back to article Brit regulator pats self on back over nuisance call reduction: It's just 4 billion now!

UK communications regulator Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office have awarded themselves a pat on the back for reducing the amount of nuisance calls in the islands to a mere 3.9 billion last year. In an update on the joint action plan to tackle nuisance calls and texts, it said: “Ofcom’s latest estimate is that …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Fines

    In 2017, the ICO issued 29 civil monetary penalties totalling £2.8m

    And how much of that was actually paid?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fines

      The ICO talks a great deal but says very little.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Fines

      They've been taking steps to prevent companies phoenixing over the last 12-18 months, so "more than last report"

    3. saabpilot
      FAIL

      Well well, the corruption does on and up

      Fining the pittances it has, just isn't working. The business model is still profitable, else we would be having 60 call per person statistic. The ICO has got to grow some balls and step up to the plate.

      Meanwhile the only solution I've found is to swear continuously at the callers in a non-stop barrage inc.insulting their parentage.

      Curiously I've only had to do it about half a dozen times for a significant >80% drop in the nue-sence calls so I'm guessing there are only a small number of firms doing this, but pretending to be lots of different organisations.

      Shame on the ICO that it doesn't seem capable of gumming them to death.

  2. frank ly

    60 calls a person

    That's just over one a week on average. I'm TPS registered (landline and mobile) and very rarely get nuisance calls so some people out there must be suffering badly. Is it the TPS registration that protects me or the fact that I don't call lots of people or organisations?

    1. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: 60 calls a person

      I'd get about one a month, though sometimes there's a run of them, also TPS registered. I think some of the worse actors just block dial numbers, rather than necessarily getting yours specifically from somewhere.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 60 calls a person

        I am on TPS.

        I am currently getting several a week of the "International" recorded message from "Green Deal Funding" about double glazing replacements. This has been going on for months.

        Using "5" to find out more gave a call centre mobile number with a Scottish accent - with a promise to take me off the list. Reported the calls via the ICO web site.

        That was then followed up by another call yesterday from a mobile number 07804430544 with a Scottish accent. After I cut the sales spiel short - they confirmed the company name as "Green Deal Funding" - and promised to take me off the list.

        A "silent call" has come in several times recently from 01254460171 - which others have reported as burglar alarm marketing.

        What is suspicious about all the CLI numbers is they often contain "44" somewhere even more than once. That happens to be the UK International prefix - so I doubt they are their genuine numbers.

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: 60 calls a person

      On old landline number I was on TPS and still used to still get plenty of "junk" calls.

      Got a shiny new landline number (when did a total switch of phone line and ISP), ex directory, and get zero junk calls (so have not bothered about TPS on new number) - I'm guessing this is calm before the storm and even though ex directory at some point number will be leaked or brute forced and I will need TPS

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: 60 calls a person

        Trouble is, when you get a new landline number all your friends, acquaintances and other contacts lose touch unless you notify them all.

        As I have never owned a mobile phone, I rely on my landline a bit more than the average person.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: 60 calls a person

          "Trouble is, when you get a new landline number all your friends, acquaintances and other contacts lose touch unless you notify them all."

          They have my email, that's all they need.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: 60 calls a person

      My mum was getting loads of nuisance calls. The number has signficantly dropped since she went on TPS but she still gets a few. The thing is: you shouldn't have to register with TPS not to receive nuisance calls.

      The biggest problem with the fines is enforceability. But the regulator has much better tools available for enforcement. The telephone network is, at the end of the day, a pay to play network. Networks that consistently allow scammers to call UK numbers can be blocked completely which means they have an incentive to clamp down themselves. Seems to work okay in other countries.

    4. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: 60 calls a person

      We sometimes get bursts of one or two every day. (We've been TPS-registered since soon after that service began). It's particularly annoying when they call at or around 0900, when some of us night owls are still trying to sleep.

      "Hello". "Hello, is this Mr. Smith?" "Who wants to know?" "This is Jennifer/Roger calling from BT" [strong, almost incomprehensible Indian accent].

      "Click".

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: 60 calls a person

        "Hello". "Hello, is this Mr. Smith?" "Who wants to know?" "This is Jennifer/Roger calling from BT" [strong, almost incomprehensible Indian accent].

        "Click".

        s/Click/Fuck off and die;

    5. Adelio

      Re: 60 calls a person

      I have been TPS registered for MANY years and I still get lots of nusance calles.

      We used to get an international call every day about the same time (withno one on the line)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 60 calls a person

        "We used to get an international call every day about the same time (withno one on the line)"

        IME, if you answer before three rings, it stays dead, if you answer after five rings it stays dead. Computer makes the calls at a rate it "thinks" operators are available to take the calls, assuming a certain proportion will go to answerphone (they get dropped) or ring for too long (also get dropped after about 10 rings), but if more people actually answer than operators are available, you get a dead/silent call.

        The computer will also take note of the what happened, eg was call answered but no operator available? This must be a good time of day to call again. Was call not answered at all? Try again at a different time of day.

        What really needs to happen is the companies using the "lead generators" should be fined too for not doing due diligence and monitoring on the people they contract to make the calls in the first place. Since it's all "computer data" GDPR might come into play.

    6. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: 60 calls a person

      If the average person gets 60 calls a year, I feel sorry for who ever's getting the 50-odd I'm missing out on.

      Mind you, most of the ones I do get are silent calls from random, but legit looking, numbers. As soon as I make a noise, the call drops. I'm not sure if these are malfunctioning spam calls, a weird stalker, or just errors in the network.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: 60 calls a person

        The way spam call centres work is that they have a warehouse full of people in cubicles with a phone and a script.

        At one end is an automatic dialling machine. This dials numbers, and every time someone picks up the phone it allocates the call to the next free spammer in their cubicle, and continues calling.

        Now the spammer may be having a smoke, or just bored, and may not pick the call up. So, after a pause of 10secs or so the line is dropped.

        That's usually the reason for most voice-free calls....

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: 60 calls a person

          My clever Fritz!Box router handles all my telephone calls. Any junk call numbers are added to a list of unwanted callers. If they call again, they're redirected to another source of junk calls - BUPA.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: 60 calls a person

            Any junk call numbers are added to a list of unwanted callers.

            This is great if it's possible but it assumes the number is provided by the calling party. There are still numerous good reasons for this not to be the case.

          2. Gerry 3
            Thumb Down

            Re: 60 calls a person

            @ AMBxx

            Any junk call numbers are added to a list of unwanted callers.

            You're probably wasting your time if you're relying on the displayed number or what 1471 tells you. The number will be probably be spoofed, and they'll use a different one every time, just like spammers never use the same email source address twice.

            1. Uberior

              Re: 60 calls a person

              Just play the wildcard game.

              Anything that starts 44

              Anything that starts 0203, 08, 0161, or any dialing code in Wales.

              It pretty much covers most of the phone spam.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: 60 calls a person

            "My clever Fritz!Box router handles all my telephone calls. "

            So does mine. The good part is that it has a seamless SIP facility that will link into various providers.

            I have a 070 number with charge rate set to £1.50/minute that forwards to a SIP account that forwards to Fritz. For the most part if businesses insist on a contact number, that's the one they get.

            If I get an unwanted marketing call coming in on that SIP account, its gets strung out as long as possible. I don't get any income from it, but I'm an evil bastard. The 070 providers laughed when I explained why I wanted it set to the maximum charge.

        2. Mr Dogshit

          Re: 60 calls a person

          No! Really? You don't say! I had no idea!

    7. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: 60 calls a person

      "Is it the TPS registration that protects me or the fact that I don't call lots of people or organisations?"

      People who are registered with the TPS get on average twice as many calls as people who are not, so it is worse than useless.

      1. Gerry 3
        Alert

        Re: 60 calls a person

        Yes, the TPS list seems a good way for scammers and fraudsters to identify numbers that aren't spare or allocated to fax machines, burglar alarms etc and may well be answered by a vulnerable person.

        Most of my nuisance callers don't ask for me by name, so the TPS could well be the source.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 60 calls a person

        katrinab: "People who are registered with the TPS get on average twice as many calls as people who are not, so it is worse than useless."

        Have you a reference for that statistic or did you just make it up?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The landline is now a liability

    What was once a modern marvel, the home phone is now a serious vector for scammers.

    I'd estimate that well over 70% of all landline calls we get are from scammer call centres.

    Significantly over represented by actors from the sub continent it seems.

    If I could put a block on all VOIP I would gladly do it.

    1. 0laf Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: The landline is now a liability

      I only have a land line to get broadband. If I could drop it I would but on investigation I can't, not yet anyway.

      After Cock-wombles Plusnet took six weeks to turn on the phone line, and after they had issued me with no less than six new numbers in those weeks the very first call I got (FSM's honest truth) was "We understand you've been in an accident".

      And since then I'd suggest that very nearly 100% of calls have been either accident claims scams, green-deal or PPI. The the rest have been wrong numbers bar 2 calls from my Mum.

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: The landline is now a liability

        bar 2 calls from my Mum

        That's a bit harsh - what did she do?

      2. batfink Silver badge

        Re: The landline is now a liability

        Yep. Appoximately 100% of the calls on my landline are scammers. Maybe 10 a week, and I'm TOS registered.

        So what do our friends in the Gummint propose to do to shut the door on the overseas call centres? It's all very well attacking the onshore ones, but in my experience, they're a small proportion of the total.

        1. Jonathon Green

          Re: The landline is now a liability

          “So what do our friends in the Gummint propose to do to shut the door on the overseas call centres? It's all very well attacking the onshore ones, but in my experience, they're a small proportion of the total.”

          One of a very small number of acceptable uses for a drone strike on a non-military target...

      3. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: The landline is now a liability

        I have two ADSL landlines (to double my bandwidth). Neither has a phone attached.

        If mom wants to talk to me, she can bloody well call the phone number I gave her. Which is my cell phone.

        (Actually, I don't think there's cell service in the afterlife, but when she WAS alive. You know.)

        As for nuisance calls on my cell... I probably get them about the rate described here, more or less. But I use an app to help screen the calls. Most of the time they don't make it to the ringer.

        https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.mistergroup.muzutozvednout

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: The landline is now a liability

        > the very first call I got (FSM's honest truth) was "We understand you've been in an accident".

        I had the same experience with my latest mobile phone contract. Within 25 minutes of turning it on.

    2. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: The landline is now a liability

      <pedant>

      Blocking VoIP is easy - just block the SIP ports at your firewall

      </pedant>

      If you really mean that you want to reject calls originating from SIP providers into the PSTN, then that's something else. Have you looked at BT Call Protect, its their nuisance call filtering service.

      The other alternative thats not simple to set up but is a lot of fun involves :

      1. A Raspberry Pi with RaspPBX (Asterisk) on it to act as the PABX

      2. An FXO (phone) interface to receive phone calls to a PABX

      3. An FXS (PABX) interface so you can plug in a phone to receive the cleaned calls

      4. Lenny to talk to the caller.

      5. Some config in Asterisk to decide what caller ID's / types go where.

      The other option to Lenny is the awful Abyss music on hold

      Now you can have lots of fun with them instead.

      Alternately, don't bother answering the phone and let voicemail cope with them, there are plenty of options here.

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: The landline is now a liability

        My folks have BT Call Protect.

        They're very pleased with it. It's probably the only bit of praise I've heard directed at BT. Ever.

        They got a lot of nuisance calls and now none.

  4. David Nash Silver badge

    The most effective way to block them...

    ...is to have one of those phones that screens calls automatically by asking who they are before ringing. Works a treat for me, no spam calls at all now.

    1. Thoguht Silver badge

      Re: The most effective way to block them...

      I keep on getting calls from companies trying to sell me those phones.

  5. ahnlak

    Paltry Fines

    "The largest penalty - of £400,000 - was against Keurboom Communications Ltd for making over 99 million unlawful automated marketing calls"

    I can't help feeling that if they got fines closer to the order of £1 per unlawful calls, they might pause for thought a little more. £400k might have been the largest penalty, but it's still insultingly tiny.

  6. derfer

    Don’t the telecoms company get a little bit of money for every call they connect? At around four billion a year I’d presume this isn’t chump change, so I’d guess they don’t really want it fixed.

    A little like Royal Mail delivering spam through my letter box every week - it helps to keep all those Posties employed

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "it helps to keep all those Posties employed"

      IIRC a RM postman was disciplined or fired for not delivering unaddressed junk mail to elderly people on his round who didn't want it.

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Indeed an old school colleague of mine was sacked and threatened with arrest for failing to deliver junk mail.

      2. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

        That's terrible! How do the elderly folks keep their fires lit in winter if the postman doesn't bring them for lighters for free?

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Now that could provide an interesting way to limit these calls.

      As the telcos record the metadata for all calls through their network it would be relatively simple to identify bulk calling and just switch it off. Legitimate bulk callers (if any exist) would have to register with their telco.

      Simple penalty, money raised from each call is credited to the call recipients phone bill.

      Make the telcos pay and they'll find ways to stop it overnight.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Ruled right out

        Oooooooh no - that would infringe the "human rights" of the offending corporations.

  7. Dabooka Silver badge

    So how come I don't get any?

    Seriously, on landline or mobile, I don't get them.. And I've had my mobile number since before the '07' prefix was added and got it in a bundle on One2One, so it's fair to say it's been a while.

    Not only me, but I can't think of anyone I know who get's these calls, so I'm assuming some poor sods get 100s of the things. So what are they doing that gets them the grief? I can't help but wonder if at least in part somewhat self inflicted....?

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: So how come I don't get any?

      "I can't help but wonder if at least in part somewhat self inflicted....?"

      You mean like a girl who goes out in public with a short skirt, or a bloke who uses an expensive smartphone?

      1. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: So how come I don't get any?

        No, like people who send their mobile numbers to any 'promotion' on Facebook. People who text for info on PPI claims, and people who insert their numbers on every piece of online marketing.

        So absolutely nothing like your crass and disingenuous comment.

        So despite the inevitable down votes no one has any ideas how the disparity comes about? It's a genuine observation.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: So how come I don't get any?

      Serious reply.

      Our landline was a new number in 2013 when we moved, there is a chance it was used before. It's been given to two close family members only otherwise people are told to call our mobiles. The line is only really there for VDSL. It does get occasional calls (perhaps once a month) but since we don't answer it I've no idea whether they're spam or not. If they are junk it's likely an auto dialler block dialling every number in our STD code than because someone has that number from a previous subscriber.

      My mobile number is from 2005 so likely new and unused before, but I'm also picky who I give it to (I have an older burner number to give to companies who demand one). It gets about 5 spam texts a year which are reported to my network but otherwise most of the spam I get on that is from my sodding network operator!

      So I agree with you - not sure if it's me but I don't get many and consider myself lucky.

  8. hellwig Silver badge

    60 a year? The UK Sounds like Paradise!

    I just don't answer my cell phone unless it's a number in my contacts. If it's important, they'll leave a voicemail.

    We have a free "land line" from T-Mobile, but we don't use it, no one knows the number, so the several calls we get a week are entirely spam. We did notice that T-Mobile at least started marking some calls as "potential scammer", which is nice. It's also easier to just unplug the thing and move on with our lives.

    Even a small fee (a few cents a call) would basically put an end to this B.S. wouldn't it? I know people have proposed that for email before. Make exceptions for A) contacts that I choose [none of that pre-established business relationship B.S.] B) government entities and C) nope, I think that's about it.

    Maybe I can sign up for a 900 (toll) number for my personal use?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: 60 a year? The UK Sounds like Paradise!

      In most countries unwanted advertising (mailshots or phone calls) is illegal. Not of course in the Good Ole USA!

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: 60 a year? The UK Sounds like Paradise!

        In the USA, unwanted phone advertising is covered by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

        You should look into it. $500 per call ($1500 for wilful violations) makes it a fairly lucrative hobby to go after violators.

  9. Archtech Silver badge

    If government was serious about this...

    ... they could easily stop it. I mean, the "security services" know perfectly well whenever each of us takes a dump or combs her hair - not to mention reading all our emails and listening in to our phone calls. They certainly - admittedly - have all the metadata, including which number called which other number when.

    So they could easily call in the SAS or whatever and take those bastards out if they wanted. (For the soft-hearted among us, make that the Special Law Services).

    1. apveening Silver badge

      Re: Special Law Services

      Just make that Special Revenue Services ;)

  10. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    FAIL

    The ICO is useless

    Can't even stop O2 from calling me about switching my phone to them despite the number being on the TPS list. They are just not interested.

  11. JakeMS

    Typical Marketing Call

    They usually go like this:

    *work phone rings*

    *sighs*

    *picks up phone*

    Me: Hello (company name) how may I help you?

    Them: Hi I'm calling from X I was just wondering if you send parcels?

    Me: Is this a marketing call?

    Them: Well, yes but I thin...

    Me: Are you aware this number is registered with the TPS?

    Them: No

    Me: Well, it is please do not call this number, I have noted your company name down and should you call this number again I will forward your information to the TPS.

    Them: I'm sorry if I bothered you *hangs up*

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typical Marketing Call

      "Them: I'm sorry if I bothered you *hangs up*"

      Then repeat next day.

    2. RonWheeler

      Re: Typical Marketing Call

      no it isn't typical at all

  12. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "Ofcom’s latest estimate is that approximately 3.9 billion nuisance calls are received by UK landlines per year"

    Well done reducing it but you're still far from the target of 0.

    PS: No i haven't been in a fucking accident, i don't have a licence (by choice). And O2, stop fucking calling me and asking what you can do for me...You fucking called me!

    1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      The rate of reduction of the rate of reduction is up a big, big 0.0002 percent this year!

      ... With apologies to Keith Laumer.

  13. Lee D Silver badge

    I found an easier way.

    Ditched the landline.

    Registered with TPS years ago.

    Don't give out my number unnecessarily.

    Always utilised the follow procedure on mobile:

    - If caller known, answer.

    - If number withheld, refuse call.

    - If caller unknown, Google them or look them up in an app.

    - If no relation or no business relationship, block it permanently on the phone (e.g. by adding to a "fake" contact called Spam with no ringtone suffices even if your phone is out of the Ark).

    - Anything important, they'll text, email, ring back, write or call you from a proper number.

    Number of spam calls since September: 0

    Number of spam texts since September: 0

    While all around me people are often answering their mobile phones in work or at leisure and dealing with insurance claim guys, I get basically nothing and even when I do, I just let it ring out and then see if the number was spam.

    I've had the same number for nearly 15 years. I've changed providers many times. I've got all my services tied to that number, all the SMS confirmations, 2FA, etc. so it's in quite a few places. I moved flat recently and don't have a landline so all my utilities etc. are registered on that number too.

    But if you just never answer unless you already know who it is, they all die off or get nowhere. Hell, just set your normal ringtone to silence / no vibration, and then set your contact's ringtone to something actually audible. No bother at all and no hi-tech required.

    If I was really bothered, I'd get a SIP line or a Skype number and just forward it to a mobile that accepted nothing else, and then change it whenever it got spammed.

    P.S. Reporting spam texts is a waste of time - it doesn't forward the originator's details, and when the place you report it to reply and want that you have to send another text with "the number it appeared to come from" (which is always faked anyway), and then literally nothing happens.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Oh, no voicemail either.

      As far as they're concerned my line just rings forever until they give up or I cut them off.

  14. Gerry 3
    FAIL

    The Office of the Chocolate Teapot

    Just like all the other so-called regulators, Ofcom and the ICO are utterly useless. They have an unhealthily close relationship with those they are supposed to regulate, and they don't want to fix the problem because they'd rather issue turgid reports for the next thirty years just to keep themselves employed and looking busy.

    Why doesn't the dozy Ofcom simply mandate that 1477 (Automatic Call Trace) is made available free of charge on EVERY line? (They eventually decided to do this for Caller Display, but sadly it won't happen until October.)

    1477 stores the originating number at the victim's exchange for enforcement action, even if it's been withheld or spoofed. It's simple, quick and far better than laboriously trying to report fake numbers to the ICO. But despite having been a standard network facility for decades, hardly anyone has ever heard of it, even within BT. Even worse, apparently it's only available on business lines.

    Similarly, Ofcom should require all telcos to offer the equivalent of BT Call Protect free of charge; it shouldn't be available only from the most expensive telco.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Office of the Chocolate Teapot

      Exactly.

      Why has OFCOM still not been abolished yet? Rhetorical - because a politician (Call me Dave) promised it would be.

      Alternatively, when is someone going to fine them for being incompetent and taking money under false pretenses?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Pain in different flavours

    In New South Wales Australia the gov's "Do Not Call" register works well, you put your name on a list and all cold call and marketing companies have to use the list to remove you from their database or prevent their system calling that number. It works for mobile numbers also.

    If you get a call, they will check your number to confirm the situation then after a couple of warnings will fine the offending organisation.

    Australia has also made it illegal for unsolicited junk-mail to be sent to Australians from Australia.

    While we get a little bit from businesses we use, we generally can control that with account options.

    One trick I had from my mobile service provider was to say I had a missed call, but when I rang to check my voicemail, it said the caller left no details, so no follow up. I had to disengage all voicemail on my mobile, telling friends and colleges to SMS a small message in lieu of voicemail.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Pain in different flavours

      "In New South Wales Australia the gov's "Do Not Call" register works well, you put your name on a list and all cold call and marketing companies have to use the list to remove you from their database or prevent their system calling that number. It works for mobile numbers also."

      This is how the TPS in the UK works too. Sadly, the enforcement is a bit lacking and most calls, it seems, come from contracted-out "lead generation" operation in India. It's a loophole that needs closing, along with the "this is a survey" type calls which eventually lead to details being passed on to a sales company who, thanks to the "survey" now claim a "business relationship" with you.

      Considering that the government do actually carry out real surveys in this manner, you'd think that they might do something about the scammer "surveys" so their real callers don't get told to fuck off by reflex by everyone.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. RonWheeler

    I'd put a blocker in

    But my wife gets a lot of calls from family in Germany so none of the numbers are traceable.

    1. apveening Silver badge

      Re: I'd put a blocker in

      As long as Caller-ID is available, German numbers are as traceable as UK or Dutch numbers. German numbers start with +49 (and Dutch with +31).

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I'd put a blocker in

      "But my wife gets a lot of calls from family in Germany so none of the numbers are traceable."

      Why are they withholding their numbers?

      1. RonWheeler

        Re: I'd put a blocker in

        Because they use cheap SIP based services.

  18. PeteA
    Flame

    Scary recent exchange

    This is a phone call I had last week:

    Hello (my name), how can I help?

    (Sales bullshit)

    Are you aware that this number is TPS registered?

    Yes, but I don't really care

    (click)

    First one I've experienced which was that brazen.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Scary recent exchange

      "Yes, but I don't really care"

      It makes you wonder what the success/hit rate is on TPS registered numbers. By definition, people registered with TPS don't want sales calls so I'd have thought are extremely unlikely to result in a positive lead and therefore a waste of their time to call in the first place. At best, all they are getting is confirmation it's a "live" numbers that will be answered by a human who doesn't want sales calls. I'm not sure that that is especially valuable data. At best, shonky companies might pay for lists of confirned numbers (and also waste their time) but any responsible company should be running any purchased lists against the TPS list and filtering them out, which immediately tells them the list suppliers are liars who should be reported for fraud.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Scary recent exchange

        > I'd have thought are extremely unlikely to result in a positive lead

        Yes, but spammers don't think. Their whole business is based on going against the odds, it's based on that .001% of positive responses they will eventually get.

        So, whatever you do or say, they will carry on, they don't really care if *you* are not interested, for somewhere among all the refusals hides their next victim, and all those failures are just the dirt through which they have to sift to reach it.

        Which means that opt-out lists are as efficient as no-bite lists for mosquitoes...

      2. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Re: Scary recent exchange

        "It makes you wonder what the success/hit rate is on TPS registered numbers. By definition, people registered with TPS don't want sales calls so I'd have thought are extremely unlikely to result in a positive lead and therefore a waste of their time to call in the first place"

        Hypothetical: your gran has Alzheimers. Do you put her on the TPS list, or not? How many people do you think make that choice?

        There are probably a lot of people who are on that list because they, or their carers, know they're vulnerable. And so, the scammers know that the TPS list probably has a higher proportion of vulnerable adults on it than the general pool of phone numbers.

  19. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Solution at the end user, er..., end

    We need a $50 price class wee feisty PBX-like gadget. It would intercept incoming calls, except those on a local, user controlled, white list would be allowed through immediately after their Caller ID matches (2nd ring).

    It could programmed with all sorts of UI features to screen calls from unknown (not white listed) numbers. Spell first name, etc. It could also take voice messages, and be Internet enabled.

    The crazy Caller IDs would go straight into either Null, or into a robot voice Hell Banning playpen to be annoyed endlessly.

    Seems like a cheap device to build and sell.

    1. Dave Pickles

      Re: Solution at the end user, er..., end

      I use this on a Raspberry Pi:

      http://ncid.sourceforge.net/

      It has blacklists and whitelists, which can include regular expressions. For blacklisted calls it can play a recording or emulate a fax machine. Best of all, in the UK it will seize the call before the first ring, so you are never interrupted by the spammers. It's a simple matter to parse the log file to create a web report.

      (No connection other than as a user).

    2. Steve Mw

      Re: Solution at the end user, er..., end

      Not quite in the $50 price range but since installing one of these I have had a grand total of zero junk calls get through

      https://www.truecall.co.uk/

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Solution at the end user, er..., end

      Re: Two examples provided.

      So, proving yet again that "...everything has already been invented."

      Lovely. Thank you.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't get mad, get even

    And have fun at the same time.

    Incoming spam text - "£2.452.87 has been allocated for your recent accident. Just fill in the form at http://www.weareambulancechasers.co.uk and your money will be released to you"

    Which, is of course, a load of old bollox.

    So the best thing to do is fill in that form. I find the person injured is usually John Doe, or Michael Rodent, or Roland Rodent. They generally have had every bone in their body broken.

    So there's some amusement to be had when Clearly A Spammer's Number calls my mobile.

    Yes, I do have too much time on my hands But using to waste a spammer's time is fun. And, noticeably in the medium term, more effective than anything Ofcom or the ICO have done. Both spam texts and the incoming calls following are noticeably down.

    And yes, the number is on the TPS list....

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Don't get mad, get even

      I used to do this with 419 scammers (Nigerian princes by email). It's all fun and games until your email inbox is full. Must be even worse when your phone never stops ringing?

  21. G R Goslin

    Well, I have it sorted.

    I simply do not answer any incoming calls, and have turned the ringer down to near inadibility. I've alerted all my acquantences to my mobile number and use the mobile for outgoing calls, too. I need the landline for internet, so cannot cancel the service. My outgoing calls on the mobile I've worked out to be only 25% of the cost of a landline call, so, for me, it's win, win. And for BT, lose, lose.

  22. SonofRojBlake

    I've recently started amusing myself thus:

    Given that, as I understand it, their priority is to keep you on the line and NOT hang up on you, I've hit on this to give myself something to do when this happens...

    *ring ring*

    Me: Hello.

    Scum-sucking parasite: Hello am I speaking to Mr. *****? (or other innocuous opening)

    Me: Yes.

    SSP: I understand you've been in an accident/entitled to PPI refund/need you to answer just three market research questions...

    Me: What are you wearing?

    ... (the sharp ones hang up at this point)

    SSP: What do you mean?

    Me: (as creepily as possible) What sort of clothes do you have on?

    ... (most hang up by now, but so far just one hardy soul has ploughed on, off script and confused...)

    SSP: Why do you want to know what I'm wearing?

    Me: (Honestly surprised I've got this far and deciding OK, you asked...) "How am I supposed to masturbate to the sound of your voice if I can't picture you in my mind?"

    ... The invective I was subjected to before they hung up was in such heavily accented English (or possibly not in English) that I can't, unfortunately, report its contents. I honestly don't know what I would have done next, if they had, for instance, actually described their clothing.

    Either way, it's given me a chuckle several times so far. I recommend it.

    I can also report that it is AT LEAST as successful when deployed (by me, a man) against men as it is against women. And before anyone suggests this is in any way creepy or harassing-style behaviour, THEY rang ME.

    If you're a woman, I'm going to stick my neck out and recommend you don't try this approach.

    1. paulf Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: I've recently started amusing myself thus:

      Superb.

      As for, "I honestly don't know what I would have done next, if they had, for instance, actually described their clothing." get creative with your wildest imagination - the Internet has much to offer in the way of inspiration, see Icon! For good measure, place an old Marigold glove* by the phone in case you need sound effects.

      *These are branded rubber gloves usually used for washing dishes and other household chores, if anyone isn't aware.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fun to be had

    I play a game of how long I can string them along and keep them on the line. Oh the accidents I've had before I announce 10 minutes later that I don't drive.

    If they're wasting their time talking to me they're not phoning someone else. Plus nothing gets you off their hit list faster than ruining their conversion rate.

  24. PeterM42
    Trollface

    To get your own back.....

    Keep a VERY LOUD whistle by your phone..........

  25. Richard Scratcher

    jcblock

    I've set up a Raspberry Pi with a C program I found called jcblock. It has a blacklist and whitelist function and can block whole ranges of numbers. I use a USB voice modem to answer junk calls before they even ring the phone. I enhanced the program by adding a recorded message for withheld numbers and a time of day function because the NHS will insist on withholding its numbers.

    That worked well until spammers started "spoofing" their CLI with numbers in ranges that have not yet been allocated by Ofcom. My answer to that was to download the entire UK allocation tables from Ofcom's website and grep for any well-known teclos such as BT, Sky, Vodaphone, etc. and leave out any protected or unallocated ranges. I also omitted any tinpot companies such as Voxbone SA, Gamma telecom, Magrathea, etc. who seem to specialise in extending their number ranges overseas to spam call centres. The file is 24,000 entries long but the Pi still skips through it fast enough for the phone not to ring.

    This combination is almost perfect but the real answer would be for Ofcom to revoke the licences of these rogue telcos and the PSTN to block number spoofing.

  26. Diez66

    TPS, I re-register every now and then.

    This seems to work well, very, very few calls and if I start to get some, I re-register and they seem to stop again, works for me.

  27. dieseltaylor

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/boss-firm-fined-making-100-10396244

    ICO fines company; company files for insolvency. Perhaps all these sorts of articles should include amounts actually paid rather then eye-catching headline figures.

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