back to article Millions opted into UK mobile phone directory

A public mobile phone directory for the UK will launch later this month, loaded with millions of private numbers bought from marketing departments. From June 18, callers to 118800 will be asked for a first name, a surname and a town*. If a match is found, they will be connected to that person's mobile for £1. Connectivity, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not to callers

    anyone I don't want to talk to using this service (including the operators) be prepared for a torrent of abuse. just like every scum bag that tries to flog me a service I don't want using prediallers.

    You can f**k off if you think I'm paying to send you a text or pick up your voice mails.

    This is what I think should happen to all "Opt out" businesses.

    You can always opt out of this abuse by not calling me in the first place.

  2. Paul Stephenson

    without completing registration

    it says it found multiple people in my town with my name, which presumably would be where i used to live and now live, being the only one in town. giving one of the house numbers offers me a page to signup so ican contact that person.

    now to file an opt out......

    is the current phone book for land lines an opt in or out service, i can't remember.

  3. A B

    Where's my cut?

    We little people rarely get to see marketing research money change hands. I feel blessed.

  4. Paul

    Opt out...

    To Opt Out you apparently text E to 118800 (which is allegedly free).

    I just hope that doesn't mean they ignore the opt out and spam the shit out of users even harder.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    To Unsubscribe...

    Either Dial 0800 138 6263 and get stuck in queue hell while racking up their phone bill.

    Or at your expense text E to 118800

  6. Martin Milan
    Thumb Down

    Well it found me

    Admittedly at an old address, that I haven't lived in for over two and a half years... Don't know what mobile phone no they have for me, because I don't fancy either a) Ponying up £1 into their revenues, or 2) Giving them my current number...

    I'm toying with the idea of a subject access request - and also requesting an explanation from them as to where they obtained my data...


  7. Martyn Breckenridge

    Pissed off...

    I was able to find myself, I would like to know how since I dont give my permission for any person or company to disclose my details.

  8. Code Monkey

    From the FAQ

    "Please allow up to 4 weeks for your ex-directory request to take effect."

    How does it take that long? Incompetent twunts

  9. Geoff Mackenzie

    It finds me

    but at a past address (where I haven't lived in years). It's probably not even my current mobile number. I don't really want to opt out using my current number in case they don't currently have the right one (which would be ideal). I'm going to phone shortly and opt myself out.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    So you can opt IN on your website, but opting OUT requires sending a text message?

    Shady business model if you ask me...

  11. Andy ORourke

    From the FAQ's

    Can I be ex-directory with 118 800?

    You can become ex-directory by texting the letter ‘E’ to 118800 from the mobile phone you want to be made ex-directory or you can call us on 0800 138 6263. Standard network charges apply. The first time 118 800 contacts you you will be sent an SMS reminding you about how to become ex-directory. Please allow up to 4 weeks for your ex-directory request to take effect.

    I really dont like giving any numbers out to anyone and ALWAYS read the wording of those tick boxes at the bottom of the form, usually something like this:

    I accept the terms and conditions - Tick Box

    I would like you to would like you to bombard me with endless shite offers : yes / no (yes is default)

    I would like you to sell my details to other companies peddling any old shite, if you agree to this tick the relevant box -

    Yes - I dont want you to pass my details on

    No - I do want you to sell my details for profit

    Scum sucking marketing scumbag mothers!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Very Suspicious

    Like El Reg, I did a quick (un)scientific test, looking myself up.

    It came back saying there were several matching criteria in my town, and could I supply more information to help narrow the search (house number, street name, postcode).

    However I happen to be fairly certain there is NOT another me in my town. And since I've had one mobile number for 15 years, it's not a duplicate of me.

    I never give permission for my mobile number to be released to third parties, so there is some suspicious data gathering going on here.

    They also charge the full £10 if you want to check your details (as per the Data Protection act), and you need to supply lots of personal information (e.g. Passport, bank statement, utility bill).

    There doesn't appear to be a simple way to check if you are listed - you need to register your number before they'll let you look it up fully - "give us your number and we promise we won't list it"


  13. Kevin Fairhurst
    Thumb Down

    It appears they know who I am

    However, calling the 0800 customer services number to get me removed from their database just results in me going around and around and around on a queue....

  14. DirkGently
    Thumb Down


    I can find me, but at the address where I lived 2 years ago! Not exactly current data.

  15. MacRat

    Ring Ring

    Big brother is calling you. Will you accept?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Simon Davies

    > Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, briefly worked as a consultant on the venture, which is backed by the investment firm 3i. He left two years ago after it became clear the business plan was dependent on opt-out, rather than an opt-in consent. "There was just nothing I could contribute after that," he said.

    That would be the same Simon Davies from 80/20 Thinking (as well as Privacy International) who counts Phorm amongst its clients? Remind me.. is Phorm opt-in or opt-out? El Reg readers might like to discuss this apparent inconsistency..

    (Or am I just a Privacy Pirate?)

  17. david bates
    Thumb Down

    Count me out...

    Yeah I know my mobile no is on my CV and everything but even so - I dont see why some muppets should make a cent from people I have no interest in getting access to pester me.

    Mind you Search does not work - it crashes, and insists that one of my friends with a very distinctive name appears more than once in his home town (nonsense...) and the opt-out line is either inundated with calls or no being manned.

    Hope they die quite quickly.

  18. David Hicks
    Thumb Down

    Couldn't get it to work at all

    After searching my name and then providing more details when it claimed multiple matches it said the page didn't exist.

    Good work!

    As a general principle I dislike this. I try never to give explicit or implicit consent for anyone to do anything with my details but I'm only human and I sometimes miss. Passing my details to sales people is annoying enough, but to directories seems like an abuse.

    Still, at least they don't give out numbers directly, just annoy you with text messages.

  19. Dennis
    Paris Hilton

    Here's a clue....................

    If you don't have my mobile telephone I don't want you to have it.

    And I don't care which obscure tick box I missed I do not want you to sell it.

    Isn't there supposed to be laws preventing this sort of thing.

    Oh yes that right the Information Commissioners Office. Nuff said

    Paris because she wouldn't let her personal details be sold in this way

  20. adam

    very odd...

    This is very odd.

    I have searched for myself, and found myself at an address i havent lived at for over 2 years !!

    The really annoying thing is that i NEVER EVER EVER give out my mobile number to ANYONE bar friends and family. I certainly dont publish it on forms, letters etc - so how the hell did they get my details ????????????????

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Give us your money or we'll compromise your privacy"

    Surely this is little more than extortion?

  22. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Who said they could use this data?

    "the firm now says it will give each person the chance to opt out the first time they are contacted via the directory"

    I think rather a lot hangs on how they do that. If it is made obvious to the victim that the default position is "don't put them through" (*especially* if the victim turns out to be under-age) and that by accepting the call they are, in effect, giving legal consent for the company to keep them on the database (which children may not be in a position to do), and that there is an easy way to reverse that decision later (and I'm not sure a web-site really counts, particularly if it is one of those dreadful Windows-only jobs), then that would be fine.

    But what are the chances of that happening? In practice, I expect the conversation will be "Your friend Charlie's on the line, shall I put him through?", followed by a "Er, dunno, suppose so." and finishing with "OK. [click]", which (to my non-legal mind) strikes me as raising a whole raft of DPA issues.

    People can be quite cagey about their mobile number. I've certainly never been asked for permission to use it in this way and would definitely say no. Only a handful of people know my mobile number. (Family, childminders, schools.) It's not quite for emergency use only, but pretty close. As a result, when it goes off I can assume it is important enough to excuse myself from pretty much whatever I'm doing. (I'm rarely more than 10 metres away from a landline. It's not like I'm playing hard to get.)

    Fortunately, the business may go under before any case reaches court. It seems to me that the people whose numbers you don't already know and the people who are unlikely to give consent to a passing stranger wanting to harvest their privacy for profit might overlap quite a lot, so the service is likely to charge a premium rate fee but then fail to put you through. How many times will you play *that* game?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like

    I like how you can add yourself online but to be removed you need to phone or text them.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Got me too, allegedly

    Out of curiosity I also searched against myself.

    I was also told that there were multiple matches. I live in a relatively small town so I find this unlikely but as I can't say for sure I can go with it. I have had multiple numbers over the time I've been using mobiles, but my current one I have had for quite some years now. Which could mean that they have got the data from various sources and some of it is very outdated.

    I find that hard to believe because as a rule I never allow my data to be passed onto 3rd parties, however there is always the possibility that I may have missed something somewhere.

    It all seems rather dodgy to me.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


  26. fifi
    Black Helicopters


    "We have more than one person who matches your query"

    Strange, since I'm not only the only person in my town with my name, but as far as I know, the only person in the country, if not the world with my name.

    Further searching gives:

    "ERROR - Page not available at this time

    ...the page you have requested is not available or no longer exists. Please select one of the links below"

    I guess my details are safe for now.

  27. Colin Guthrie
    Thumb Down

    Seems to find me very easily...

    I search for myself: firstname, last name, town/city.

    Like others say it says there are multiple matches, and asks for more info, so I type in "Bullshit" into the company box and low and behold it says it found me!!!

    So apparently I work for bullshit. Not wise in these troubling economic times. Anyone want to buy some bullshit? I've got loads..... come to think of it so does this new website....

  28. Ben Mathews

    In fairness....

    Their security is extremely good. the lack of an accessible search results page on their site makes it very tricky to get any information out of it.

    Search provider that can't provide search results? Epic Fail!

  29. Wize

    Very shady bunch

    They won't let us search the database without charging us money.

    Every other 118 website I've been on let you look up people for nowt.

    And there is no way to see if they have you on their records without giving them your number in the first place (and paying them a quid) just to tell them to delete your records.


  30. Fred

    The opt-out info is used

    So, they think if you don't want to be called, I'll get in touch and confirm my details so as NOT to be in the list. Seen that coming!

    My phone has a "filter incoming" function which I have used to good effect.

    I recommend that other readers find out how to filter their calls from their phones

  31. Winkypop Silver badge


    It will be a rare thing to be a truly private citizen.

    : (

  32. Anonymous Coward

    TPS FTW!

    Register your mobe with the Telephone Preference Service ( Then if someone phones trying to flog you double glazing you can get their wotsits nailed to the thingy-ma-blob. Unfortunately, it won't stop SMS spam though...

  33. Camilla Smythe

    Take off and Nuke them from Orbit

    You know its the only way.

    I would like to be more constructive but dealing with people prepared to squirm a profit out of such practices will only result in a lot of drawn out wiggling, weaseling and zero action. All indicators are that they are going to opt people who's information they have in to all the 'services' they provide and also use the opt-out procedure to opt-in the people who choose to opt-out. Then they will swear blind that you have opted in. It will be a while before people scream blue bloody murder at a level that gets any authorities attention and then they will string it out with 'system'/'software'/'database' errors until Beelzebub gets frostbitten tootsies. Where's the bit in the T&C, in Wing Ding 1 point, that says you agree to be opted back in after a period of 3 months if you do not opt out again.....?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    4 weeks to unsubscribe?

    I can almost guarantee that my girlfriend's ex-husband will continuously hassle her through this service within those four weeks :(

  35. Steve Evans

    Nice use of technology...

    They have a pretty website... But no way of removing yourself from their list without phoning an 0800 number (which gets you stuck in a queue... At least they will have to pay for this call), or texting E to a £1 text line...

    And why on earth would it take 4 weeks to remove?

    update tbl_numbers set ex_dir="1" where mobile_num="07123456789"

    Complicated stuff.

    I'll be interested to see if I was on there, I always tick the "don't share" boxes, so if I'm on there I would be very interested to know how.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quite simply, there will be hell to pay if I'm on it.

    Let's go through it piece by piece.

    1 - When I provide my details I make a point of checking the terms under which this is collected. If it states ANYWHERE that it will be handed off to 3rd parties it's abort (or untick if that option exists). This means my information should NOT end up there.

    2 - If they have acquired my information they have various obligations themselves, like checking if the data they have received is accompanied by the appropriate permissions.

    If I find they hold my data, two things will happen.

    1 - A formal complaint about 118800 itself will go to the Information Commissioner - not only has my data been illegally obtained, it has also not been handled with the appropriate care (I'll come to the "why" in a minute)

    2 - a separate formal complaint will go to the IC about illegal provisioning of information, and again bad maintenance of information (another obligation). I don't know who did it, but 118800 will have to answer the IC investigation, and via that find the abuser. I've had it so often the someone calls me because I'm allegedly "on a list" that I would really like to nail the people who made that list. So far. that appears to be total BS.

    Now, obviously the IC isn't going to move as much as a foot with just one complaint, so I suggest you do the same. Get your facts, than hit them.

    I haven't yet explained why I can claim "bad data maintenance" - there is a requirements to ensure the data you hold is up to date, and I have solid evidence that hasn't happened.

    You see, I left the country 5 years ago..

  37. Dave Murray
    Thumb Down

    Name + town? Yeah that's going to work...

    My name is very common where I live so the chance of them finding the right number is slim. Even if they have a postcode there used to be someone with the same name living in the house next door. Then there's the famous boss of a football club whose stadium is across the road. Hopefully anyone looking for me will get him, that should be fun. :D

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do I find out

    How do I find out where they got my details from? Can anyone provide me of details how to do this? As I am pretty religious about opting out of being contacted about anything. So far on my mobile I've only received calls from friends and family, to whom I've provided the number. I'd like to keep it that way.

    I'm certain that I've never given my permission for my details to be used in such away by those I have dealt with, never mind a 3rd party So I'd like to find out who it was that has sold my details.

  39. Steve Evans

    Oh good...

    I am on there... Fan-bloody-tastic...

    Love to know how.

    Oh well, had this number over 8 years, about time I ditched it!

  40. Michael

    'Elf n Safety note....

    If you use this service to make cold calls during "peak commuting times" .... what are your legal liabilities? Do you have to do a risk assessment beforehand , if you're a company?

    ...Should be interesting... Verrrrry interesting!

  41. Si

    It seems I'm on the list

    Although I didn't want to sign up to confirm it. I'll be opting out at the first chance I get, but what's the betting they never bother offering people the opt-out?

  42. Norm DePlume

    Register investigation?

    ...Into how they're getting this information. I'm on it multiple times and I don't give permission for my mobile number to be passed on.

  43. Anonymous Coward


    "Generally it comes from companies who collect mobile telephone numbers from customers in the course of doing business and have been given permission by the customers to share those numbers."


    The case is usually that such consent is implied by some piece of small print hidden on a companies T&C's rather than any actually informed consent from the person who is the object of the re-sold details.

    Mines the one with 'fuck capitalism' across the back.

  44. Francis Fish

    Opt out

    From the site:

    You can become ex-directory by texting the letter ‘E’ to 118800 from the mobile phone you want to be made ex directory

    So I have - I have more free texts than I'll ever use anyway.

    4 weeks is RUBBISH though. It's just updating a flag on a database. What DB are they using, some kind of whelk stall stuff? Access, perhaps?

  45. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Got me too.

    This annoys me greatly. Sure I can file a DPA request to find out what information they have on me, but I don't believe I can find out where they got it from, and that's what irks me.

    Someone, somewhere has broken that particular law by passing on my details, and they appear to be able to do it with impunity.

    I imagine if an enterprising lawyer were reading this and were to take a fiver from each interested party, s/he would very quickly have a large enough fund to take them to court to find out.

  46. paulm

    4 weeks?

    What kind of crappy database are they running that takes 4 weeks to delete a record - or to set a flag next to it? It's not the sort of thing that should require any human intervention, so it should be able to take effect immediately.

  47. Bernie


    Anyone who knows my name, where I live and has a genuine reason to contact me would either have my number already or be able to get it without paying £1

    And if the people who don't have a genuine reason to contact me want to pay £1 to be rejected, be my guest.

  48. Lutin


    This is utter tripe.

    I am absolutely positive that I am the only person in the world with my first name and last name and yet when I put in these details along with my town it tells me that they've found more than one person with those details.

    Nonsense. I've also only ever had one phone number.

    I'm not going to put in more detailed search criteria, for fear that the are actually harvesting that data through the form.

    /tinfoil hat off now

  49. Ozwadi Ogolugi
    Thumb Down


    What a complete shoite worthless serivce.. If I am on the DB then I am getting off it PDQ!!

  50. Francis Fish

    Oh, and the feedback form insists you fill in the agree to T&C's box

    So no chance there, because I don't. Also no response to earlier text unsubscribing.

    Anonymous uncontactable and they claim they have my number.

    Very pissed off.

  51. Bill
    Thumb Up


    Love it .. Entered 'Birmingham' and the response was 'Is this Birmingham, Warwickshire'?

    I've heard of redrawing county boundaries but this is ridiculous.

  52. Camilla Smythe

    Here's an Idea for them

    When people opt out via the website give them a random 38 digit alphanumeric password in order to protect their privacy. I'm afraid I'll have to insist on this because you don't know who might choose to opt you back in again so you are protected. Then they can opt you back in and claim that it was you who did it because the person had the right password. Of course they will be happy to opt you back out.... all they need is your 40 digit alphanumeric password. What do you mean you've forgotten it? What do you mean its only 38 digits long? Sorry sir if you can't verify yourself with your password then.... you know, privacy and data protection and stuff.

  53. Havin_it
    Thumb Down

    @Steve Evans

    update tbl_numbers set ex_dir="1" where mobile_num="07123456789"


    Even simpler:

    delete from tbl_numbers where mobile_num="07123456789";

    And it had better bloody well be the latter if I have asked for *removal*.

  54. Anthony Shortland

    phone providers at fault?

    I'm becoming more and more convinced its your actual phone providers that sell on your details (how dodgy is that!?).

    I've told no one other than friends and family my number - yet mysteriously shortly before it would have been 12 months into my contract, I started getting loads of phone calls from other phone companies.

    Shame they didnt know they were wasting their time as its an 18 month contract though!

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Apparently not on it, but offended anyway...

    I can't believe this sort of thing happens these days - in between the page loading errors and service unavailable errors I've checked out my own details and cannot find myself on it... but I am still quite angry about the whole thing regardless.

    Most people I know use their mobile number as a strictly private one, and I am honoured to have it. The fact that someone from your past might find out what your new number is (that you changed to stop that person phoning it in the first place) for example, is appauling. I have no idea how old my number is - it harks back to the days when GSM was all new and phones ruined the lines of your winter coat. Very few people still have it but it has been given to several companies who I have had to deal with away from home, and this scares me. There are a lot of people I would rather didn't phone me out of the blue and the prospect of being "opted in" without my permission is a gross invasion of my privacy in my books.

    Further more changing my number would be of considerable inconvenience to me - is this company going to reimburse me in any way ? I think not. Quite frankly I hope they fail / get closed down. Their business model as it stands is a disgrace.

    Can we have a crossed out Phorm icon, please ?

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Just rang up offcom, totally useless I know, but I think if enough people ring them and complain they may take notice

    offcom complaints are to 0300 123 3333

    give them a call.

    Anyone know the phone number of 3i's London office?

    As an investor I am sure they would like to know how people feel about this type of business.

  57. Bernie

    Re: Colin

    "Like others say it says there are multiple matches, and asks for more info, so I type in "Bullshit" into the company box and low and behold it says it found me!!!"

    Wow I did the same thing with the word Crap and it found me too

    That is very very very shady indeed. I now regard this site to be nothing more than either a) an elaborate phishing scheme. Or b) an outright scam designed to get the gullible paying for information that doesn't exist.

    Probably both.

    Aren't there certain rules that need to be followed to get a 118 number? Or can any old crook get their hands on one?

    A complaint to ofcom is in order.

  58. This post has been deleted by its author

  59. The Dorset Rambler

    Total shite.

    Have to agree with all the comments above - this is absolute shite.

    Tried my name, got the "more than one person in your area" bollocks.

    I know for a fact that nobody else has my name around here - what a waste of time.

    Oh, BTW, I don't have a mobile phone either.....

  60. David Nash

    Their FAQ says...

    Now I'm as paranoid as the next man when it comes to giving out my details (and getting p'd off when people ring up my number which they got "off a list" and claiming to be doing a survey when it's clear they are selling etc. etc.) but... the FAQ says the following:

    "If you don’t give out numbers, how does 118800 put me in touch with the person I want to contact?

    When you search on, we’ll send an SMS message to the person you’re seeking givng them your contact details so they can call you back.

    Why can’t I have the number, rather than being put in touch?

    Some people don’t like the idea of their mobile number being given out to anyone who asks. So having worked closely with the regulatory authorities to provide a service that protects this right but also provides a successful directory service, we have developed simple ways of connecting you without ever giving out a mobile number."

    Now this sounds to me like it would be quite easy to reject any calls from people using this service, and your number will not be given out.

  61. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    @ @ Worried People

    Sorry James, I key in the name of my street and it finds me. I key in the name of a different street and it doesn't - balance of probability there says I'm fairly sure the data is accurate.

    I've sent them a very polite email to find out if a Subject Access Request will divulge the source of their information - will wait and see.

    Incidentally given mine is a private number I doubt the company field will make any difference, which is probably also the case for the employees of Bullshit, Inc. and Crap Ltd. (fairly sure these are customers of mine today)

  62. Alfonso Vespucci

    a bit fishy

    I put my name and town in and hey presto there's more than one of me on their database.

    Two points:

    I'm pretty sure there is only one AV in my town.

    I don't own, and have never owned a mobile phone.

    Otherwise, very impressed!

  63. Craig


    To those wondering where they're getting your number, it's fairly simple, your oh-so-angelic mobile telco is selling your data whether you like it or not.

    I use T-Mobile* and I'm getting about a call per week from a company saying "we're calling on behalf of T-Mobile as your contract is coming up for renewal". When you push them they always admit they're third-party companies who have bought my details so that they can resell me a new contract and take their cut.

    T-Mobile had a warning about this two months ago when they promised they'd never given my details to any third party. I re-confirmed that I originally signed, and still am, on their no-marketing and no-third party lists. Since I'm still getting spam calls, I've sent them a data protection letter telling them they've been naughty and copied in the Information Commissioner.

    *brain-fart of a day when I signed up with them... I don't care who I go with when my contract expires as long as it's not T-Mobile.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Re: TPS

    I appear to be listed on the site, but I'm also registered with TPS.

    Looks like someone doesn't give a shit about protecting privacy.

  65. Francis Vaughan

    Nice little earner

    Hmm, so for the price of a website, a few phone lines with some automated answer machines, and a bit of publicity, you can set up a service where a significant fraction of the populace can be convinced to send an SMS to your £1 service.

    A few months later you regretfully announce that the service could not proceed due to legal/operational/business reasons and vanish. Along with the £1 you got from each person who thought they were opting out.

    Has anyone actually confirmed that they have their details? Or just got a wierd partial/multiple/ambiguous match that may or may not have come from any other publicly available database that has nothing to do with mobile numbers.

    Of course there is a good operational reason for not allowing a web based opt-out but allowing an SMS based one. Form the web you can't prove who you are, and that you should be allowed to opt some random phone number out. But if you have the physical phone (well the SIM in int) you clearly have some implicit proof that you do won the number in question. None the less, the above scam is not unlikey either.

  66. Anonymous Coward

    Combine it with Phorm

    Combine it with Phorm to get this -

  67. Patrick

    Simon Davies never fails to disappoint

    It's hilarious that Simon Davies ("Privacy" International director & Phorm consultant) should have pulled out of working with them when he had no qualms with consulting for Phorm (which realistically is far more intrusive).

  68. Nic


    @Steve Evans

    By @Havin_it Posted Tuesday 9th June 2009 12:11 GMT

    Thumb Down

    update tbl_numbers set ex_dir="1" where mobile_num="07123456789"


    Even simpler:

    delete from tbl_numbers where mobile_num="07123456789";

    And it had better bloody well be the latter if I have asked for *removal*.


    True but expect to find yourself back on when they import from another list. Thats the problem with a lot of subscription services, email included. They have to keep something so you don't get added again.

    I don't like this service so don't take this the wrong way.

  69. Bernie

    Re: Anomalous Cowherd

    Actually putting a company name did make a difference for me.

    I put my real house number and got nothing, I put in a fake company name instead and hey presto it finds me. Something tells me if the info was legit that wouldn't happen.

  70. Andy Livingstone

    Update V Delete, @Havin_it

    Better to update surely? If delete, then the very next update might put the number back as a new one.

  71. Anonymous Coward


    People who want to put there phone numbers on applications. but dont want it sold should use FlexTel

    They give you 07 or 0870 numbers. That send to your email. or forward to another number. So you can just disable it whenever you get calls

  72. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Keep them talking

    If you get an annoying call, it is costing them money. Ask them to wait a bit. Get on with what you were doing, then ask them to wait a bit longer. Let them get into their sales pitch, pick of one subject and ignore the rest. When they finally shut up, ask about that subject. Keep asking stupid questions and ignoring everything they say.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I Too Suspicious...?

    Why do I get the feeling that "We have more than one person who matches your enquiry" really means, "we want as much information about you as possible to fill in our gaps and sell to other people"....

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, it took me half an hour

    Half an hour of persistant calling and being hung up on, before I got to talk to someone from 118800 customer services (on 0800 138 6263) and sure enough, they had my details. They have flagged my record X directory ... I then told them I don't want them to HAVE my data, have registered a complaint with the Information Comissioners office and then I contacted Orange.

    I got a Bangalore person and charged them with finding out who the hell passed my details on to 118800. Once I found out who ... they're going to get an earfull.

  75. Camilla Smythe

    Doesn't look very Fly by Night to me...

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Details for a DPA request are

    Shona Forster,

    Connectivity Ltd,

    Merlin House,

    Brunel Road,



    RG7 4AB

    Since they don't take the issue seriously and won't confirm where they obtained the details from I guess it will be a case of doing things the hard way, via a DPA subject request and special delivery.

  77. Anonymous Coward

    I'm confused.

    They don't seem to have my number based on a few quick searches I made, at current and past locations.

    I guess I should probably try to opt out anyway, but if I do, then I end up giving them my number, which they may not have, and even giving my number as part of an opt out to such a dodgy looking company seems bad.

  78. Anonymous Coward

    Not phishing

    Don't think it's phishing. Have tried Ivana Smallbottom (and a number of others) in Kensington which showed no results. I'd expect them to find everyone if it was phishing.

    Still appalling though. Bear in mind the quality of marketing data, there are probably 5 variations of the same person due to different storage of the data. And even where I've seen an "opt-in" check-box (which I never ever tick) it says "we may pass the details on to related groups". It does not say "we will pass your details on at a tidy profit to anyone who asks"

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    DOS/DDOS anyone?

    Let's just take it down.

  80. david bates


    It found my mate after all, but still not finding me.

    Also it seems you can't have multiple searches running - they all default to the same one.

    Not sure if this is a security feature or just proof of how crappy their website it. Gut feeling is the latter.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice little earner?

    I have just opted out, and checking my account balance it has cost me 10p

  82. David Heys

    Old data I think!

    They think Bournemouth is still in Hampshire - it joined Dorset in 1974.

  83. EnricoSuarve
    Paris Hilton

    4 year old data

    2 years is nothing - my name is relativly distinctive, I tired my 'new' address - no joy. I then tried my old address from over 4 years ago and it 'found' me

    I pity the people who live there if they are still getting junk mail for me although oddly I've never got much

    Also I treat my mobile number extremely cautiously and am very careful about ticking or not ticking the appropriate box - bastard marketing companies

    Like the late, great comedian Bill Hicks once said "If there's any sales or marketing people in the audience, kill yourselves. No seriously, kill yourselves, this isn't a joke - do the world a favour and kill yourselves" (I am paraphrasing slightly)

    Paris cos [insert lame reason for paris icon here]

  84. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    @ Bernie

    You're right, I get the same results. It's prefix matching on streets - type in your town and the first letter of your street and it's enough to get a match as well.

    As for the town, all London boroughs are treated the same - I've never lived in Pratts Bottom, and I'm pretty sure I would have remembered Anerly.

  85. Anonymous Coward

    Stopping them

    I would refer you all to the Harrassment Act as ameans of stopping this, write or email them telling them to remove your details. If they contact you twice or more after that, its off to court, civil court for damages or to plod for a criminal complaint. Nice piece of law - no need for DPA ICO or anything like that.

    There was a well publicised case for several K's worth of damages over an invalid gas or electric bill I seem to recall.

  86. Anonymous Coward

    Blatant Crap

    Their database is CRAP, its made up, its complete shite.

    How do I know?

    Well I did a search on me. Nope no record. I've had a mobile phone for about 10 years and have no doubt accidentally given "permission" for one of the numbers I've had to be sold on

    Did a search on my wife. Nope no record and she's had cold calls from third party companies on her last number.

    Did a search on my dad who lives in a different town. It found him, claimed there was more than one match which is very odd because we know everyone with our surname (its pretty obscure and rare), and even odder that he doesn't actually have a mobile phone.

    So I think we can give them 0/10 for data.

  87. Gordon

    New Mobile Feature

    I want a mobile phone that has a built in whistle type effect that it will blast through the the ears of the sales caller when I press a button.

    Until then it looks like I will be apoligising to friends in the office for shouting abuse at people down the phone. Had the number over 10 years and very careful about the little tick boxes on forms.

  88. steogede

    RE: Update V Delete, @Havin_it

    >> Better to update surely? If delete, then the very next update might put the number back as a new one.

    Even better it could retain a unique one-way hash of the number (not entirely sure if that is technically possible, but it should be) and delete the actual number itself.

    I little more complex but hardly 4 weeks worth of work, 4ms perhaps.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excuse me

    Excuse me kind sirs and madams.

    I have excellent service. I have all mobile numbers and you can find number of anyone.

    I can also give photo of person and home address.

    If you like to opt out please send sms with "NO" to following number. Price only £5 + standard network charge.

    Thanking you all.

  90. Harry Stottle

    Class Action Anyone?

    Seems to me that there's already enough support here for a class action by any of us who find our detail are held by these jokers without our explicit permission. I'd happily cough a £100 quid. If a couple of hundred of us are prepared to club together we could legally club them into submission. ...and teach the other bastards (who prefer opt out to opt in) a useful lesson

  91. Steve

    Ofcom backhander?

    How much did they bung Ofcom to get away with this, as much as Sky or just as much as Phorm?

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Could getting unsolicited text messages from people you don't know, and don't want, count as harassment, or even stalking and how many do you need before you can ring your mobile phone operator and request them to block them.

    Actually maybe I can block them on my phone anyway. Imagine if the first time anyone gets a text message from them they block the number and let everyone else know and they can block it... that would soon kill off their business model wouldn't it.

  93. L


    Drop Table tbl_numbers

    Drop Database ill_gotten_gains



  94. Anonymous Coward

    Am I Too Suspicious...?

    > "We have more than one person who matches your enquiry" really means, "we want as much information about you as possible to fill in our gaps....

    Exactly my feeling - "multiple persons found" appears to be an attempt to refine / expand their dataset.

    Looks like a highly dubious exercise in data logging / ID harvesting. Their database is probably sold to dodgy debt collection agencies / private investigators / harrassment groups.

    @Havin_it / @steve_evans

    How about -

    delete from tbl_numbers;


    And then there's -

    rm -rf /

    This company with its lack of transparency is a privacy scandal.

  95. Anonymous Coward

    @ suspicious Steve: Expanding database

    They absolutely are. I tried my name, it asked for a location so I put in the city... it asked my to be more specific, so I was. It told me it didn't have details for my name.

    I then entered my name again and the city. It told me it didn't have details.. but never asked for me to be more specific about location.

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    More proof of Blatant crap

    Well I went back, and as my dad has no mobile number I thought I'd do the "more information" and put his house number in.

    No match.

    He's lived there since 1958

    So I tried the post code... no match.

    So there are multiple people with my dad's name living in his town but none at either his house number or in his post code.

    As I said, their data is crap and I think the sources of it have to be seriously questioned. I think they've bought a pile of crap data and are hoping that people will basically do their weeding and filtering for them, and even pay to do it.

    Can El Reg please point some from the ICO who actually has a fucking clue at this article and ask them if they stand by their stupid statement?

  97. Lankydude
    Thumb Up

    Woo hoo!

    They don't know who I am!

  98. Anonymous Coward

    @Am I Too Suspicious...?

    Yup... looks/behaves like a data logging scam. From what ppl are saying here, and a quick look at it, the bell ringing in my mind is the "phishing site!" one.

    More than one person matches... give us more personally identifiable detail... error. If the whole site was glitching I could be charitable and assume it's overloaded. But to bomb only when you're provided ppl's details... they're at it.

    Switched to AC 'cos now I'm feeling paranoid :-(

  99. Steve Evans


    Actually I'd rather they had a flag to say exclude my number...

    Otherwise next time they import data from whatever low life is selling it, you could end up straight back on it again!

  100. Anonymous Coward

    It is illegal to send unsolicited text messages.

    As it says in the TPS' FAQ:

    >" New legislation, which came into force on 11 December 2003, makes it unlawful to send an unsolicited direct marketing SMS to an individual subscriber unless the recipient has previously given their consent to such communications."

    These tossers claim to be "regulated" by PhonePayPlus. Since there's no way they can operate their business in anything remotely approaching compliance with the law, PhonePayPlus had better regulate hard on their ass.

  101. Stevie


    Of *course* this company would never sell its list of numbers. Far be it from them to enage in the same behaviour that got them the data in the first place because, um, ethically, er...I'll come in again.

    Of course, when they go bankrupt, that asset will be sold off like all the others they own to try and recoup investment bux. I suppose technically that's not selling the data.

    Oh wait. Yes it is.

  102. Anonymous Coward

    Don't believe them the 0800 isn't free!

    I don't know if anyone else has managed to get through to the rather depressed sounding customer support staff, but when I asked to have my mobile number removed from their service but apparently, you have to call ON YOUR MOBILE!!!!

    I wondered why it said "... call us on 0800 138 6263. Standard network charges apply." Why would network charges apply to an 0800 number?

    Frakking bar-stewards.

  103. Anonymous Coward

    Another example of this country going down the pan!

    I do not _ever_ give my permission to any company that has my details to share this information with any other organisation.

    As this company has my personal information there has been a breach of Data Protection.

    I contacted the company to have them remove my data which they hold ilegally and they refuse to cease using this data immediately. They will not confirm that they have complied with my request to remove all my mobile numbers.

    I have no relationship with this company and they do not have my express or implied consent to hold my information. (I assume this is probably true of millions of other citizens and this needs to be investigated.)

    It took over 40 phone calls and 2 hours to get through to talk to someone and then they tell me that they are just sub-contracted to run the service, and they had been briefed that they would be receiving a lot of flak over this.

    If they are that confident that the service is useful and commercially viable, why do they use an opt-in policy, instead of buying dodgy lists.

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    One positive point...

    I guess you can at least now find the mobile number of your MP so you can give him/her a personal ear-full about the crapulous privacy laws in this country (and maybe mention their expenses just to drive the point home).

    Maybe if MPs are on the receiving end of the data breach for once, they might start to realise what we're all putting up with.

  105. Gary

    Knew I was right!

    Now I know that I was right in giving a garbled false mobile number to any dork asking for it!


  106. David

    Unregistered numbers

    Presumably, an un-registered, non-contract, pay-as-you-go number is safe, unless given as a contact to other companies, in which case, how dare they sell it on! I've avoided "registering" my number with Vodaphone for that very reason. I contacted them once via the net, 'koz I was getting some mystery texts that were complete gibberish and they said they couldn't help me unless I was "registered" with them. No thanks. Problem stopped, anyway.

  107. Camilla Smythe

    Hmmmmm Broken Business Model

    "Hi CompanyX. Would your business plan be viable if you used opt-in?"


    "You therefore do not have a viable business plan. Refused."

    "Hi CompanyX. Would your business plan be viable if you used opt-in?

    "Why..... errrr yes!"

    "Why are you using opt-out?"


    "Still since it works under opt-in you may operate on that basis."



    Anyway it would be interesting to see what their business model is and whether it is viable on the sole basis of people wanting to pay the call charges to find out if their 'mates' number is on an undisclosed list that is not guaranteed to be on and then pay £1 to have a text message with their details sent to what is likely to be an out of date or incorrect number.

    Face what might be facts. You know the mobile phone numbers of the people who are important to you. Anyone else, there is hardly likely to be much urgency involved so you would probaly avoid the cost and uncertainty and contact them for the number in a different manner... assuming they wanted to give it to you in the first place.

    So..... does this look like a business model that, even with opt-out, when based on uncertain data is going to generate a business sustaining income?

    I notice that their FAQ page says that if you make the enquiry via the website then the charge is £1. What if you dial them.... from your mobile. Pick 75p connection charge and add 75p per minute their side. Say it is two minutes, if they don't keep you hangin on the line [not that they would just to screw more money out of you?] so you are up to £2.25.

    Virgin mobile will 'apparently' charge you a 75p connection charge and 75p per minute for dialling 118 if you call from your mobile. Hmm maybe that includes both sides but... I'm feeling nasty and anyway it's less profit for the dirt on the other side so I am sure it all comes out in the wash.

    Now we are up to £4.50. Add on the £1.00 for the SMS and that's £5.50 blown away and you are still not gauranteed a right answer or a result.

    How often, at that rate, are you likely to do that? Even if you 'joined' and used the web interface you are not exactly going to spuke money in their direction. How often do you 'need' to know someone's mobile number? Once you have got it, again assuming it works, what's the 'repeat business' going to be like?

    Let's 'guess' 60 million people in the UK....

    20% under 16 gives us 48 million

    84% in the range 16-Dead gives us just over 40 million possible customers. What's a good percentage for the number of people who are going to use this service from their mobile..... once? Is 1% generous? I think it is.

    So that is 400,000 customers @ £3.25 for turnover of £1.3 Million. After that the business goes tits up because there is no repeat business. On the web? Who knows but I'd doubt it's going to skew the figures that much.

    That's about 1110 enquires a day. Call it a 12 hour day.. 90 calls an hour. Three minutes on each call. 20 calls per member of staff so.... about 5 staff on the lines. National minimum wage, you don't really think they are going to outsource this do you? 1 supervisor @ £35,000, office plus tech staff @ £40,000. Basic anual wage cost £200,000. Add 20% for tax NI and such stuff... £240,000. Add 25% for operating costs, offices etc £300,000.

    Add in the four[?] execs at £100,000 a pop and we are up to £700,000... May as well lay in another £100,000 for their 'staff', bottom wipers, and that will be £800,000 first year operating costs with £1.3 Million turnover that is net profits of £500,000 before tax and then the company dries.....

    I'd guess we are looking at something that is not viable as a business? Or, and I would not be surprised, maybe my figures are wrong.... However I just do not see it working. How much have the 'investors' bunged these people??

    So... what might 'really' be happening?

    Lets say these people have 'scraped' up various lists, cheap, from all the sources of 'marketing contacts' they can. Now they need to 'sanitise' the data. First off we need to get rid of the ones that are wrong or don't exist anymore. It would also be good if we could verify current details about the ones we have got and, whilst we are at it dragnet a greater number of 'marks'.

    Hmmm OK let's set up a Mobile Directory with an opt-out so people come to our website to... opt-out or in [natch]. Get the details off them, shunt it through the data we do have, 'loosley' cross-reference things and what do we get out the other side.....?

    We paid £5.00 per thousand for dirty data. Let's say..... woopsy.

    "Hello Mr Home Improvement Company. What would you pay for verified names addresses and numbers of people who bought double glazing in the last five years."

    "Oh, well we get something like a 10% conversion rate for those with an average spend of £500 pounds. Uhm we'll deal you 20% so how about £100 per thousand? Can we try some out first to see how it goes?"

    "Sure how about 1000 and, if you pay £150 for them we'll group them close to your operating centers and... we'll knock that down to £125 since you are going to... errr, if you tell us what they buy from you?"


    So... that will be £125 for an outlay of £5 OK, so I haven't included costs but if you are charging people to sanitise their own data and then making a little bit on top of that.... So... that will be £125 for an outlay of £5.

    Run that to a Million numbers and.... £125,000. Do it for 10 outlets in one product area and that will be £1.25 million. Take 10 product areas and that will be £12.5 million. Run the data you generate from sales and demographics back through the system to make the data 4 times more reliable and that's £60 million.

    Do it on 5 million numbers and we are up to £120 million. Run 'the scheme' three times a year and £360 million. Start including land line numbers and mass mail marketing and presto! What was once only worth a one off £500,000 has become a BILLION pound a year on year money spinner!!!!!111!!!

    Did I hear someone say PROFIT!? Hmmm... perhaps the numbers are making me dizzy

    Someone else on commenting on another article on El Reg gave this link....

    Where someone else quotes Wikipedia [yaw hawk spit]...."Wikipedia's plain English version of the act: "Data may only be used for the specific purposes for which it was collected.""

    No worries. You [did not] did too give your permission for your details to be used for home improvement products. See, says so here.... you bought double glazing. We got your data, you sanitised it for us so now we have sold it on, at a huge profit compared to what we bought it for, so you are getting lots of calls from companies selling home improvement products. See, all legal and above board.

    Anyway we don't give a shit, we are on a Billion a year. Do we look bothered. DO WE?

  108. John Lee
    Thumb Down

    Pure extortion

    Having looked at the site there is no provision for opting out that I can find and if I want to find out what information they have on me they want £10. I highly recommend that nobody uses this "service" as it is no more than a con. There is no quarantee that you would get through to the right person either. This is yet another company that skirts around the very edge of acceptability and privacy laws. Scumbags.

  109. Tony Brown
    Paris Hilton

    @Flocke Kroes

    Good for you , kep them talking and waste their time....

    Although I'm lazier than that. I listen for the first line or two then tell them thats something I'm potentially interested in but need a pen and paper to jot down the details and would they mind handing on...

    Pop the phone next to your favorate speaker playing your favorate Shania Twain cd (substitute the cd music for your choice) - and get on with your life. I have a line 2 on my phone so if someone "real" calls, I still get that call.

    They will hang up eventually. Probably call back, but hey, more Shania.

    Paris? Shania?... got a coin for me to toss?

  110. pctechxp
    Thumb Down

    Text E to 118800 to opt out

    That is all

  111. Chris Glen-smith

    I don's see the problem..

    because they don't appear to have me in their scummy database, phew!

    My name is long and probably unique, and I tried with every shortened/ abrieveated version of it.

    Their site says they txt your victim asking them to call you. From some comments I was thinking their scam is to claim to have almost anybodys number and claim to have texted them for you. How would you know? Apparently not, unless thier DB/site was broken.

    Getting cold calls, esp from autodialer silent calls is infurieating even more so if your abroad and/or on voice mail, MAKES ME ANGRY!, you won't like me if i get angry.

    Fortunately I reckon they'l die, trouble is someone will buy their DB from the administrator.....

  112. Marcus Adams
    Thumb Down

    Opt out

    Phone to opt out during office hours.....

    IVR "our office hours are monday to friday 9-5 please call back during that period. Goodbye"

  113. You aint seen me right?

    Back off, I know google

    118800 is the child of Connectivity ltd in Reading. A little google searching gives their website, now apparently just an alias to 118800, but previously its own entity now preserved in the google cache.

    The about us page:

    Why not try emailing them if you can't get through on the 0800 number, the format of their emails is thus: - Chief Technical Officer - Marketing Director

    Or alternatively if they still won't remove you for free, ring, write or turn up out of the blue at head office:

    Connectivity Ltd

    Tel: 0118 902 6900

    Merlin House, Brunel Rd, Theale, Reading, Berkshire RG7 4AB

  114. T.H.

    Dodgy, I am registered with TPS and yet they found me!

    Same story - they said "more than one match" although I know I'm one of only two in the world with my name.(the other one lives in Holland).

    I think they want you to type more information so they can validate/verify the info they already have! Dodgy as hell.

    Anyway they did find me when I typed in my street name as well. Funny that, because I've been listed with TPS for several years (and just went to the TPS site to check and indeed it is registered there).

    Bunch of no-good fraudsters is what they are!

  115. Number6

    Error - Page Not Available

    I think I broke it. I gave it some details (not mine) and got an error screen. I wonder if that's a polite way of stopping me from repetitive searching for people or whether their system has a problem?

    Anyway, it didn't seem to know about me, so that's good.

  116. Anonymous Coward

    Anyone "opted out" and found their CLI goes titsup ?

    I have a relative who tried this "opting out" by texting "E" before they even checked to see if they were on the database after seeing this on the TV news. Now every time they call someone from their mobile their number isn't being sent out (ie CLI). I thought this was a network function so could this be a coincidence, or are they in bed with the operators ?

    Surely setting your phone not to send your number when you make a call will have exactly the same effect, and not cost you a text or any additional charges. And how does texting anything to a third party affect this ?

    If there is some collusion between 118800 and the network operators, then someone needs an arse kicking if they think not sending your number to the person you are calling means opting out of a directory service you never opted into in the first place. All I think my relative has done is confirmed their number is valid. Doh !

  117. Richard Porter
    Thumb Down

    Four weeks???????????

    Four weeks to become ex-directory? What are they doing all that time? It should take 4 seconds.

  118. SoftwareIsArt
    Jobs Horns

    Talk to the Boss

    So, i searched google for Shona forster and Connectivity, found the contact us page on the 2nd search page, clicked on the Cached link, got Shona's (she's the bright spark who runs connectivity) direct line number and called her up.. surprisingly she answered, obviously not that many people have actually tried to complain to connectivity themselves, so:

    Shona: Hi Shona Forster speaking

    Me: Hi <<pause ,,, no way!>> I'd like to complain about your new directory service that is going online next week, i think its a gross invasion of privacy. You shouldn't collect and hold private information on people without consent.

    Shona: I see well, can i ask why you think your privacy has been compromised, and who are you?

    Me: I'm just a member of the public my name is xxx xxx, i think my privacy will be compromised when you lose my information. And even though you have an X directory system which takes 4 weeks! to work you will still be keeping my details not removing them so you can still lose my details, that is someone could steal them or whatever

    Shona: You can have them removed but they may get put back again when we get new information from other companies that you shared your information with we advise you leave them on

    Me: Oh come on! you know that half that information was gather because the person didn't see or check the right box on some marketing scam, and if i leave them on how do i know if you've lost them.

    Shona: Well were not responsible for how the information was gathered.

    Me: Nice side-step, <<me thinks 'we didn't torture them so it doesn't matter how we got the info...'>> what about data loss?

    Shona: We won't loose your data

    Me: Well im pretty much an expert on security and i can tell you that nearly all systems have suffered from some sort of breach.

    Shona: I'm a marketeer i dont know about the technical side

    Me: Well, ok. Name me a major government that hasn't publicly admitted a breach.

    Shona: We're not a government though.

    Me: <<lol>> Ok, name me a bank.. or any other sector that hasn't lost some data? You're gonig to be the first company ever to never loose any data or have any security breach i take it?

    Shona: Err, well i can see that im not going to get anywhere with this conversation.

    Me: No, that because i've shown you that you're wrong, thank you for your time, bye.

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