How to spot scams and tackle the blight of nuisance calls

Laura Jamieson, Policy Improvement Manager of COSLA

The constant blight of nuisance calls is becoming more and more prevalent with many consumers being plagued by what seems like a daily tirade. Ofcom reports that consumers receive a staggering 4.8 billion nuisance calls every year with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) receiving an average of 14,000 complaints every month.

For some, nuisance calls are an irritant but for others the persistent ringing of the telephone can cause anxiety and distress.  Abandoned and silent calls in particular can often seem  sinister leaving the individual terrified to answer the telephone.  

Scam Calls

In amongst this bombardment are scams; people cold called to be told they have a virus on their computer which can be fixed for a fee. Or investment scams which cost consumers an average £20,000  or pension scams promising reviews or early access to funds before the age of 55. Other scams draw on the increased focus on nuisance calls offering call blockers which are simply not fit for purpose or offering to renew the recipient’s access to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) for a fee when the service is, in fact, free  The latter is used for the purposes of a practice called ‘vishing’ where the caller attempts to extract personal or financial information from the victim.

Week one of Scams Awareness Month provides an opportunity to highlight the range of methods scammers use to elicit money from their victims. It is the opportune time to start the conversation with family, friends and neighbours about the lengths scammers will go to in order to con you and encourages consumers to take time to make a decision when contacted out of the blue.

Call blocking

However, there are a few measures that consumers can take to help make it more difficult for the scammers to get through to them in the first place.  Options available include registering for the TPS by visiting and clicking ‘register’ or alternatively calling 0845 070 0707; and of course there are some excellent call blocking units available from trueCall, BT and CPR, each with different options to suit your needs.

If you do receive an unsolicited call and you are unsure of what to do the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline will provide advice and support and can be contacted on 03454 04 05 06.  With the likes of computer virus scams where the caller purports to be from Talk Talk or BT, tell them you will call them back, put the phone down and wait before dialling out again.  Using the telephone numbers which appear on your bill will quickly allow you to identify if it was a genuine call or not.

Businesses are not exempt from scam calls either, which is why the Thursday of telephone scams week considers advertising scams which specifically target business.  For those businesses bombarded with calls, the Corporate TPS is available.  To find out more, visit

Most importantly, don’t ever suffer in silence.  If you think you are the victim of a scam, contact the Consumer Helpline, report it and make sure to alert your friends and family.

To mark telephone scams week – part of Scams Awareness Month – Laura Jamieson, Policy and Improvement Manager at Trading Standards Scotland, writes here on the type of phone scams that people can encounter and what to do about them

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  1. Doris

    I am Doris used every single spell worker on the internet, spent untold amounts of money and discovered they are all fakes…i was the fool though; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In the end, I decided that I wanted a tarot reading to know what my future held for me; I contacted a woman who lives locally to me and she told me about a man named (Priests Abija); he does not advertise on the internet, has another job for income, has no set prices, makes no false promises and refuses to help anyone that cannot be helped and even helps for free sometimes, he will give you proof before taking money. He is a wonderful man and he was the only person who actually gave me real results. I really hope he doesn’t mind me advertising his contact on the internet but I’m sure any help/ extra work will benefit him here as (518) 303-6207 or He travel sometimes.i cant give out his number cos he told me he don’t want to be disturbed by many people across the world..he said his email is okay and he’ will replied to any emails asap,love marriage,finance, job promotion ,lottery Voodoo,poker voodoo,golf Voodoo,Law & Court case Spells,money voodoo,weigh loss voodoo,any sicknesses voodoo,Trouble in marriage,HIV AIDS,it’s all he does Hope this helps everyone that is in a desperate situation as I once was; I know how it feels to hold onto something and never have a chance to move on because of the false promises and then to feel trapped in wanting something

  2. Anna T

    Does the TPS work if it’s number withheld? These are usually Doctors & Hospitals.

  3. David Forder

    The TPS is almost useless, although registered we get on average 2 unwanted calls per day. I have a Truecall blocker which works wonderfully well in 2 years since we got it only one unwanted call has got through. Around 95% of calls have Number Withheld and many are International over which TPS have no influence at all.

  4. Michael

    Cold Call re PPI. Recorded voice asks receiver to press 2 for more information or button 9 to be removed from call-list. No mention of any costs if button 9 is pressed. Should I press 9 or by doing so will I incur a charge from phone provider?

  5. Gail Hughes

    Does the TPS actually do anything to combat scammers? I have been registered for ages but still get calls, often three or more a day from PPI compensation, boiler renewal schemes, computer virus scammers and the rest. I really don’t think the people responsible for these calls are going to check to see if the number their automated dialler is about to ring is registered with the TPS.

    Complaints to Ofcom and the ICO seem to have about as much effect as the TPS too.

  6. Diane candy

    We have been a target for a Scam on health supplements the Company concerned is Phenom Health the product ( WildRaspberryKetone) we ordered a trial sample FREE with a charge of £2:95 p&p fair enough but the they rolled us on to a carry on deal costing £48:00if we send by 29/8/2016 £96 odd if our return parcel was received at there Cyprus warehouse.

    Not happy with this sort of trading, have returned the product via Royal Mail to de signed for and will ask my bank to refuse the charge other than £2:95 p&p


  7. Christine Ivory

    Some telecoms providers (e.g. Talktalk) provide free call blocking. This kind of approach requires the telephone user to dial a short code after an unwanted call has been received, to prevent the same number calling again. Whilst it can not prevent unwanted calls in the first instance, at least this service enables the recipient of unwanted calls to prevent repeat calls from the same number.

    1. David Forder

      How do they deal with “Number Withheld” ?

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