its from abroad. No doubt further nuisance calls from alleged nuisance-call-blockers will follow

Member
Millie says:
3 April 2017

Had a call (on our works number!) from 01607 418000, claimed to be from the Telephone Preference Management Service and knew details about an old house of ours. Hung up before I had chance to check out whether they were kosher or not, which speaks for itself really. Scam I reckon looking at the above comments.

Member
Lin says:
7 April 2017

I had a call from a foreign accented man claiming to be from Telephone Preference Management, the same as one of the previous contributors – he asked me to confirm that I pay my phone bill by Direct Debit which alerted me that this may be a scam. I did not reply to his question but asked him to put it all in writing, which of course he couldn’t do so I terminated the call. He also got angry when I questioned him about his company name, etc. Seems that this company needs seriously investigating.

Member
Roland says:
13 April 2017

I have received at least one call a day for several weeks from the so-called “Telephone Prevention Service”, with callers identifying themselves with English-type first names, but with fairly pronounced South Asian accents. I tell them I know they are scammers and put the phone down, but they keep coming back every day. 1471 reports the caller number as 00 39 335 663 4768. The country code is Italy but probably being rerouted. I’m really tired of this and gradually escalating the level of the language I use when telling them to get lost, but it makes no difference. Any suggestions?

Member
Richard says:
17 April 2017

Ive just had a call from CPS again asking for confirmation of CC details and saying they can stop nuisance calls.

Member
Lesley says:
21 April 2017

Just been telephoned today by a company which professes to be ‘Telephone Preference Management’, asking me to confirm my name and post code…..albeit a very out of date post code…….which I didn’t correct. She then asked if I was getting nuisance calls – yes, lots in recent weeks (probably from them trying to create the right response to this call). She then wanted confirmation of payment of my telephone bill by DD (irrelevant to whom) and the expiration date of my visa card. She told me to check the latter but I just answered, “no, no that’s right. ” This bothered her and her comprehension of the English language was poor so, without explanation, she put a man on. All very unprofessional and obviously a scam, but I decided to wait until a charge for the service was mentioned………at which point I laughed and told them they wouldn’t get anything out of me.
Strong Asian accents with English names. Felt tempted to answer with the odd Hindi word I know, but then they might have been calling (poor line, suspect a mobile) from Bangalore.

Member
Steve Freckingham says:
21 April 2017

My mother has been scammed by the so called “Telephone Preference Service.” She is 89, partially sighted, has a very poor short term memory and forgets all the advice I and my sister have given her about phone calls from anyone other than family or friends. A Maidenhead company called Zoom Telecom had apparently taken £71.00 out of her account in February and also set up a direct debit over the phone. We cancelled the direct debit but the money had been taken as a card payment. I contacted Zoom Telecom on their expensive phone number and was eventually put through to an Asian woman who said she was with TPS. She told me that the £71.00 was a one off payment for a lifetime nuisance call blocking service which my mum had signed up for in September 2015. Of course my mum had no knowledge of this. In March she received a piece of black plastic junk purporting to be a call blocker which may as well have been moon rock as far as my mum was concerned. The instructions on a flimsy piece of paper were written in a totally indecipherable style of Chinese English. A google search revealed that the items could be bought wholesale from China or somewhere in Asia for about £6.50! I explained this to the TPS “employee” and demanded an immediate refund of the “stolen” £71.00″ No joy to date. A couple of weeks ago an Asian man rang and asked my mum for the end date of her debit card. I spoke to her bank’s fraud dept who fortunately found no dodgy transactions on her account. I rang Zoom again on their Technical Advice number which with an 02030 area code should be free and asked to be put through to TPS. Strangely I was and once again spoke to an Asian woman who sounded like the one I had spoken to before. She quickly found my mum’s details and told me that the finance section were processing her refund. I was not asked for any card details so I wondered how this was going to occur. I was confused. Was TPS really providing a genuine service? Had the recent dodgy call just been a coincidence? The answer to both questions is no. Yesterday the man rang again asking for more card information, telling my mum the service was up and running and that she now owed a further £82.00. Fortunately on this occasion my mum was not forthcoming and put the phone down. An hour later her bank’s fraud dept rang her to say they had blocked a suspicious transaction on her account. The bank have also cancelled her debit card. This will be the second time this has happened in the last four months as in December she gave her 16 digit debit card number to a Sky Box Insurance scammer. She hadn’t remembered that she already had a bona fide, although unnecessary policy of this type, in place. Why are Zoom Telecom an apparently genuine business broadband provider fronting these criminals and how the hell do you shake these scamming scumbags off??

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

I am really worried about your post Steve , are you saying your mother,s telephone is being diverted to a scammer ?? this is deadly serious and should be reported at once to the police . I have the number I think you mean and the address of the said telephone “service ” company “helping ” businesses with telecommunications , it seems to be an upfront company and I dont see any complaints about the number on the usual websites I use to check numbers out . Is your mum,s phone a landline or a smartphone/mobile ? If a smartphone I know they can be hacked but its very unusual for a landline to be hacked that would require the exchange equipment to be interfered with , so can you tell me what company your mum,s landline is with ? If BT then personally ,I have not come across this as BT are very good with security but not others. Dont leave this Steve its too serious.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

I personally believe Steve should investigate an Ordinary or Lasting Power of Attorney. Plenty of details here:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/looking-after-people/managing-affairs-for-someone-else/