Disturbed call recipients have been offered a new toy this month by electricity companies. A plug-in device that promises to save 40% of your energy bills for a not-so-small price starting at £99. The callers are alleged scammers, falsely claiming to be from energy suppliers or regulators, such as “British Gas.” Unfortunately, among the recipients, it is the elderly that are likely to be targeted as Moneyfacts report.
Mid May brought a new study published by Ofcom getting down to the nitty gritty extent of these nuisance calls. This study involved 926 participants who kept a diary to record all unwanted calls received on just their land-line over a 4 week period between 13th of January and the 9th of February 2014. Critical findings were accumulated such as the number, type of number, whether the number was identifiable or not, frequency and type of organisation making the phone call.
Here is what the survey revealed..
With more than a thousand complaints registered to Which every week for ’nuisance‘ calls, fines for companies breaching TPS’s and Ofcom’s rules reaching fines up to £2m, how does this industry still remain afloat? Below we have listed a few points that is the hidden driving force, not always appreciated by a frustrated recipient understandably. Knowing what drives this industry of world-wide communications is knowing that there isn’t an over-night solution. But there are solutions! Keep up with our blog to find out what they are. Moreover you can always look up numbers on tellows. By doing so, you can inform yourself about numbers and protect yourself. If you received an unwanted call, do not forget to rate the numbers on tellows, to protect other users.
A whistleblower handed the Mail a memory stick containing thousands of Barclay’s customer files, which is allegedly just a sample of a wider database containing information on 27,000 customers.
The file includes sensitive information about customer’s earnings, savings, mortgages, health issues and insurance policies. These files were compromised and sold to boiler room scammers for up to £50 per file. The stolen data may be as detailed as providing information about each customer’s occupation, health, marital status, and even their investment habits.
These information may then be used by scammers in understanding the investment attitude of customers and use this for fraudulent activities like the sale of carbon credits, diamond, rare earth metals and different kinds of commodity scam. As explained by the whistleblower, the Barclay file is:
pure gold to brokers (who must have made a fortune out of it) because it gave them a psychological edge over potential investors – their victims. Because of its detail it allowed the brokers to get inside the minds of their targets. They knew exactly how much money these people were prepared to invest and their attitude to risk.
These fraudsters who act as „loaders“ or brokers can earn up to 40 percent a deal as investment sale commission. Contracts that may seem legal and valid would even include an „exit clause“ – the date when the ROI is expected. But before this happens, the fly-by-night scammer closes shop and disappears, only to open another one after a while.
tellows UK also received a number of complaints in relation with this scam. 01614510965 was cited as harrasment call by user Annoyed:
Said they were Barclays but would’t give any information until I gave my details to this random person at this random number. Ridiculous obviously declined and asked them to write instead they haven’t, not suprised. Do not hand your details over the phone ask them to write to you and remove your contact number from their system.
RJG also reported the number 08000852652:
Scam! Contacted Barclays and it is not one of their numbers. Been passed on to the Fraud Department
Initial investigations by Barclays suggest that the massive theft of data may be linked to its former Barclays financial planning business which ceased operating in 2011 and said the leaked data originated from 2008 or earlier.
Barclay may face charges for failing to protect customer data. The case is being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office, the police and the Financial Conduct Authority.
Investing in new technology, developing smart ideas, innovating, outsourcing, call centers – the buzzwords of our business-minded con artists. They’re professionals and they know their stuff. 7 in 10 receive nuisance calls, texts and emails everyday, yet these large-scale scam operators are never penalized because apparently they are just “annoying” and not yet causing “substantial distress” to people.
You, as the target market of these fraudsters, should know better than their old tricks. Update yourself with these words of advice:
- Don’t give any personal information to strangers or to businesses – remember, they should already know your details!
- Ignore employment agencies asking for payment in advance
- Check your bank and credit card statements regularly and let your bank know immediately if there are any entries you don’t recognise
- Often, you can’t get lost money back, particularly if you have handed over cash. But you have more protection if you paid by credit card or a debit card.
For our weekly top 3, the approach of our scammers is always a hard sell. Strategies are aggressive and their tactics include cold calls and unsolicited pitches – as if they are really selling some products or services BUT actually no. They are disguised as telemarketers who just want to get your bank details or other personal info. Worse huh!
Let’s welcome 2014 with our Weekly Top 3 – I guess this is a good way of starting the year to make sure that we can outwit, outsmart and outplay our enemies slash spam callers.
2014 is the year of the Horse, which according to Chinese culture, is a „symbol of speed and perseverance“ and people born in this year are – take note – „fabulous speakers who have a gift for getting through to other people“. Seems like this is the perfect recipe for the determined and creative spammers and scammers who pester us with everything illegal.
As demonstrated by numerous comments on tellows worldwide, nuisance calls have become a frequent and extensive problem around the globe. For an increasing number of users from the UK, PPI calls pose a particularly persistent and common issue and have been an often discussed topic on our tellows blog. The fact that – not without reason – most consumers have grown increasingly suspicious of telephone calls by unknown numbers is illustrated by comments such as those of Fifalde, who wrote about the number 01494590777:
This number tried calling my mobile several times yesterday – I don’t answer any numbers that I don’t recognise or have stored in my phone so I left it – no voicemail left which is a dead giveaway that its either PPI or something else. I just added it to my reject list. Hope this helps
PPI Calls as Cost Trap and Disturbance of Everyday Life
According to a new survey conducted by Citizens Advice, two thirds of British adults have received messages related to claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) – 98% of which were unsolicited and without permission. More than half also said they were contacted more than 10 times within the past year often considered a disturbance of everyday life for the recipients: whereas nearly a quarter received calls during dinner with family, 14% were interrupted at work.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizen Advice, noted that those who fall victim to a PPI claims scam suffer twice the damage – once with the bank and a second time when the claims firm doesn’t provide the full compensation the victim deserves. Reporting number 02086148283 as PPI claims scam, user SiM warned about possible costs as well:
PPI company that cons you into signing up with them and then takes 30% of whatever they find for you, as payment. They also use a computer dialer that calls numbers and then hangs up on you if an operator is not available to talk at you
Furthermore, Guy stressed that nuisance calls „are often a sign that the service on offer is not very good or is actually a scam“ and demands a ban for financial services firms from cold-calling to help consumers detect untrustworthy companies and scams.
PPI Claims Scam Approach and Target
More than 90% of the participants of the latest Citizen Advice survey stated that they were contacted by telphone regarding PPI claims with 40% receiving automated messages on their landline whereas 35% were contacted via text message on their mobile phone. According to previous research of the organisation, nuisance calls were not restricted to claims management companies alone: cold calls accounted for 35% of complaints concerning financial services.
As with most scams, the main aim is to gain access to the victim’s money. In the case of this particular scam, the victim is often persuaded to pay fees in advance for fake loans and sometimes, a person’s bank details have been passed on to other companies. With at least half of 30,000 complaints between April 2012 and March 2013 related to PPI and other financial services, users like Nikki who commented on the number 01625665142, are not alone with their grievances:
Ppi credit agent, told not interested 5 times, still continue to ask if I have had any texts or voicemails when asked what’s it to do with them they get angry an then say well have you checked your credit file, when told one last time I’m not interested the woman said fine an hung up. Don’t waste time answering to them
Numbers Related to PPI Claims Calls
Among the most recently reported and commented on telephone numbers connected to PPI claims on tellows are the following numbers:
To stay on the safe side, don’t provide any personal or financial information about yourself (and especially your bank account) on the telephone. Also don’t forget that you have the right to end the conversation by simply putting down the phone – especially if the person on the other end of the line seems to have a dubious agenda. If you have any information on a phone number that might be untrustworthy – PPI related or not – don’t hesistate to report it on tellows.
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.
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.
These are the most annoying callers of the week:
1. 01143072406 from Sheffield with a tellows score of 7
2. 01792306900 form Swansea with a tellows score of 6
3. 08451110202 using a premium rate number with a tellows score of 5
The calls continue and the spam calls keep on going!
The number one spammer offers free installation claiming to be an engineer. Whereas the caller from Swansea harasses his victims. And last but not least, calling from a premium rate number, a spammer enforcing his unsolicited calls by calling multiple times a week.
James reports saying:
They offered me free insulation and wanted to send an engineer over. It sounded like a scam! I’m sure it is!!
Whereas Allan Marriott says:
This is an unsolicited call, for over a year I have been trying to stop all companies that contact me via text messages or phone calls, without luck, I used 1 website to receive info for a loan and have been unable to stop the harassment since
Stay tuned for next week and have a nice spam free weekend hopefully!!