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Have you been scammed into paying to register on the TPS?

 Article added: 17/03/2016

If you’ve been receiving lots of nuisance calls then you may have been tempted to take up the services of one of a number of commercial companies who promise to help, but should you?

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is law, but much to the disappointment and misunderstanding of consumers it does not physically prevent companies from calling them.

Contrary to some of the popular press, registering on the TPS does work. Where it falls down is that the TPS does not apply to foreign companies and of course, where have many of the UK’s call centres gone? Abroad!

So yes, there is room for improvement.

And now…..

The fact that the TPS does not physically stop calls and the fact that it does not apply to foreign call centres has led to some businesses to see these problems as an opportunity to swindle unwitting consumers.

Promising to stop nuisance calls

Ironically , many of these companies use cold calling to sell their services.

Some of these are straightforward scams. Overseas companies call claiming to work for the TPS, or a similar-sounding organisation, and ask for personal information or credit card details. Never give these out – the TPS is a free service and they will never ask for personal details.

Sometimes they will try selling you call blockers that connect to your phone. These aren’t scams and blockers can be partially effective, but it’s often not clear who you’re speaking to, what you’re buying or what you can really expect from the devices in terms of blocking calls.

Some call blockers are not made for the UK and can cause interference with UK telephones, wireless and broadband connections.

A membership scheme is another common con. They will try and convince you that signing up to a regular monthly payment will be your best option. In some cases this can cost around £200 a year.

A number of companies, including Cold Call Elimination, CPR Global, Stop These Calls (Point One Marketing) and the Telecom Preference Service (who also goes by the name Telecom Protection Service) offer call-prevention services. They claim that for around £40 a year they can stop nuisance calls by circulating their own do-not-call lists. It sounds real, but frankly it’s a load of rubbish.

So how does the scam work?

There are three common cons operated by companies like these:

- For those not yet registered on the TPS

You receive a call trying to encourage you to register on the TPS, for a fee. They will feed you any amount of sales pitch about how it will prevent calls and so on. All they want is your money.

Some, but not all, will then register you on the TPS, which is free.

If they are caught, they will say that the fee you paid is an ‘administration fee’ for the work they performed i.e. calling you and then entering your details on the TPS register on your behalf, which remember, is actually free.

- For those already registered on the TPS

You receive a call trying to encourage you to upgrade or renew your TPS registration. They will feed you any amount of sales banter to pressure you that this upgrade/renewal will be better than the basic registration. It won’t be, there’s no such thing.

They will have your name and address, which is not terribly difficult to obtain from things like the phone book. They then ask you for your card details suggesting that they will use these as your reference for the TPS or for payment of your renewal fee. If you question them at any point during the call they tend to get abusive and hang up the phone.

For the record, TPS registrations are FREE and do not expire (unless you're registered as a business in which case you do need to renew it once a year).

- For anyone whether you’re registered on the TPS or not

You receive a call explaining that regardless of the TPS (remember they often call people who are both registered and not registered on the TPS) what you really need is a device…which magically they can sell you….for a fee!

Many of these companies actually target registered TPS users.

All of these may involve a one off payment, a regular subscription service or the purchase of a call blocking device with over exaggerated claims on its effectiveness.

What to watch out for?

Here are some key pointers to watch out for when you think you might be being scammed:

  • The TPS will never call you - By now, we hope, most people will have realised that their banks will rarely, if ever, call them and if they do they will never ask you for your card details or pin number over the phone. That’s a con so old that you’d think it wouldn’t work anymore, but people are still falling victim to it today. Similarly, the TPS will never call you unless you have called them first. So anyone claiming to be calling from the TPS should immediate put you on your guard.
  • The TPS is free - No matter what anyone else tells you, registration on the TPS is free. It always has been and, as far as we can tell, it always will be. There are no upgrades and no special treatments available. It’s one size fits all and it’s all free.
  • Buy a device? – There are a variety of devices out there. Some work better than others, but many are cumbersome and whilst they can help reduce calls, few work as well as people expect.

Have your say

Have you been called by one of these companies? Did you part with money for their services? How have you found them?

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