Archive for category Knowledge

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

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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.

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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.

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UK – world’s most phished country in 2012

According to the world renowned cyber experts RSA, in 2012 UK consumers lost more money to online fraud than any other country. The RSA Anti-Fraud Command Centre (AFCC) released figures of a £405.8m loss in the UK for 2012 which was gained from 250 000 phishing attacks.
For the UK, this resulted in a 25% increase from 2011. The top five countries, which have a significant English speaking population, are as follows. US are second even though there loss was a decline of 19%. Canada, India and South Africa make up the rest.

An annual lost to the UK through cybercrime was estimated at £27bn by Detica-BAE Systems. From this £27bn, £21bn is believed to come from businesses.

The cost to consumers is equally catastrophic. Detica believes that a total figure of £3.1bn has a more encompassing scope than RSA. Fake antivirus packages and ‘scareware’ cost the consumer around £30m.

However, one must use caution when using estimations of cost as previous usages have been exaggerated wildly. However the RSA’s figures are based on attacks detected and dealt with by its AFCC. The attacks are then given the value of $300 per attack as this is the average from 8 years of operations, with 500 000 incidents tackled in this time. Detica’s totals use analysis from 25 industrial sectors and consultation with five British government agencies.

Due to the widespread use of chip-and-pin technology and other multi-factor authentication, the UK population are less at risk than those in the US.

Limor Kessem, Technical Lead of Knowledge Delivery at RSA believes that the UK are targeted due to an increase in technology for the average person. She said “The problem with the UK is that more people use the internet, more people have technology”.
The Office for National Statistics released figures last week that show that 84.7% of the UK public have used the internet at least once. In comparison, the US has a figure of 77.9%. In addition, the UK has the most usage for internet access from mobiles which increases the risk of attack.

New tactics are constantly being evolved by potential fraudsters to rid you of your money. For example, online fraudsters often require an individual, or an ‘insider’, to reside in the country of the target. This is in case attendance at a bank is required and in this sense the fraudster can impersonate the target. “It’s partly because of the accent. You have to sound like a local if you really want to make sure the transaction goes through”, said Kessem.

Highlighted in a 2012 UK Cards Association report on payment fraud were methods that a potential fraudster might carry out in-branch. The theft of a card at an ATM, or tricking individuals into revealing their card and PIN by posing as a telephone salesperson have been used in the past.

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Work Methods of Call Centres – The Importance of Telephone Number Blocks

Constant avaiability through our mobile and smartphones has become a part of our daily routine. Although there are, undoubtably, advantages to this avaiability, for some people this benefit turned into curse, especially as far as unsolicited calls are concerned.

One Company, Innumberable Phone Numbers – Thanks to Phone Number Blocks

Who does not know about the problem of being called by unknown phone numbers? Often the perpetrator is only one call centre disguised behind a broad range of phone numbers. How does that work? On one hand, call centres employ the Voice over IP technology to generate random phone numbers to conceal their true numbers, on the other hand, most call centre request vast blocks of telephone numbers from the network provider.

A phone number block contains at least 10 phone numbers which match each other in their initial digits. The public telephone network offers block numbers containing up to 1000 phone numbers. Some companies with a high affinity to telecommunications maintain block numbers supplying up to 10000 phone numbers to support their telephone systems. Another variant of block numbers refers to the bulk of extension numbers to define a telephone systems substations.

The main advantages of number blocks enables companies the use of Direct Dial Ins, that provides the telephone system’s substation to be avaiable directly from internal and public networks without the need of being relayed manually. As far as the consumer is concerned, he or she will be able to skip the company’s or institution’s swithboard and call the desired colloquist directly through the extension number. Additionally, consumers can recognize the number and attribute it to a certain company or institution.

Call Centres Use a Large Variety of Numbers

De facto most call centres use their number blocks to their own profitable ends. Hence consumer will be targeted by various numbers behind which telemarketers and lottery scams lurk. Most call centre expect their numbers being blocked every now and then. In order to avoid any losses call centres draw on a vast pool of numbers, essentially, thanks to the number blocks provided by the nertwork operator. The more number block a company has at its disposal, the more phone numbers it can employ. Although numbers of nuisance callers are blocked not only by consumer on a regular basis but also by official institution – some only after thousands of complaints – the call centres supply of replacement numbers enables the company to go on as if nothing happened.

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Timeshare Cold Calls

It seems as though there is a new player in the game of scamming innocent timeshare owners into purchasing help to move their timeshares. Action Services International, or ASI, has been recently noted to be cold-calling individuals who own timeshares, and offering to assist the owners in selling their timeshares. What happens on this phone call, and what should you been looking out for? The agent(s) performing the cold-call will generally invite the owner to Spain to partake in legal action against the company which owns their timeshare on something called a “no-win, no-fee” basis. Subsequently, the individual would then be offered another service, this one referred to as a “disposal service,” which would buy-out the timeshare for an upfront fee. If the trip to Spain for legal action wasn’t something to be cautious about already, the upfront fee certainly is.

Tellows user mmj reported number 01474607608 and shared her experience with us:

Told that I was a former owner of time share and so was entitled to a week’s holiday for 6 anywhere in the world accomodation only but had to agree within 3 days and pay up front.

With any agency such as this, whether or not they are marketing a timeshare or any other piece of personal property, an upfront fee is not an industry standard, and allows the company to profit from you without helping you.

Be wary of how you interact with these companies, because if it is a scam, you may spend the money without even moving the timeshare from your name. When this happens to an someone, that individual still owes yearly dues on the timeshare, even though they spent the money to the scamming company to remove them.

It can get very annoying, tellows user angry man has reported number 01229346001 as a harrasment call and commented:

This is a Timeshare resale scam, asking prospective customers to part with their money as a ‘Retainer’ before they sell their timeshare or holiday club membership to them.

Unfortunately, this occurs more than you may think. This sentiment is mirrored by Alberto Garcia, the director of Mindtimeshare, a consumer association in Spain that represents victims of fraud such as this. He mentions that there are numerous cases where the “disposal fee” is paid, and the timeshare is never removed from the owner’s name. Fortunately, many timeshare companies are now changing their regulations in order to combat fraud such as this, in an effort to protect their customers. It is important that timeshare owners contact their representative companies first before seeking third-party assistance in marketing such assets.

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Another Day, Another Scam – Be aware of current fraud-methods!

Another scam trying to lure you into a trip by promises of great riches sprouts shoots.

We would like to warn you about a message which promises a bonus payment of 1000₤ in addition to the regular pension. This recorded message want you to push 5 for further information or 9 for unsubscribing. Sometimes it’s not a message but a call. One of the numbers which are used by those fraudsters is 01619610056. Please don’t answer to that, its a scam! If you know other numbers, comment them here in order to warn other users!

Another method to get your money is stealing your bank details. We reported last year about scammers who claim to be SKY-employees in order to get your bank information. Now another company called Lending Stream is intend to gain access to your purse. They claim they granted you a loan in the past which they debit from your bank account now – although there isn’t any evidence for this loan. Even big banks like Lloyds aren’t protected from this method. Unfiortunately, you are often left alone with the problem because they don’t know how to avoid scams like this.

Our user Andrew tells us about his bad experiences with Lending Stream.

this company offered my father a loan so he paid them a u-cash voucher for 145 pounds so as his loan went into his bank account… it all seemed above board then they said they wanted another 250 to process….LENDING TREAM… Comlpete rip off merchants PLEASE STAY AWAY… my dad is 68 years old and they took most of his wages and then wanted more…SCUM THATS WHAT THIS COMPANY ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And they said he cant have his money BACK!!!!

All we can do is to pay attention and to share our experiences on tellows.co.uk.

Take care, your tellows-Team!

Sources:
Guardian – Lloyds Payday Fraud
Guardian – Recorded Phone Message

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Great Success Against PC Doctor Scammers

It sounds like a relief from one of the most common scam methods of the past two years: the American FTC (Federal Trade Commission), in cooperation with several crime defense organisations such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission and the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency as well as law enforcement officials in India, has arrested 17 people in responsible positions of fraud companies.

As the Guardian reported, Indian fraud companies used locations and acounts in the USA and Canada to funnel the money back to India. Namely it were the following companies whose assets have been frozen: Pecon Software; PC Care247; Connexxions Infotech; Connexxions IT Services Private Ltd; Zeal IT Solutions; Lakshmi Infosoul Services Private Ltd; Virtual PC Solutions, First PC Solution; Direct PC Solution; Virtual IT Supports; Global Innovative Service; 24x7pchelp; 24x7pctech; Transfront Solutions; New World Services; Megabites Solutions; Mega Bits; Greybytes Cybertech; Bluesystemcare; Shine Solutions Private Ltd.

Tellows reported about the so-called PC doctor scam method on its blog earlier this year: http://blog.tellows.co.uk/tag/virus/

The scam was addressed to citizens of all English-speaking countries, with calls originating from India. Briefly said, the scam consisted in calliing the victims on the phone with the caller introducing himself as an employee of microsoft calling because of a virus that had been detected on the called person’s PC. The caller would ask the victim to open the Windows Event Viewer – a part of the Windows operating system that regularly gives error warnings, but these have no negative influence on a computer’s functioning.

Consequently, the caller would instruct the person on the other end to download a pseudo-anti-virus programme for a fee or even subscribe the person to a regular update for the application that should fix the computer problem. Even worse: in some cases the fraudsters were asking for personal information and bank account details to gain their victims’ money. According to the Guardian, the fraudsters were in average able to ripp more than $ 800 off each conned person.

Tellows has records of the following UK numbers connected to the fraud:

Source:

Yours,

Team Tellows

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Beware: Fraudulent Sky Callers Want Your Bank Details!

Were are back again to bring you the latest news on a new fraud method circulating in the UK. Scammers pretending to work for SKY TV or companies related to SKY are calling (former) sky customers, claiming their package had to be renewed or their bills had not been paid. Watch out! It might sound logical in the first place, but all these fraudsters want is to get your bank details!
We are talking namely about the following numbers:

The caller pretends to be an employee of SKY TV or a company installing the gear for SKY. All calls show a similar structure: first you will be confronted with some financial matter. Either you have not payed your SKY fee or you are paying too much and should get money back. Second part: you will be asked for your details.

We provide some simple advices how you notice that this is a scam call

  • Never ever tell anybody your credit card details during a cold call, nor give any other personal information like your name or address. The caller should have at least your address, if it really is a legitimate company calling you. Ask for the information they got on you!
  • Ask the caller for her/his name, job title, company and telephone number
  • Write down the telephone number and report it to tellows.co.uk
  • Keep in mind that legitimate companies do contracts in a written way and never ask for personal details and financial matters on the phone

Source:

Yours,

Team Tellows

Read more on the topic in our press release.

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UKBA scammers try to sqeeze money from immigrants

There is a new scam that especially affects foreigners (mostly students). There are two reported telephone numbers connected this case:

The caller pretends to be an employee of the UKBA (United Kingdom Border Agency). All calls show the same structure. The fraudster will tell you that there is a problem with your immigration status or your visa and that you’ll have to pay a fine. You’ll be advised to give him your credit card / debit card details or directly make a Western Union payment to settle the issue as easy as possible to prevent the UKBA from taking further steps against you. To convince you of his authenticity the dubious employee may tell you some personal information about yourself like your passport number or your telephone number. One victim even reported that he was called concerning one of his relatives. If you refuse to cooperate the caller will most probably try to put pressure on you with deportation threats and other tricks.

We provide some simple tips that you can rely on

  • do never ever tell someone your credit card details during a cold call
  • nor give any other personal information like your name or address
  • instead ask the fraudster for his name, job title and telephone number
  • note down the telephone number and report it on tellows.co.uk

Sources:
http://ljmu.ac.uk/NewsUpdate/index_124039.htm
http://www.ukcisa.org.uk/student/

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