Posts Tagged tellows

Masters of Dis-Gas? – scam callers masquerading as UK energy providers!

The scam under discussion this week is a convincing one – so convincing, in fact, that they almost had us fooled. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

The caller claims to be from British Gas, calling for an array of reasons – paying your overdue bill, arranging a maintenance visit, etc. etc – and from more than one number. The area code indicates that the calls are coming from Leeds.

The most common calls are supposedly from the ‘Arrears Department’ at British Gas, wanting you to pay up. One user tells us it’s Capita, a debt collection company in Leeds, phoning on behalf of British Gas. However, some of you have smelt a rat. Here’s a comment about 01132989890:

When I answered, it was a recorded message: press any number for an important message about my bill. I didn’t press anything and it went on to say that my gas meter reading was due within the next week. British Gas email me about meter readings and this is about a month too early! Be wary!

And a comment about 01132989000:

Have had more than 10 calls from this number about non-payment of my latest bill… mighty strange as i have never given them my mobile number and left British Gas several years ago.

People who have never even been with British Gas also seem to receive calls from this number. Indeed, one user living in a remote village where British Gas is not actually available was contacted.

The sleuthier among you have attempted to call the number back, only to find that lo and behold, the number is not recognised.

This is where it gets confusing. Whilst some of you have also cleverly given British Gas a ring directly to ask what’s going on, some of you report being told that this number belongs to an offshore service of theirs, whilst others were told that it isn’t! What to believe?

We tried searching on this handy page:
http://www.britishgas.co.uk/help-and-advice/contactus-personal-details/did-we-call-you.html
The search service did not seem to recognise 01132989000 or 01132989890 as belonging to British Gas, which is suspicious in itself. Some of your experiences with this caller further indicate that this is a number to be wary of: one call started with the caller asking to speak to the ‘laptop owner’ and a receptionist from a doctor’s surgery also reports being hounded by this number on the surgery line.

We’re dubious about this one. If you get a call from this number, or any other unrecognised number claiming to be British Gas, we strongly advise using the link above, or contacting British Gas directly. Under no circumstances should you give your bank details out unless you are absolutely certain of a caller’s identity!

Keep your wits about you and have a great week!

Your tellows team

, , , , ,

1 Comment

When a Stranger Calls: The Top 5 Most Annoying Numbers of the Week

Dear friends of tellows,

as autumn settles in and leaves start to change their color, unfortunately, some things remain the same. Not a day passes by without users reporting unwanted nuisance calls on tellows. The most searched numbers this week include the following:

1. 01143072406 with 5 comments and 4717 search requests. tellows Score: 7
2. 02075363554 with 3 comments and 3514 search requests. tellows Score: 5
3. 01614867770 with 16 comments and 10225 search requests. tellows Score: 7
4. 01753441520 with 5 comments and 7394 search requests. tellows Score: 7
5. 01415676218 with 11 comments and 4543 search requests. tellows Score: 7

Rated by our users as rather untrustworthy with a tellows score of 7, our first number, 01143072406, has been a frequent guest on our top 5 list. Most of our users that reported the number have complained about unsolicited telemarketing calls by a well-known British energy and home services provider.

Our second place this week, the number 02075363554 has been reported by our users for unsolicited telemarketing calls as well. In spite of a neutral tellows score of 7, the majority felt bothered by the persistent calls from the number. User Jill reported:

Unsolicited have asked not to call previously

Calling from Manchester, our third number, 01614867770, has been ranking on our list for nearly a year and with a rating of 7 has been considered to be rather untrustworthy. Most of our users felt harassed by frequent calls regarding insurance issues. User Stirling32 commented:

As stated previously, calling on behalf of an insurance company to discuss an accident (very minor bump) had in 2012. Asked for personal details – including that of my family – before they’d continue with the call, which I refused until they confirmed some details to me. Of course, I was told that due to data protection, they wouldn’t divulge anything to me until I had to them!! […] Recommend ignoring unless you have five minutes to waste having a little fun with them….

The fourth place this week goes to number 01753441520, a new entry on our list and yet another number that earned a tellows score of 7 due to unwanted calls that our users perceived as harassment. Many of our users stated to have received calls in spite of being registered with TPS. User Johnny even wondered:

I’m registered with TPS and ex-directory as well. however, i still recieve unsolicited calls. what use is TPS if it doesn’t work.

Ranking on our final place is number 01415676218 with calls originating from Glasgow. According to the comments of our users, the number calls both on the land line as well as the mobile phone, all throughout the day and at unsociable hours without leaving a message. User Samantha decided to take action against the unwanted calls:

I started answering, they still call every day and I swear at them. I have put in a report to TPS, I advise everyone else to as well.

If you have received unsolicited or dubious calls or have any other information on a certain telephone number, do not hesitate to share it with our tellows community. Other than that, we hope you stay scam and nusicance call-free.

Your tellows team

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Unsolicited Telephone Calls: The Top 5 Nuisance Callers of the Week

Dear friends of tellows,

with another week coming to an end, we have another set of spam and scam numbers that have kept you and your phone lines busy throughout the past seven days. With a few new entries, this week’s list is composed of a mix of the usual suspects and newcomers. Let’s have a look:

1. 08000641087 with 9 comments and 9774 search requests. tellows Score: 6
2. 01143072000 with 15 comments and 8300 search requests. tellows Score: 7
3. 01482489200 with 4 comments and 1153 search requests. tellows Score: 8
4. 02392386688 with 3 comments and 1731 search requests. tellows Score: 6
5. 01625538490 with 8 comments and 6595 search requests. tellows Score: 8

Our first place this week, number 08000641087, is known to users on our Polish and German sites as well and has become a frequent guest on our list. Most of our users complained about having received several missed calls without any voicemessage left from the number. Additionally, user EVE reported that you can’t return the calls:

This number has rung my mother several times over the past few days,no ideas who its from because theres no message and you cant ring it back.

The second number today is 01143072000 calling from Sheffield. In spite of numerous comments and search requests on tellows, this week’s entry marks only its second appearance on our list. Even though the number with a tellows score of 7 is deemed rather untrustworthy by our users, its authenticity is highly debated. Whereas some reported a telephone provider behind the calls, others questioned the legitimacy of the calls due to the fact that they were also contacted abroad in the US and Turkey, for instance. User Buck commented:

The number called me.. No message left for me. Previous calls from same number that I won’t answer. Calls day and night. Good number search shows me where the call is made from, the location to the nearest 25 metres. Guess what, I am in Sheffield next week on business. Will be nice to meet the person won’t it.

Calling from Hull, the number 01482489200 ranks on our third place this week and is a newcomer to the list. Often allocated to a well-known telecommunications service provider in the UK, most have reported calls from the number as telemarketing and aggressive advertising. Additionally, most users questioned the authenticity of the calls like Petunia 70:

I said i didn’t know whether he was really from Talk Talk and asked his name. He asked for my name,address and birth-date. I said I would check with Talk Talk and ring him back.He rang off.

Another newcomer to our list, number four 02392386688 makes calls from Southhampton – the nature of which are rather disputed among users. While some regarded continuous calls from this number as nuisance, user L Scard rated the number as trustworthy, commenting:

got call from this number it was from spectrum housing group telling me when my job would be done,nothing horrible no sales talk just spectrum.

Finally, number 01625538490 from Macclesfield ranks as yet another newcomer on our fifth place this week. According to our users, the caller offers services to reclaim PPI for loans and credit cards. Most users have doubts regarding the legitimacy of the calls.

If you have recently received any calls from an unknown number that seem untrustworthy or dubious, do not hesitate to share your experiences on tellows.co.uk and help raise awareness about telephone spam and scam numbers. Have a nice weekend!

Your tellows team

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 Comments

Weekly Update on the Top 5 Nuisance Callers

Dear friends of tellows,

it has been another week filled with telephone spam calls. As always, we present to you the top 5 most wanted numbers of the past five days. This week the list is dominated by telephone numbers used for telemarketing purposes, but see for yourself:

1. 01143072406 with 5 comments and 4556 search requests. tellows Score: 7
2. 01782747000 with 4 comments and 2613 search requests. tellows Score: 5
3. 01415676218 with 11 comments and 4428 search requests. tellows Score: 7
4. 01133902114 with 4 comments and 3430 search requests. tellows Score: 7
5. 01383620466 with 8 comments and 1921 search requests. tellows Score: 8

The first number this week, 01143072406, is calling from Sheffield and, with a tellows score of 7, is rated as rather untrustworthy by our users. Reporting the calls as telemarketing, user Brian offered further information on the caller:

A woman asked about ‘Free Cavity wall insulation’, allegedly from British Gas. Just did not seem right. We’re with TPS, and now I’m annoyed. She was not aggressive, or pushy, but I do not want random people ringing me at home.

Similarly, the second place on this week’s list, number 01782747000 has been used for telemarketing calls – this time to bath-related tools and features. Some users, however, question the authenticity of the caller: user Delboy, for instance, wrote:

Can’t see how 01782747000 can be a legitimate company selling bath lifts, because if you phone it they try and sell you legal representation services. I think the previous poster is confused between care-knight and bath-knight. I’m sure batch-knight are a very reliable company, but care-knight are definitely the company behind these cold calls on 01782747000.

Ranking on third place, number 01415676218 is reported for telemarketing and silent calls. Dave commented:

This number rings mobile every night regardless of day. Have not answered it as suspect it is a telesales or something. Never leaves a message

Our fourth number this week, 01133902114, is calling from Leeds and has been reported as a telemarketer. Even though some users question the legitimacy of the calls, others have allocated the number to a well-known UK internet service provider.

Last but not least, number 01383620466 has been keeping the telephone lines of our users busy as well. User Pamela sums up the problem with the number in four words:

Silent calls, constant calling

If you have any further details on this or any other number, don’t hesistate to share them with the tellows community and help others to avoid telephone scams and spams. – It will be very much appreciated. Other than that, have a nice weekend free of telephone scams and spam!

Your tellows team

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

How to stop nuisance calls – the elderly as perfect victims

Nuisance calls are on the news again. Just a few weeks ago we told you about the findings of a study, that revealed highly startling news on the business practice of nuisance callers and the real extent of scam in the UK. The findings of Ofcom did not only show how nerve-wracking unwanted calls are in the eyes of most people, the results were also combined with a claim on improved and immediate action, which in detail means: a complete ban on cold calling. This week we will give you another clean proof on the necessity of action.

The current problem concerning nuisance calls
The starting point of the ongoing silent, abandoned, harassment and any other unwanted calls is the fact, that the existing mechanisms launched for protection and defence are not working at all. The Telephone Preference Service TPS as a free service for customers to opt out from receiving marketing calls, is not at all hindering businesses to use phone calls as a working method for any kind of promotion or scam. As the restriction is not broad enough, a registration of one’s number on TPS does only help to stop unsolicited calls with a sales purpose, which means that for example any kind of recorded message as well as research or silent calls are not under the control of TPS. As already mentioned in the blog on the Ofcom study, problems especially occur if the caller is calling from abroad, as there is actually no legal basis for taking action against this.

desperate man on the phone

Photo by Alon, flickr.com

Elderly people attracting the attention of scammers
Although it is well-known, that especially elderly people are likely to be taken in by fraudsters, there are still not a lot of options on how to deal with it, as a recent example in the Guardian shows. What bothers the most is, that there are no actual attempts that would help to improve this situation, except for claims of consumer organizations and so far unredeemed promises of officials. The only help might be to fall back on private companies offering services and products to deal with the unsolicited calls yourself. When it comes to elderly people, this means that younger relatives need to help out. As the example of the guardian writer shows very clearly, this is as necessary as frustrating. She shows us through her own experience with an elderly relative, that most of the techniques that would work for us – like just not answering calls from unknown numbers or not giving away personal information – are not as useful for elderly people. Particularly politeness, forgetfulness or just loneliness are the biggest problems here. Elderlies tend to answer all calls as they want to be friendly; they talk to the researchers as they need conversation; and they give away their bank account data as they trust the friendly voice at the other side of the phone. So what is best to do?

How to deal with scam and spam calls
Of course, a complaint is one of the first steps to do when receiving unsolicited calls. But this is not an immediate solution, it helps on the long run, not for the present. First of all, checking the possibilities that are offered by your provider makes sense. Some opportunities of blacklisting numbers or blocking calls are integrated in most of the systems.

But as the author of the guardian article points out as well, this is still not enough for the protection of elderly people. What she found might be the best solution for this problem in years, the trueCall device, blocking calls from unknown numbers completely, redirecting them to the answer phone straight away. Although this of course is not a free device, this product might be the perfect solution for a lot of different problems, as it can be used to block numbers, record important messages or even ask who is calling to decide right away if one should answer the phone. Although we could not test it, the mere existence of such a blocker means, that there are people actually thinking about how to solve the problem of unsolicited calls, as officials regularly fail to do so.

As many other applications, devices or web pages, also tellows works for the purpose of informing people on the dangers of unsolicited calls and hindering companies to scam. As long as the regulators are not able to take efficient enforcement action for the protection of consumers, it is up to tellows, trueCall et al. to support the fight on unwanted calls.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Ofcom Study – Ban on Cold Calling is claimed

A research initiated by the Office of Communications (Ofcom) reveals the truth about unsolicited nuisance calls in the UK and thus calls for action to solve to problem of far too many cold calls.

The Ofcom Study
Within a period of four weeks 850 consumers were asked to keep a diary of all cold calls they receive. The Ofcom research revealed that 80 percent of the participants received unwanted calls regularly, on an average even more than twice a week. Especially calls on PPI reclaim (Payment Protection Insurance) were the most annoying and yet also the most often ones. While at least one out of four people got called more than 10 times, most calls came from PPI claim companies as well as from market research firms.

What is next?
In terms of the survey findings the Citizens Advice called for a complete ban on cold calling. Not only because more than one third of all complaints from companies are related to cold calls. Mostly firms dealing with financial services use cold and silent calls and thereby demanding upfront fees or trying to sell unprofitable offers, cheating people out of their pension. Furthermore the companies get personal data through the nuisance calls, mostly unbeknown and unauthorised by the individuals. A ban would help to make cold calls clearly identifiable as illegal. Citizens Advice recommends the banning of credit brokers and claims management companies as well as of pension unlocking services.

Ofcom follows a different strategy though. Not the banning but a wide investigation into claims management companies making the cold calls is needed. Thereby not only the big companies will be in the focus of enforcement actions, also smaller companies are responsible for the nuisance calls to a large extent and should be overseen. Ofcom is now promoting wider investigation and action regarding cold calls, especially dealing with claims. Thereby they focus on silent calls as well, which are done by the company’s telephone systems automatically without even having a staff member conducting the calls.

Taking Action
The government as well as other regulators and institutions are called upon to take action more effectively. Ofcom already imposed penalties for silent and abandoned calls done by major firms as TalkTalk. Furthermore the ICO supports the attempts of Ofcom by pointing out the regulations and industry rules to over 170 marketing companies. Nevertheless householders can get active themselves. By signing up for the free Telephone Preference Service (TPS) individuals can stop nuisance calls on the purpose of marketing and sales. However, as we already mentioned in our last article, it is extremely hard to block most of the calls, as they often come from overseas call centres. Not more than one third of all abandoned calls can be cut out. For further improvement Ofcom is currently collaborating with the ICO and the Ministry of Justice for more effective actions.

We will keep you informed about upcoming achievements in the struggle against nuisance calls in our blog on tellows UK.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/may/17/ofcom-urged-ban-cold-calling

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Data Protection and Nuisance Calls – Rights and Regulations

The usage of nuisance calls is one of the most annoying marketing strategies nowadays, its benefits are highly controversial and justifiably so. Nevertheless dozens of companies call and message their customers as well as total strangers every day. While the tellows community offers fruitful hints about the source of certain telephone numbers, we now would like to provide you with useful information regarding your right to data privacy as well. Especially the regulations on personal data and its use are rigorous and actually promote benefits for all of us. But for a successful fight against scam and spam calls you need to know and defend your rights.

The following information will give you a broad knowledge on data security, mainly based on laws and regulations valid in UK. Some institutions were specially built for the protection of our data.

The Data Protection Act
The DPA is one of the most important pieces of legislation when it comes to data protection in the UK. The DPA was enacted to be in line with the data protection directive in the EU, which should guarantee protection of people’s right to privacy, especially concerning the processing of personal data. As it aims to safeguard consumer rights regarding personal data, the 1998 DPA also guarantees self-control over personal information and the right to privacy. It determines that any collection or use of personal date requires consent of the individuals concerned. Furthermore, all organisations processing this kind of data need to comply with the regulations of the Act and need to be registered at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as well. It also vests all individuals with the authority to get access to their stored data by any organisation.

Privacy Electronic Communication Regulations
The EC Directive, known as the E-Privacy Directive is a continuation of the DPA on data protection. It enables criminal proceedings through fines up to £500,000 for the unauthorised use of recorded messages for marketing purposes. The impact of the EC Directive also includes phone calls, emails and SMS messages. Thereby it provides the legal basis for consumer protection especially in the case of direct marketing and has been amended several times.

Information Commissioner’s Office
As mentioned before, the ICO is the authority for upholding consumer rights as well as data protection in the UK. The enforcement of both presented regulations is controlled by the ICO, who has multiple tools for opposing misuse of personal data. There are not only possibilities of monetary penalty, the ICO is also entitled to audit and prosecute anyone disregarding the DPA or the EC Directive.

Every call or message as marketing measure needs to be consented by the individual to be permitted. In any case marketers need to provide a possibility to opt out any following messages or calls to meet the legal regulations. If this is disregarded, those responsible also disregard the regulations and thereby are liable to prosecution. Thus, consulting the ICO is everyone’s right. When there is violation of rights, the ICO takes action to ensure a proper handling of personal information and also enables individuals to detect the information held about them.

Telephone Preference Service
Next to these legal institutions and laws consumers have the possibility to use the TPS. This central register enables people to opt out from receiving unsolicited nuisance calls. As described before, organisations have to respect the request of individuals not to be approached if listed in the TPS. The free registration can be done by any individual for a certain number (mobile phone numbers as well) and takes full effect after approx. 28 days. The TPS offers a complaint system as well. Although the TPS is not allowed to take any action of enforcement, they regularly send updates about the incoming complaints to the ICO as the body responsible. This strongly supports their investigations.

While reliable companies accept the TPS entries as it is a legal requirement, it is quite easy for organisations working outside of the UK to circumvent the regulations. Through Caller ID spoofing, which allows deceptive organisations to display a number that is not the original one. Although this is obviously illegal, the ICO’s and TPS’s authority is not effective outside the UK. Unfortunately a TPS registration does also not prevent calls on the purpose of legit market research. Also the receipt of marketing text messages is not under the control of TPS. To stop receiving SMS messages you have to send a request to the company yourself, a simple „STOP“ message is enough though.

The Office of Communications
The Ofcom has an even broader scope. As it is a regulatory and competition authority approved by the government, it represents the interest of UK citizens regarding competition and protection for broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries. Thereby the Ofcom also deals with problems of nuisance calls and offers particular guidelines for several situations.

All of the presented regulations and authorities can help you taking care of annoying, even malicious phone calls and messages. In some cases however it might be advisable to consult a lawyer to advice you for further legal steps if necessary.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Students – more likely become victims of a scam

Mobile phone fraud involves a variety of scams that either persuade you to buy phone-related products/services that turn out to be non-existent or to make phone calls or texts to premium services by accident or to unknowingly sign up to expensive subscription services. And each year millions of the UK consumers fall victim to mobile phone frauds.
There is one group of people who are more likely to become a victim of a scam – students! Students are using their mobile phones almost 24 h a day and they are open to communication with the world. Those might be the reasons for the latest frauds in the UK, when students were victims.
Last fall college students have been left in thousands of pounds of debt after becoming involved in a mobile phone contract scam. A fraud has made young people sign up for numerous expensive mobile phone deals on the promise they will not be required to fulfil them. Young people from Preston College have taken out mobile phone contracts which they hand over to a fraudster, who promised to cancel the contracts. But instead he shipped them abroad to places like India and Pakistan leaving students facing bills for more than £2,000 each. Some of them were paid a fee for their work, while others were probably conned into the belief taking mobile phones would “improve their credit rating.” Police have today revealed frauds – criminals from Blackburn.
Very often scammed are especially international students. Tellows user m.wentzel reported number 02032398294 and his comment:

This is one of the numbers that pretends to be from the UKBA to fool international students in the UK and tell them there is something wrong with their imigration application. They have parts of your data (maybe name, zip-code etc.) and they try to get ALL of your information plus your credit card details. Do not give that information!

In 2012 BBC informed that in nine months viruses that steal cash have jumped from 29% of mobile malware to 62% . Mobile security firm Lookout said viruses were getting on to phones via booby-trapped apps and through adverts and webpages harbouring malware. Those viruses added charges to a user’s bill to cash in. Fraudsters inserted a virus called “NotCompatible”. Such a virus might be used to artificially inflate the popularity of an advert, a song on a music website to help generate a larger return for criminals.
Another example of scam adds has been reported by Tellows user London on number 07572597532:

Be careful people. This guy puts fakes adds on gumtree. But is a scam.
Trust me. This guy is a scammer.

People are being tricked into signing up, often by typing in their mobile number online, for services they actually don’t want. Messages are then sent out which can cost users up to £4.50 per text to receive. Unless people keep a close eye on their mobile phone bills those charges can add up very quickly. For example, twenty-four-year-old Beth Coundley from Chichester got caught out after receiving around five texts a month for five months. In total she was charged around £130 despite insisting she never signed up for any services.
And those are just few examples of this huge problem. To protect yourself it is better not to respond to unknown numbers, to reply to text messages from someone you don’t know, to reply to any text that claims you won money. We have to remember it is not possible to win money without entering a competition.
Taking into consideration the amount of phone frauds, the UK government is doing everything possible to protect their citizens. There are advices how to protect yourself and your money in the internet, also everybody who becomes victims can make a fraud information report on webpage of Tellows. Police and National Fraud Authority are working together to fight this fight. Unfortunately, the development of technologies guarantees the development of fraudsters’ imagination.

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Iphone App: No Access to Contacts

Issue: You receive an error message saying that the tellows app does not have access to your contacts.

App Access Error

Solution: Open your local settings menu and click on “Data Protection”

Local Settings

Open the “Contacts” menu in “Privacy”.

Privacy

Enable tellows app access to contacts.

Menu 2

The app is now allowed to add the score lists to your contacts.

, , , , , ,

1 Comment

iPhone App: Issues with the Import of Score Lists

Issue: The tellwso pro caller recognition app is unable to add the tellows score lists (negatively rated) to your contacts.
In this case you probably use only Exchange-Accounts to synchronize your contacts and never enabled neither iCloud nor t your local iPhone contact list.

Background: The tellows app imports the score lists with negatively rated numbers and adds 3 new contacts by the name of “tellows Score X” (X equals the score of 7 – 9). There are known issues when importing the score lists using certain Exchange-Servers (i.e. Google) since they can attribute only a small amount of phone numbers to the contacts.

There are two ways to resolve this issue:

1.Solution
To successfully import the lists the local contacts list of your iPhone needs to be addressed manually (the tellows app does not have access to your contacts list). To achieve this, you have temporalily disable the Exchange-servers and add a “dummy” contact. The screens below offer further information on the procedure.

1. Edit Exchange-Server Settingstemporalily disable the Exchange-servers
2. Disable Contact Synchronization
3. Delete any contacts from the phone to avoid duplicate entries
4. Add new contact

5. Save contact – A name is sufficient

6. Enable contact synchronization of Exchange-servers and keep created contacts on the phone
7. The groups overview now shows the group "On my iPhone" in which the tellows score lists are saved

2.Solution
Apple’s iCloud service provides an additional way for the contact synchronization which also supports multiple numbers per contact. The activation of the iCloud synchronization solves the issue as well and, therewith, allows the tellows app to import negatively rated numbers.
The standard account for maintaining your contacts (create / edit / delete) stays untouched.

, , , , , , ,

1 Comment