Due to the increasing number of complaints regarding unwanted marketing messages and abandoned, silent phone calls, the UK Committee on Culture, Media and Sports has recently published its report on nuisance calls since it started its inquiry in July 2013.
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
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
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:
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
As most of our tellows users know all too well, incessant calls from telemarketers or call centres have become a genuine nuisance. Thus, services to put a stop to these type of unsolicited calls enjoy increasing popularity. Aside from apps such as the tellows app to detect spam and scam calls, there is the option to register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to prevent unwanted and cold calls.
A Scam Claiming to Stop Spam
However, not all service provider are trustworthy: some fraudsters try to take advantage of the fact that many consumers are plagued by unsolicited calls. The police advise to be extremely cautious of callers claiming to provide services to prevent unwanted calls. Claiming to be aware of the fact that you have been bothered by numerous unsolicited calls recently, the caller attempts to offer information and appliances in order to stop the calls.
In some instances, the caller may even know some personal information such as your address, the bank you use or your credit/debit card number. Some of our tellows users have made similar experiences as Betty Sinclair, who allocated the number 07825874525 to BT, who reported:
Unknown number sent numerous messages, knew details about myself which unnerved me.
Generally, the purpose of the call is to obtain further information regarding your credit/debit card such as the issue or expiry date, account number, security code, to access your credit card account or use for identity theft.
Recognizing and Dealing with the Scammers
Sometimes even seemingly insignificant details can be a clue that you are targeted by scammers. Therefore you should be wary, how the caller identifies him- or herself: even though the scammers often claim to be calling from BT directly, only BT Privacy at Home offers the telephone preference service. Similarly, user spammed, who commented on the number 01274802868, noticed:
The caller said they were calling from British Telecom. As a former worker for BT they stopped calling themselves British Telecom back in the early 90s.
To avoid falling a victim to these types of scams, you should never give bank or personal details on the telephone, especially if you have doubts about the legitimacy of the call. If the caller claims to be from your bank, phone them on the number that you normally use or know to be legitimate to confirm that the call you receive was genuine.
Furthermore, you should be aware that if you receive unsolicited calls in spite of being registered at TPS, the calls are probably scam calls as well. User Paula, for instance, wrote about the number 00443562780913:
The person who called, spoke English with an accent, said she was not trying to sell anything but merely conducting a survey. She seemed to know both my name and when I asked her how they have these information, since I’m registered with TPS, she got evasive and asked if I could just answer her some questions.
In case you have provided personal and financial information to what you suspect to be scammers, you may contact your bank and, if necessary, ask them to issue a new credit/debit card. Moreover, you can report the scammers to the police at Action Fraud as well as on tellows to warn others who may be contacted by the scammers.
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.
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.
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.
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:
… and if you should know of any others – report them here!
There’s not much news on the top UK spam ranks:
Insurance scam business is still flousishing, especially with the number 01932504981 that is still relentlessly trying to sell car insurance on behalf of Van compare.
User Odd call‘s comment speaks of the incompetence of the caller:
Answered and they said calling from car insurance company and that my insurance was up for renewal and was this right? I said “I have no idea” the guy on the other end said “oh my gosh!” and hung up. I have no idea what he thought I said, but it was different for a sales team to hang up on me rather than the other way round.
We got a silent call number on rank two for a change. Best comment of the week by scamhater says it all:
My advice is to always do what I do with these scam type calls;
1. use your phone to make a recording of 1 second of silence. (keep this 1 second silence in your ringtone or media folder)
2. save the recording and call it scamtone or something.
3. then enter the scammy number into your address book as ; scam1, scam2, scam 3 etc. Each one represents a different scammy number that you get over time.
4. finally, associate the 1 second of silence with each scammy number as a ringtone.
Simple – they can ring and ring and if you dont hear it you dont pick it up. If it is associated to a name ; Scam1 etc, you will never be tempted to ring it back from your call history.
Last week’s rank-3-number stayed where it is, still harassing people in the UK at all times of night. There are some hints that such silent calls at night could originate from an overseas call center, probably in India. Some companies are hiring telephone assistants in countries, where workforce is cheaper for them. They obviously did not keep the time zones in mind.
And as we already emphasized a million times, silent calls proved to be the precursors of real telemarketing or scam calls – so watch out!
Stay tuned and keep eyes and ears open for more spam numbers!
Were are back again to bring you the top 3 spammers of the week. Shame on:
Last week’s second and third rank numbers moved one rank up. The new most active spam number is 01932504981 trying to sell car insurance on behalf of Van compare.
Dorothy reported last week:
Never heard of them, phone number not normally given. But then again all I got was someone that sounded stoned and hung up, but when i checked this number they said it was about car insurance.
This week’s second worst spammer has been well known to us already. We already found out that it must be a slightly unprofessional call centre. If they are not giggling or leaving offensive messages on people’s answer machines, they are tying their best to sell a wide range of products: air conditioners, home security alarms and solar panels.
Short comment by user 111a:
Rude people making harrassment calls, keep hanging up if you speak.
The last but not least annoying number is 02073286956, providing thousands of households with harassing silent calls. You pick up, but there is no-one on the other end.
Silent calls proved to be the precursors of real telemarketing calls – so watch out!
Remember: Never ever tell confidential personal information to telemarketers or fraudsters phishing for information!