Category: Cold Calls

Dealing with telephone cold callers

The Worst UK Nuisance Callers

The figures are for one week in 2017 and show the huge volumes of nuisance calls happening.

BT has analysed the data from its call protect service, that lets people block nuisance callers, to generate these statistics.

Number Categories Volume Proportion
1 Accident claims 12,211,599 41%
2 Personal details (Scam) 5,439,781 18.50%
3 PPI 1,892,479 6.40%
4 Computer scam 3,593,103 12.60%
5 Debt collection 2,212,713 7.50%
Other 4,131,102 14%
Total 29,480,477

PPI Claims Company Fined £570,000

A company which used high pressure tactics to get hundreds of customers to make PPI claims in the UK has been fined more than half a million pounds by the Claims Management Regulator.

Rock Law Ltd, based in Swansea, has been fined almost £570,000 for coercing clients into signing contracts, without giving them enough time to understand the terms and conditions before taking unauthorised payments.

The Government changed the law in December 2014 to introduce financial penalties for firms found breaching the regulator’s rules of conduct. The fines can be up to 20% of their annual turnover, as well as having their trading licence suspended or removed.

Head of Claims Management Regulation Kevin Rousell said: “Our investigation showed that Rock Law Ltd were taking unauthorised payments which meant vulnerable people were at risk of being exploited. The size of this record fine demonstrates how seriously we take protecting the public from this exploitation.”

An investigation by the regulator found that Rock Law Ltd had consistently infringed rules. Under those rules, companies are not allowed to take any payments from customers unless they have signed a written contract to work with them – so that people cannot be pressured into making agreements.

Since 2010 the regulator has removed the licences from over a thousand Claims Management Companies, including 300 last year.

To complain to the regulator: go to  https://www.gov.uk/complain-about-claims-company

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Who Makes the Cold Calls

Claims management companies (CMCs) are the ones that make most of the cold calls – PPI, accident claims etc.

The insurance company AXA surveyed people to ask about the cold calls they receive.

The biggest subjects for cold calls are PPI, accidents in public places, accidents in the workplace and motor insurance claims. Between them, these account for most of the cold calls.

An estimated 12 million Britons are cold called per day – despite stricter rules and the recent Government crackdown.

These companies are ‘bombarding people with cold calls, emails, letters and text messages’ and ‘clearly contributing to be the bane of many people’s lives,’ according to the new report from AXA.

Around half of the 2,131 consumers asked by AXA said they think the regulations around CMCs need to be significantly tightened up.

Possible changes with significant support include:-

  • Cold calls from CMCs to be made illegal
  • A cap of between six and 10 per cent on the fees that CMCs can make, compared with about 30% that they currently charge.
  • Make it mandatory for calling companies to show the numbers they are calling from
  • A time limit on when consumers can claim back compensation after an event (most people think this should be 12 months).
  • A ban on automated calling

A quarter of people surveyed said they felt stressed by these calls from CMCs and 44 per cent were concerned about how the companies had got their details.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport, is looking into how these regulations can be tightened.

Between April 2014 and December 2015, the Claims Management Regulator issued 459 warnings, carried out 685 audits, started more than 150 investigations into specific firms and suspended 159 company licences.

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Lifestyle Survey Phone Calls

It seems to be stupid survey call season again.

I don’t know why, but these calls seem to happen for a period of weeks then stop for up to several months then start again. And this is the start – three calls yesterday and two today so far.

These callers are trained to be friendly starting with “How are you today Sir?”

Then a starter such as “I just have a few questions to ask you today please”

or “Please can you help me by answering just a  few simple questions about lifestyle?”

They ask questions to profile you – gender, age range, location etc. then the key questions are usually about things such as insurance, pets, children, safety, who supplies your electricity and gas, which supermarkets you shop at etc.

The questions themselves are mostly harmless, but these people sell the answers so if you answer “No you don’t have household insurance” then that makes you a good lead to sell to every home contents insurance company they can find.

The result is then lots more calls from insurance companies that you didn’t ask for.

Most of these survey companies operate from outside of the UK and claim they can ignore the fact that many of us are registered on the Telephone Preference Service and should not be called.  They are wrong in this belief and should not call TPS registered numbers.

Best not to answer such surveys unless you are happy to put up with the subsequent unwanted sales phone calls.

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The New BT Halo Phone

BT has launched BT Halo, a new home phone that allows customers to make and receive mobile calls from their home phone using Bluetooth technology.

This is one of the new generation wireless home phones that can integrate with your mobile phone and give you cheaper mobile calls from home.  It can even access your mobile phone contact list.

It has all of the usual features you’d expect with a home phone – an answer machine, hands free option etc and it is wireless.

It’s increasingly common now for new home phones to include call screening and the BT Halo includes BT’s Premium Nuisance Call Blocking service.

 

Whether its nuisance calls, marketing and sales calls or just callers you don’t want to talk to – it’s useful to be able to block them.

You can choose to block specific numbers or only let calls through from people you know. You do have to pay for the BT caller display service to get full functionality from the phone.

If you have problems with cold callers then do register with the Telephone Preference Service at www.tpsonline.org.uk and try one of the new generation home phones that come with call blocking features.

The BT Halo is available now from the BT Shop and a single unit is £99.99 and the BT Halo Twin is £139.99.

It’s not the cheapest of wireless home phones but worth a look, especially for the call blocking features.

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Nuisance Caller Prosecuted

Louis Kidd, 27, lives at home with his mother in Brighton but was the owner of Prodial – a company responsible for 46 million nuisance phone calls in the UK about PPI (Payment Protection Insurance).

Prodial’s computer systems would dial numbers and play a recorded message about claiming PPI. Anyone who responded would have their details sold on to Claims Management companies.

The automated calls, dialled from a computer server in the south east of England, hit homes across Britain at the rate of over 330,000 a day, at all times of the day and night between January 20 and August 21, 2015.

Complainants said they were called repeatedly and often there was no way to opt out even for people who had never had PPI.

The Information Commissioners Office estimated that Prodial was making as much as £100,000 per month and described the operation as ‘one of the worst cases’ they had ever come across.

The regulator has ordered Prodial to pay a £350,000 fine but the company was wound up before the prosecution and has no assets left. Liquidators are trying to determine where the money has disappeared to.

Previous Companies

Mr Kidd and Mr Carrington (his business partner)  both worked previously at Italk Affiliate Telecommunications, which is itself under investigation by the ICO for making between four million and six million calls a day using similar,  technology to Prodial.

Italk was raided by the ICO in March last year and faces a possible maximum fine of £500,000. By then, Mr Kidd and Mr Carrington had jumped ship.

There appears to be a group of people who know how to abuse the system and some have got away with it for a long time as this has happened with other companies as well.

The Result

Prodial has been fined and is out of business, but the people responsible are free to open more companies and able do the same thing again.

“There is a group of people who know how to abuse the system and some have got away with it for longer than others,” said a source familiar with the investigation.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Joanne Has a Persistent Cold Caller

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Joanne isn’t bothered by scam and spam emails – just presses delete for anything at all dodgy.

And she has fun with the Microsoft support scam phone calls that have been happening a lot recently.

Joanne says “With ‘Microsoft’ scam calls I tend to feign interest. I go along with what they’re saying, let them deliver their speech and then say ‘Oh, I don’t have a pc’.  Then they hang up, which I find amusing”.

But she has had problems with a very determined cold caller – Zenith Windows.

Constant calls annoyed Joanne and no amount of explaining she wasn’t interested would put them off. She tried a high pitched whistle – still they called.

She threatened to report them for harrassment – no effect.

She threatened a solicitor’s letter – still they called.

She complained to their head office – no change.

When she moved house, she assumed that would be the end of Zenith calls, but they tracked her down through a previous employer.

Fortunately  for Joanne, her ex employer realised the situation and denied knowing Joanne.

When does cold calling become harassment?
When does cold calling become threatening behaviour?

Not good.

Julie Deals With Cold Callers By Being Caring

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Julie is a committed Christian and does not want to make life difficult for cold callers.

Her natural response to such callers is to talk with them.

After their opening pitch, she asks something such as

“I’m curious, why did you choose this job?

Or “Shame, it must be really hard calling people up with a marketing script all day long”

And she is genuinely interested in the answers.

They do tend to end the call but if they stay on and start to talk then Julie takes the opportunity to tell them about her Christian beliefs and how that affects her life.

When busy, Julie does just say No to callers and puts the phone down as most people do, but that doesn’t get your number taken off their calling lists so you will get more calls.

Harry Bombards The Cold Caller With Questions

Confused Cold Caller

Harry didn’t like being pestered by cold callers and didn’t like being asked lots of irrelevant questions.

And he figured the cold callers wouldn’t like it either.

So, as soon as they started into their scripted questions, he bombarded them with his own questions.

“Who are you”

“Why are you phoning me?”

“How did you get my phone number?”

“Why are you wasting my time?”

“Who said you could phone me?”

“Why should I answer your questions?”

“Who told you to phone me?”

The cold callers usually recognise they are losing this battle and give up.