Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Phone lies – and the need to fight the spam

One of the advantages – and disadvantages – of modern life is the mobile phone.

In the olden days, you could not have known, for instance, who was calling, so would have had little option but to pick up the handset when it rang.

These days, if you have no landline, you can see the number on your handset – and make a decision based on that.

Increasingly, given the amount of spam and scams, I don’t answer any unfamiliar number, but run a check on the internet after the caller has stopped ringing.

This means, for instance, that I can find out if it’s something where I need to call back.

But that still leaves an increasing amount of spam (and no blocking facility on my iPhone – Apple, sort it).

In the last few weeks, there has been a particular spurt of crap.

Most recently, there have been calls from 0843 724 0610: twice on Sunday and twice yesterday.

Then there’s 0843 724 0459, which called twice last Thursday, twice last Wednesday, and once each on the 7, 10 and 11 January, plus the 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 December.

And it would be remiss of me to forget the two calls from 0843 724 0438, together with at least four ‘unknown’ calls in the same period and a couple that were miraculously blocked.

Yesterday, I picked one of these calls up.

Why? Because I was irritated as all hell and wanted to be able to tell someone where they could get off.

Just because I can avoid them doesn’t mean they’re less irritating.

What ‘answered’ was a recorded message. It announced that they – whoever “they” were – had details of an accident I’d had in the last couple of years, and would like to help me gain compensation.

Now bear that bit in mind: the message claimed that there is evidence of an accident that the listener has had.

This stoked my personal pissed-off level, so when it offered me the chance to “opt out” of such calls – when the heck was I given the choice of opting in or not? – or of pressing five to be called back by an agent, I took the latter.

Three times today, an ‘unknown’ number called me.

On the third occasion, I was in a position to answer and, suspecting what it would be, did so.

I got a Welsh male voice – not the sort that would grace a choir – explaining that he was from Total Claims Network and wanted to talk about my accident.

I asked how they’d got the information about my ‘accident’. He said by my responding to the message, “love”.

So on top of it all, I’d now got a patronising little git on the other end of the phone.

He refused to explain how they’d got the information about the aforementioned “accident”, claiming it was all down to me requesting a call back.

Then he accused me of trying to shout over him. My voice was raised because he wouldn’t let me speak, but not to the point of shouting.

When he demanded “have you had an accident” and I replied in the negative, he said that was time to finish the call and hung up.

What, then, did I get for my trouble?

Well, there is now a company name – at least a supposed one – and I have a nice little collection telephone numbers.

I’ve done telesales in the dim and distant past and I have plenty of sympathy for people who do it because they can find no other employment.

I do not, however, have even a shred of sympathy for people like this who are liars.

They have no evidence of anything. They’re simply fishing. And to then find an aggressive and arrogant rep on the other end of the phone doesn’t help.

Although, as only a slight aside, it’s probably true that, if you’re trying to make a living from lies and scams, it probably helps to be a bit of a prick.

But a ‘company’ that finds ways around leaving a trail in order for people to get back to them – in this case, a phone number for whoever called me back today – and a ‘company’ that almost certainly relies on the cost of targeted people picking up the phone or making call backs to make it money, after a level of unsolicited calls that must count as harassment, is not an ethical or moral entity for which there is any excuse for it to exist.

It doesn’t matter that some people know not to answer or not to respond. Why should we all have to deal with that? And besides, does that include the vulnerable or the elderly who might not be tech savvy?

The details I’ve garnered will not be going to waste. I will be forwarding them to my MP with a question as to how such things can be legal.

And I post them here as a warning to others.

While we’re on the subject, it’s worth adding that, if you get a call from a number such as +967 233 45, do not answer.

There are apparently a number of these around, originating from various countries outside Europe, and there is certainly some serious speculation that they involve people being able to clone your sim if you answer.

So, that’s your public information story of the day – and if anyone can think of a way to piss off the spammers even more than I possibly managed this evening, then kindly let me know!

* Update: 5.20pm Wednesday 28 January

 It's possible that I've pissed them off more than I realised.  Since 9.09am today, I've received five 'unknown' calls and two have been blocked. I am absolutely not answering.


  1. I have also been getting calls from these numbers. It's SO annoying. Any idea how to get rid of them?

    1. It's incredibly annoying! I look at the amount I've been getting and I honestly think it's borderline harassment. I genuinely do now know why it's legal.

      A change of number can help – although it's irritating and hardly a matter of convenience.

      In the UK, the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) can also help – although some people think that it 'wears off' after a while.

      Other than that, trying to be careful about handing out your number.

      Hope that's a bit of help at least. :-)

    2. And I should have added: you can find out more about TPS at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/index.html.

  2. The SIM cloning comment is false and not actually technically possible. You might want to mention that.

    1. Thanks for this – it helps illustrate the kind of mire that exists when people are getting such amounts of junk and are making an effort to find out (before answering) what is coming in.

      I'm intending to do an update post in the coming days, following the government's pledged crackdown on phone spam, and will specifically mention this then, although obviously your comment here adds to the above post.

      Thanks again.

  3. Dear

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    Kind Regards
    Mr Per Arne Andreassen

    1. Hi Per Arne,

      I've responded to you via email.