New rogue trader alert: bogus call blockers

Rogue traders are causing the very problem they claim to solve: unwanted cold calls

Updated: 
scams on the rise

Rogue traders have found another way to part people from their hard-earned cash. They know people are suffering the hell of being inundated with cold calls, so they promise to rid people of unwanted calls, and are wiling to use all sorts of underhand tactics to get people to part with their money.

The scam

Citizens Advice has warned that there has been an increase in the number of companies cold calling their victims and selling them devices that they claim will put a stop to nuisance calls. The charity says it has seen a 72% increase in the number of cases of 'bogus selling' of cold call blocking services -and got 2,500 complaints last year.

Most of these are selling cold call blocking devices, that allow users to screen calls and decide which ones they will accept. Citizens Advice says that in many cases the gadgets are sub-standard, but their main concern is how they are being sold.

The charity says people are complaining about receiving nuisance calls from blocking companies, despite registering for free with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) - which means they should not receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It means that the companies involved are either ignoring the law, or are calling from overseas.

Some people have complained about being told that their friends and family have already purchased the blocking devices, while others report traders falsely claiming to be from the TPS, or to be working with the Government or Trading Standards. Others say that the callers are using aggressive selling tactics, and that they have continued to receive calls from these companies even after they bought a device.

Others have said they were told they could pay for a blocker in monthly payments - but had the money taken from them in one lump sum up-front. In these cases customers were assured the cold call blocking service would cost just £2 a month for five years but once signed up, the money for the entire contract was debited from their account.

In August this year Stop The Calls, a company which offered a nuisance call blocking service, was fined £50,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office. They found that the company had called people registered with the TPS, made repeated calls, sometimes several on the same day, and ignored requests by people to stop calling.

What can you do?

These rogue traders shouldn't put you off a call blocking device entirely. Quality products are available that can effectively and dramatically cut the number of cold calls that get through to your home.

However, Citizen's Advice has warned that legitimate companies who offer call blockers do not make cold calls, so if you want to purchase one, you should head for a reputable company rather than waiting for a bogus seller to contact you.

If you are being harassed by someone trying to sell these products, you should start by registering your number with the Telephone Preference Service on tpsonline.org.uk, or by calling 0845 070 0707.

Then you should report unsolicited marketing calls to the Information Commissioner's Office at ico.org.uk/concerns/marketing, or by calling 0303 123 1113.

If you still have need any further support you can visit your local Citizens Advice or contact the consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

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