Category: Cold Calls

Dealing with telephone cold callers

BT Stop Callers

BT has a range of services to help you block unwanted callers.

Apart from annoying friends and relatives, most of these calls may be from cold callers i.e. marketing and sales calls from companies you have never dealt with.

There are also the scam callers pretending to be from an organisation you may deal with e.g. claiming to be from BT checking on your line and asking you to confirm your details first.

There are malicious callers and there are time wasters.

Telephone Preference Service

First, you should also ask the company to stop calling you and remove you from their calling list.

If that doesn’t work then register with the Telephone Preference Service. Once registered then you should only receive Marketing calls from companies you have agreed can contact you.

Of course, criminals don’t obey these rules.

You can register with the Telephone Preference Service by signing up for BT Privacy at Home at We also offer Caller Display which allows you to see the number of the person who’s calling. BT Privacy at Home and Caller Display are both free. You can sign up to them at

Scam calls

These are commonly made by scammers pretending to be from BT.

They may ask you for personal information or want access to your computer. Don’t be fooled, this is fraud.

For more information, or to report a scam call, visit


  • Stay calm and don’t talk to the caller
  • Don’t give away any personal information or answer the phone with your name or number
  • Keep your answerphone message short and to the point
  • Keep note of these calls

If you’re getting abusive, threatening or obscene calls, then you should report them to the police. It will help if you note down the date, time and number that called, along with any other information.

If you’re receiving a lot of malicious calls you can call our Nuisance Call Advice Line on 0800 661 441 (8am to 10pm Monday-Friday and 9am to 6pm on a Saturday).

Calling features that can help:

  • BT Call Protect – sends nuisance and unwanted calls to a junk voicemail
  • BT Privacy at Home includes registration to the Telephone Preference Service >
  • Caller Display – lets you see the number that’s calling you before you answer
  • BT 1471 – dial 1471 to check the number that last called you
  • Ex-directory – take your number off the telephone directory

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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Automated Scammer Calls

PPI callers and many others have been using automated systems for years that call and ask you questions then get you to press a button to be connected to an agent.

Automated systems are a lot cheaper than staff so for the criminals engaged in large scale scamming, this can be the most efficient way.

Action Fraud Technical Support Scam Calls

Action Fraud say people are receiving cold-calls from fraudsters claiming to represent Action Fraud. When the calls are answered, an automated voice asks the responder to “press 1 if you have made a report to Action Fraud.” When the responder presses 1, they are transferred to a fraudster.

Victims are informed that their computers have been hacked, which has led to their online bank account being compromised and funds being withdrawn. One particular victim was told that £40,000 had fraudulently left their account.

The scammer may ask for remote access to the victim’s computer, via a remote access tool. Once the scammer has that, they may be able to access confidential information, login and passwords, credit card details etc.


This scam sees people called randomly with an automated message warning that they are under investigation by HMRC and need to call the number given or “face serious legal consequences.”

If you call back the crooks will likely ask for your bank details and make off with your money.

HMRC does not make threatening phone calls. HMRC will call people about outstanding tax bills, and sometimes use automated messages, however it would include your taxpayer reference number.

Sophie’s Story

Sophie says

“I have had an automated phone call from this number 081233472243. It was informing me that my internet connection would be cut at 1pm today, press button 1 to speak to an agent or button 2 to stay connected. I chose to hang up.

This is the first time I have had an automated call, I have had a lot of calls lately concerning my internet connection, I always hang up or sometimes they hang up when I tell them I don’t believe they’re from TalkTalk. They always ask me to turn my computer on, I always refuse.”

Good job she didn’t fall for the scam.

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Why do people call then say nothing or put the phone down?

This happens to everyone very occasionally – usually someone dialled a wrong number and realised and put the phone down or didn’t recognise the voice answering your phone and realised their mistake and put the phone down.

But, this can be a regular occurrence and then the reasons are more concerning.

Automated Calling Systems

A lot of marketing companies and scammers use automated diallers that call people in turn on a list. To maximise use of their staff, they set the diallers to call numerous people at the same time in the hope that at least some will answer the phone and those get put through to operatives.

However, this method also means many people will get silent calls when all operatives are already on the line to other people.

The law changed some years ago to outlaw this practice and most companies comply, but criminals don’t.

The law on automated calls is quite strict. They must not make an automated marketing call – that is, a call made by an automated dialling system that plays a recorded message – unless the person has specifically consented to receive this type of call from you. General consent for marketing, or even consent for live calls, is not enough – it must specifically cover automated calls.

All automated calls must include their name and a contact address or freephone number. They must also allow their number (or an alternative contact number) to be displayed to the person receiving the call.

Any message left by an automated system must specify the name of the calling company and give a number you can call to opt out of further calls.

If the automated message does not contain these, then assume it’s a scam and block the number.

Internet Calls

Internet-based calling technology, also known as Voice Over Internet Protcol (VoIP), is used by millions of consumers globally to make phone calls free or cheaply every year.

But it’s also used by scammers as it’s cheaper than phone calls and it makes it easy for the criminals to hide or fake (this is called spoofing) the number they are calling from.  For this reason, do not trust what shows as the callers number.

Most silent calls nowadays come from these computer calling systems overseas.

Telephone Preference Service

See for more details on TPS

At present, landline customers can request to have nuisance calls blocked by registering on the Telephone Preference Service. The free opt out service allows you to record your preference on the official register and not receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.

Companies (including charities) who choose not to check and then subsequently call a number on the register can be fined up to £6,500 for each registered number they call.

Makers of repeated abandoned and/or silent calls can be reported to Ofcom which has powers including fining the caller up to £2 million.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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When You Know It’s a Scam Call

Someone has called you with the intention of cheating you – stealing from you. Fortunately, you realise this and then have to decide what to do about this.

So, what do you do next?

The simple answer is to just put the phone down but it’s very likely they will call back – either immediately or later in the day.

You could politely tell them you know it’s a scam and put the phone down.

However, when you’re polite to the scammers, they don’t give up – they or fellow scammers are likely to keep calling back, trying to wear you down.

Some of us choose to give the caller a mouthful of bad language – shout and swear at them, tell them exactly what you think of someone who phones up trying to steal from vulnerable people. That might make you feel a little better, so why not try it.

Or you could decide to play them at their own game and waste their time.

Time-Wasting Suggestions

  1. “You say my computer is breaking the law and you’re going to help me. Thank you. I’ll just get my glasses” and leave the caller hanging on till they get bored and give up. Any repeat callers – use the same trick till they give up.
  2. Act excited and really interested. Then tell them to just wait for a minute while you answer the door. Then put your phone down and just forget about it.
  3. Sell them something imaginary. “How about I give you a great deal; I can send you two boxes of my organic homemade candles for ninety dollars and we both walk away from this as the winner” and just spend the rest of the call dodging their questions and continuing to try to sell whatever you want. Usually they give up after a few minutes, so don’t expect to actually sell anything. If they agree to buy something in order to get your address – give fake details.
  4. Keep saying “can you hold on a second?” And then put them on hold for five minutes. Get back on, say a few words, let them start talking, then say “oh dear, can you hang on again? Be right back”. Keep repeating till they give up.
  5. If you tell them you just have to go get your credit card – they will hang on for longer before giving up.
  6. Jack says he usually just start talking to them about really weird but totally made up personal problems.
  7. Acting dumb can be fun – ‘I don’t understand’ repeated each time they ask you a question can really drive the caller mad.

Be creative and really waste their time.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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Deal with Cold Callers by Questioning

We all get fed up with cold callers – trying to get us to buy products and services we have no interest in or the criminals attempting to get personal information, tricking, lying and conning for their living.

You can slam the phone down or decide to have a bit of fun at their expense and waste their time as they waste yours.

The cold callers expect to make a connection with you by asking simple opening questions such as ‘How are you today?’ then moving on to getting your personal details and/or convincing you to buy something or transfer money to them etc.

Cold callers have a script to follow – their set of questions and expected answers and if you behave unexpectedly – they don’t know what to do and will often give up i.e. put the phone down.

There are endless things you can do to confuse them, such as

  1. Keep a take-away menu by the phone and start reading it out – place an order and ignore anything they say – just keep reading it out. E.g. I’d like to order 3 spring rolls followed by the Peking Duck with egg fried rice and 2 portions of crispy noodles and some of that seaweed stuff . Plus … and so on.
  2. Say pardon to everything and just keep saying that when asked anything
  3. Say ‘I don’t speak English’ to whatever they ask
  4. Invent your own religion and try hard to convert them. I’m glad you called today as I have the good news of the 3rd coming of Quixacoatl to tell you about. Now, Quixacoatl created the earth in 5 minutes and he’s due back tomorrow to collect all of the believers. And so on.
  5. Accuse them of breaking into your garden and damaging your flowers. Claim you know it’s them. The more ridiculous your story the better.
  6. Say Thank you for calling the PPI hotline – we can get your thousands of pounds back. I just need you name, address and bank details first. You’ll hear the phone slam down
  7. In these days of Coronavirus, accuse them of breaking the restrictions by not wearing a mask on the phone. They cannot prove otherwise.

Any unexpected behaviour will do the trick – so confuse them.

Or you can confuse them with genuine questions

So, you could for example, tell them you are busy at the moment but will call them back at home that evening and ask for their home phone number.  You wont get it – unless they fancy you of course.

If they say they can’t give out a home number then that leads in to the comment  “I presume  you don’t want anyone bothering you at home, right? Now you know how I feel!”

Or how about this example:-

“while I’ve got you on the line, I’ll just ask you a couple of very brief questions?

Where are you based?

Who do you work for?

What computer systems do you use?

What is your name?

What is the name of your manager?

It’s amazing how people who want to know so much about you are so unwilling to give you information about themselves.

So, annoy the cold callers by asking them personal questions they don’t want to answer.

If you have any good ways to get rid of the cold callers or have fun at their expense – do let me know, by email.

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