Author Archives: ellen

Omnipresent But Not Omnipotent; How To Beat The All-New Multinational Phone Scam

Originating by all accounts in Latvia, Belarus and Afghanistan, the latest scam sending ripples across the phone network is a worldwide operation. The perpetrators send short, curiosity-provoking, incognito texts to individuals requesting that they call back any of an array of fee-charging +371 numbers. Continue reading

Tiresome and Tenacious: The Week’s Top 3

Hello tellows followers!

The theme this week is domestic utilities. These people call you at your home, whilst you’re at home, making you feel not at home. We hope we can save you a little time if the following come calling.

Have you recently become a landlord with Your Move? Prepare to be assailed with calls from these insurance telemarketers on 01392849890! With 4581 search requests, it seems that not all of you are convinced by their credibility either (tellows score: 4), so handle with caution! Sister number 01392849808 is also manned by telemarketers selling gas/water/electricity; estate agents Right Move and Reeds Rains appear to be passing on your details to ‘helpful’ third parties.

‘Annoyed’ states:

Estate Agents have given them my number, what a cheek! but try to prove it! First said they were offering a Estate Agent service to connect gas etc. when moving in. then once had me listening started talking tariffs, I swiftly told them I wasn’t interested and they put the phone down, but I know it won’t be the last junk call I’ll be getting. This should be illegal.

Shouldn’t it?

Next up, we have 02036170540, who’ll tells you it’s a survey then try to sell you energy devices for your home. They’re not likely to know your name exactly and for that matter, don’t seem sure of their own: they operate under variations on the ‘British Energy Council’ and ‘Domestic Energy Valuation’, to the ultimately vague ‘British Advisory Board’. It’s been searched 10170 times on tellows and you’ve left 41 comments!

SammyJ reports one of the classic telemarketing tactics:

Call at nearly 9pm, “im not selling anything”, then in the next breath, we want to help youoptimise your household energy bills!!!

As a sidenote, the ’20 seconds’ of your time they so politely request is a majestic underestimation.

Finally, with 19307 tellows search requests to their name and an impressive 36 comments, the people from 01233648537 phone on behalf of various organisations to do surveys – anything from water companies to Natwest (which seems to be the current activity). So – private survey company or con-ring? Sandra gives us a clue…

Missed call at 8.35pm on Sunday. They called again 5 minutes later and started off with natwest bank survey. When I refused to answer questions they said they also deal with Anglos water and started questioning me about monthly direct debit. Told them I’m not interested in speaking to them and hung up. Have tried calling me back twice now!

There are many legitimate companies that outsource independent survey organisations to carry out questionnaires for them, but it is ALWAYS worth checking the legitimacy, not giving out or confirming personal details, and remembering that you are not obliged to answer the survey. These people are requesting time from YOUR day!

Hang in there, hang up on them and hang it all and go on holiday if it gets too much.

Ciao for now,

Your tellows team

Regulator Knocks Gumtree Tricksters Off Their Perch

This week brought fantastic news for victims of telephone fraud as regulator PhonepayPlus confronted huge offender RS Premium with a whopping great fine and a ban on operating premium rate numbers.

The scam, a relatively unoriginal ‘call-us-back-and-we’ll-keep-you-on-rather-pricy-hold’ manoeuvre, targeted househunters and jobseekers – indeed, the vulnerability of the victims was part of the reason that PhonepayPlus came down so hard upon the perpetrators. Adverts and emails containing details of non-existent vacancies or properties lured eager and unsuspecting individuals into calling these 070 numbers back and waiting patiently on premium-rate hold whilst their phone bills rocketed into hyperspace.

It’s hard to track down exactly which calls are part of a certain scam as so many different numbers are used by the ‘artists’ to carry out their schemes and help them blend into a haze of anonymity. However, there are plenty of you reporting remarkably similar-sounding scams on tellows, all with scores of 7 or above. Have a gander…

‘Amy Pearce’ has been tirelessly sending emails offering jobs at the fictitious ‘SB Millers’ and may ask you to call back on 07030808243. Hannahayleigh wasn’t going to be caught out in a hurry:

Received a message saying I’d got through some kind of recruitment screening process and offering me a job. Deleted it straight away as I haven’t been on the job market for several years! Googled the agency and surprise surprise, it seems to be a fake. These people are a waste of space.

User GiGi also had her wits about her when asked to call 07030808244 back:

I got an email from this person, recruiting me for her company. I called them against my better judgement and was kept waiting on the phone for at least 7 minutes. If nothing else, that’s simply rude and I also realised that I had to pay for every minute…In the end they didn’t have any jobs to offer. I examined the email more closely and discovered that it didn’t look really professional, like with a signature and everything.

…and ‘Scammer finder’ simply cuts to the chase with some stern words of warning:

DO NOT PHONE AND WARN YOUR MATES AND WHOEVER ELSE. YOU’LL GET RIPPED OFF!!!

07030808245 and 07030808246 (are you spotting a trend here) are also used by the infamous ‘Miss Pearce’.

Similar scams frequently pop up on tellows and seem to be an ongoing problem; see this example, 07053500874, reported by Jskr late in 2012:

Received email from Tony Render offering interview with the department manager, Edie Wilson and told to contact this number. Checked on line to find it is a cost scam resulting in large bills. Do not reply!

070 numbers have been in question for a long while, as their closeness in appearance to mobile numbers renders them prime fraud-fodder and they unfortunately seem to proliferate on Gumtree; see this warning about 07053528945 from user, er, ‘Warning’:

its a rent SCAM to get you to call premium numbers. you call a normal mobile no and he tells you to call his girlfriend, then says you got the number wrong, bla bla bla. SCAM

RS Premium were charged ₤120,000 for their misconduct and it seems that Ofcom may be reevaluating their decision re: 070 numbers.

Phone owners: 1, Scammers: 0. There is hope, boys and girls.

Unfortunately, the wonderfully useful website Gumtree does seem to attract the occasional scammer amongst the bona fide individuals and organisations that advertise there. Just keep your eyes open for 070 numbers and try not to give personal details away until you’ve established a reasonable level of trust. The website itself offers some solid advice about how to protect yourself against potential fraudsters.

Keep reporting any dodgy dealings on tellows and do your fellow users a favour!

Stay savvy,
Your tellows team

Time To Draw The Line? UK Muses Bill Prohibiting ‘Non-Consensual’ Cold Calling

It’s a time of flux in the telemarketing world: laws are changing internationally and indeed, some countries are forging long-distance alliances to crack down on tele-tormenters. The UK government is currently considering following other countries’ lead and introducing radical consumer protection measures with regard to cold calling.

Since 2010, for example, German citizens have had to specifically opt in to receive marketing calls and telemarketing companies are now legally obliged to display their caller ID. Meanwhile in the US, October 16th saw revisions to the Federal Communication Commission’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) come into force, forbidding telemarketers to solicit using autodiallers or prerecorded messages without the express written consent of the phone-owner. This ‘express written consent’ is, albeit, something of a misnomer, covering anything from

permission obtained via an email, Web site form, text message, telephone keypress, or voice recording.

Nonetheless, it is a bold and effective motion in the fight against cold call harassment and the tough financial punitive measures ($500-$1500 penalties per call or text) are proving a strong deterrent.

The UK, meanwhile, is yet to see such a measure come into effect. With those who have signed up to the TPS (about 75% of UK landlines) often reporting receiving double the amount of sales calls received by those who aren’t, British phone owners are starting to lose faith in regulators’ capacity to keep ‘direct marketers’ in line.

User Jay the Kay, for example, says of 01904530013:

Called – very annoying as ring off when you answer – no idea how they got my (very private) number as only 4 people have it!!

‘Not happy’ is also somewhat irked about relentless and untimely calls from 01209219844:

Very annoying automated calls about pension, repeatedly calling at between 1am – 2am, leaving messages etc, cannot get it to stop, has broken my sleep so very grumpy

PhonePestReporter reported 01905744557 as ‘aggressive advertising’:

The PEST is: Domestic & General 🙁
They are a cold-calling pest phishing for new Loft Insulation contracts. 
I have automated calls on a daily basis for 2 months now – 3 rings and they hang up – never leaving a message. 

He (or she) goes on to voice the agonies of all those keen to see cold calling condemned to the past:

I wish the government would provide the regulators with some teeth to prosecute all these highly persistent phone pests making MULTIPLE nuisance calls. I changed my number relatively recently to avoid this, and I’m ex-directory and I’ve “opted out” so they should check before they call. I give my number out rarely to only be used by the individual companies I have to deal with. Therefore I know they have somehow acquired my number via some list processed illegally.

However, there is a ray of hope; the House of Lords are currently backing a bill which would see the UK go one step further than the USA and outlaw unsolicited calls and texts altogether. The Unsolicited Telephone Communications Bill has been provisionally passed and is to be submitted for a second reading. This strict set of regulations would mean that all telemarketers would have to gain the consent of their ‘marketees’ before calling; no mean feat when you consider the percentile of the population who’d voluntarily give the time of day to a PPI-pusher.

The regulation itself would be centralised and overseen by Ofcom, a gargantuan task necessitaing much closer surveillance than is currently, by all accounts, in effect. Moreover, such a drastic measure, as Lord Gardiner of Kimble notes, could be disastrous for the direct marketing industry. These are significant considerations which may regrettably cause the bill to stutter.

The APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) on Nuisance Calls are nonetheless bravely pushing for change; be it a wholesale ban on unsolicited calls, or a much-needed enforcement of the current regulations, the winds of change may yet be whistling through the realms of coldcalling.

In the meantime, be sure to arm yourself by looking up unknown numbers on www.tellows.co.uk, reporting rogue or pest callers to the ICO or TPS and second-guessing any implausible claims an opportunist scam caller may make. Your phone line is your own! May others respect it.

Have a wonderful week!

Your tellows team

Who’s Terrorising Your Telephone? The Weekly Top 3

Small woodland creatures may be settling down for a winter’s rest but scam and spam callers have no intention of taking a break.

Here’s the latest in annoying:

The opportunists calling from 01612778191 have somehow tracked down your personal details and know you’re on a Vodafone Pay As You Go phone – and naturally they want to upgrade you. However, user lizzie claims that they are not Vodafone at all…

Vodafone have confirmed this company is not working on their behalf but cannot answer me as to how this company knows my monthly payment plan on PAYG

Beware of telemarketers and always always confirm that the caller is legitimate before signing up to anything or handing over any personal or financial details!

Meanwhile, 02070591411 are hailing users with survey requests. We’ve never heard of anything more general than a ‘Life Survey’ but I suppose you have to cater to all audiences. They also promise that Holy Grail of ‘no more nuisance calls’ if you complete the survey. Most amusing.

User +Alzir has been getting creative, but to no avail.

Five times in a week,I’ve tried everything from playing them music to swearing at them and they still won’t give up.

Finally, we have 08445715199, an example of the current plethora of spam-text-requests plaguing mobile phone users. You’ll get a text telling you that somebody has tried to contact you (despite a mysterious lack of missed calls in your history – oh well, you suppose, perhaps I was on the phone at the time). They demand that you ‘URGENTLY’ call them back, quoting a 6 digit reference number. Rest assured that hundreds of other people will have received exactly the same reference number and you will simply be put on premium-rate hold.

Handlebarchap fancies himself one step of the game…

text from 07463590467: ‘call us back on 08445715199 and quote this reference number’. DO THEY THINK I’M STUPID?? Wish these idiots would stop pestering me with their transparent con schemes!!

However, these texts can be quite convincing to the uncynical eye so we’re giving you all a heads-up nonetheless.

Don’t say we haven’t warned you.

Have a lovely week, watch your (digital) back and we’ll be back with next week’s top three!

Ciao for now.

Your tellows team

This Week’s Top 3 Most Wanted Numbers

Hello tellows users!

A motley crew of pesterers and swindlers for you this week! There’s no rest for the wicked and therefore no rest for your phone either.

Caller number one, 01913009131, has got it all wrong. The idea with telesales is to keep the customer on the phone long enough to flog the product; this lot seem to have missed the point and will generally get about a sentence out before hanging up on you. This means we’re not 100% sure what ‘The Consumer Helpline’ are selling, but user Taylor gives us a clue…

askin if my partner had an acident last year. told him it was a long shot and hung up

I believe the correct term is ‘ambulance-chasers’.

Caller number two, calling from 02081509083, is a mysterious gentleman who seems to have trampled over colleagues and customers alike to achieve his financial goals. Under a plethora of identities and company names (most of them false, it seems), this caller has created himself a reputation that goes before him.

ryan_235 advises:

don’t touch this guy with a bargepole!!!! dodgy investments and a nasty habit of ripping you off and never paying you back. steer well clear.

pn__ gives us an ounce more insight:

villas, golf courses, murky dealings in Spain… not to be trusted.

If you hear any of the following names: Morgan Forbes/Pearl Island/First Capital Wealth/Hugh Herschell, alarm bells should ring! Remember, these sorts of people make money by being charming, so keep your wits about you!

Sombrely bringing up the rear is caller number three, a company called OTPL, on 0280697934, who are selling – wait for it – funeral insurance.

User Lynne’s experience:

phoning to sell funeral insurance from India apparently, multiple calls per day, very irritating

Like a gaggle of very persistent vultures, they’ll hover over your phoneline, calling you several times a day, for that extra dose of doom and gloom that we all need on an November day.

Keep saving these numbers under ‘time wasters’, or blocking them altogether if you can. Knowledge is power, so if you’re unsure about a caller, pop the number into tellows.co.uk and see what other users are saying about the caller.

Have a great week!

Your tellows team

Ofcom Rallies Troops in War on Caller ID Spoofing

21st October 2013 brought good news for all phone-owners as British regulator Ofcom joined forces with international regulators in the UK, USA and Canada to crack down on ‘spoof’ callers.

Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will be working with the US’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Canada’s Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). This new task force aims to share international resources and knowledge to tackle nuisance callers’ stranglehold over phonelines the world over.

Spoof calling, for those unfamiliar with the term, involves using a nifty bit of software to mask the number you’re actually calling from, in order to prevent the recipients of your calls being able to locate you, or call you back. This is of course, infuriating for those of us badgered incessantly by anonymous callers. What’s even more infuriating is that whilst some spoofers use gobbledegook numbers instead of their own, others have really taken the biscuit and tactically use well-known organisations’ digits to execute some quite remarkable conning manoeuvres.

Whilst spoofing has been happening for years, the people behind it are becoming ever more audacious. Regular spoofing will be something along the lines of what user Steven reports about number 01164465587:

SILENT CALL and if you try and call it back it is unrecognised. Looks like a scam or a spoof. The BT 1471 read this number correctly but it is duff.

Commenting on number 01618149908, user Dawn mentions another standard spoofing tactic: hiding a phone number with a bad reputation and using an as yet ‘clean’ one so you aren’t forewarned when the phone rings.

just so people know,,,,DRD ALSO CONTACT YOU USING THIS NUMBER ,,,,07734953850,, i have found out that this is a “SPOOF” number they are used by tele marketing to make them seem legitimate number calling you 

If you’ve been called by 000-000-0000 (or another unlikely-looking number), it’s highly probable that the caller was using spoofing technology. Difficulty in tracking down spoofing culprits is increased thousandfold by the fact that the origin of the call is completely untraceable. Without an area code, there is generally no way of discerning where or who a call has come from. This means that internationally-placed spoof calls are becoming increasingly common: hence the transatlantic team-up.

The joint statement from the six organisations, published on the ICO’s website, avers that they

will work together to share information and target organizations responsible for spoofing.

The member organisations will pool resources, share information and work in collaboration with telecommunications industries in their respective countries to target and reprimand offending organisations. Guidelines on what constitutes ‘misuse’ of the spoofing technique are also being reconsidered, revised and made much clearer, with a view to introducing tougher punitive measures: monetary penalties of up to £500,000 are being considered for foul-players.

In the UK, US and Canada, all telemarketers are legally obliged to identify themselves, meaning that spoofing, and also number-concealment, are against the law. Always be on your guard with unknown callers and watch out for the warning signs: are they trying to weasel information out of you, personal or otherwise? If they claim to be calling on behalf of a service you use, ask yourself if this is how they normally contact you. Try to call back on the official company number if you’re in any doubt at all and never respond to threats or implausible claims.

Take care and have a great week!

Your tellows team

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