back to article Users shop cold-calling telco to ICO: 'She said she was from Openreach'

A Dartford-based telco has been handed an £85,000 fine for two years’ of nuisance and "misleading" calls - despite a warning from the UK’s data protection watchdog. The Information Commissioner’s Office stepped in to investigate True Telecom - which offers broadband and call services - after receiving 201 complaints about …

  1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    True Telecom did not immediately respond to a request for comment

    Maybe they don't like being cold-called

  2. LeahroyNake

    The police

    Very similar to cold calls that I have received from the 'Police' nice tactic to keep you on the phone for 20 seconds until you realise that they are trying to sell you something. Now my reply is something similar to give me a reference number and I will call my local station or send me a letter, hang up.

    It's beyond me that they think they can get away with this crap !

  3. Alan J. Wylie
    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Accounts overdue, too

      There's a lot of directors' expenses in last year's accounts, and it doesn't look like they are paying any tax.

    2. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Accounts overdue, too

      For maximum fun, check the filing history: they dodged being mandatorily dissolved a couple of years ago.

      1. Mark 110

        Re: Accounts overdue, too

        I am at risk of using the 'c' word again . . ah fuck it. They are utter cunts aren't they?

        1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
  4. Lee D

    I have a TPS registered phone.

    If it rings and you're not on my contact list, I assume you are happy to break the law so I don't even answer, let alone speak to you. If those numbers wanted anything important, they'd text me or contact me in other ways.

    Fact is, every non-addressbook number I get is quickly google-able as a spam caller. It means that TPS isn't being enforced. Start enforcing it, ICO. £85k is a slap on the wrist. Literally they have ZERO LEGAL BASIS to be calling me. Drag them through the courts.

    Sure, I don't get a lot of spam, especially not for a number nearly 15 years old, but even the little I get is annoying when I have bothered to register the number properly.

    And I don't get why you'd try TPS numbers anyway. Literally those people have said "I don't want any more telesales calls, ever." What do you think the chances are of them taking so kindly to your call that they'll give you money? It has to be a scam or misrepresentation, or it just wouldn't work.

    We really need telecoms providers to be made liable too, for facilitating those calls. Maybe if they shut down those numbers - public and established enough to show on the who-calls-me-type websites - then we wouldn't have this problem.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      "And I don't get why you'd try TPS numbers anyway"

      Because the systems to filter out TPS subscribers are more expensive than the fines, and the chances of being fined are tiny.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        " the chances of being fined are tiny."

        If the government was SERIOUS about killing this kind of scam, they'd allow a right of private action like the USA did in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (47 USC 227) - look it up.

        Making the callers and the companies they advertsie for jointly and severally liable has had a marked chilling effect on unwanted marketing phone calls in the USA over the last 26 years - mainly because the death of 1 million papercuts is a lot harder to avoid than playing whack-a-mole with regulators.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "And I don't get why you'd try TPS numbers anyway."

      Even stranger are those who use the "we've done business with you before" excuse for ringing a TPS number. Do these idiots not realise that it's going to lead to never doing business again?

    3. Alan J. Wylie

      Years ago the ICO were absolutely useless - reports of abuse disappeared into a black hole.

      These days, they want to give the impression that they are trying harder. They are at Glasgow Central Station today giving advice on Nuisance Calls.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If those numbers wanted anything important, they'd text me"

      You don't get SMS spam? Lucky you.

      (One of the worst offenders is the Labour Party around election time. I've never joined or even entertained the idea of joining the party. But they still think it's fine pull my details from wherever and spam me)

    5. m-k

      re. Drag them through the courts.

      I have a nasty feeling that the courts (the law) are as toothless, as the ICO, and the company will quickly disappear (if it hasn't already)...

      1. davidp231

        Re: re. Drag them through the courts.

        And no doubt reappear as True Telecoms Ltd (with absolutely no connection to True Telecom). Rinse and repeat, ad infinitum.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. phuzz Silver badge

      What happens if you bank calls to tell you you're overdrawn? Mine always has a withheld number, so there's no way to tell who's ringing.

      Mind you, I only get about one spam call a month and take great delight in wasting their time, which I assume is why so few of the fuckers try ringing me any more :)

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Another problem is with Number withheld


    I'd love to be able to block all of them but the effing NHS insists on using withheld numbers when they call you. The excuse is Patient Confidentially.

    One day I hope that someone will realise that people block these calls because scammers use this tactic and because of the blocking people don't get important calls about their or their families health.

    They could put a publically available number in the call but no, they can't be bothered to setup their telephone systems.

    1. michael cadoux

      Re: Another problem is with Number withheld

      In fact most places with a switchboard e.g your child's school. I have some sympathy with them, since all public services are financially stretched to breaking point these days. But usually they leave a voice message, so no harm done.

      1. Cynic_999

        Re: Another problem is with Number withheld

        There is a good reason for companies to keep their number withheld. An employee within the company may well call someone using the company's phone for a perfectly legitimate reason (e.g. returning a sales query or calling back to give support, advise of a change in status of an order etc.).

        If there is no answer and the person later sees they have a missed call and calls back, then unless every phone in the company has it's own unique POTS number, and that number is sent via CID, they would at best get through to the company's general receptionist, who would have no idea who may have called that person or why. Even if the person calling back recognizes the name of the company (which many will not), and so can guess the probable nature of the call, it may still not help to locate the employee who called. This makes the company appear unprofessional, as well as wasting a great deal of time if any effort is made to find out who may have called.

        Police officers who call victims of crime and witnesses do not generally have caller ID for a similar reason.

        "Hello, Metropolitan police, how may I help?"

        "Hello, this is John Smith - I just received a missed call from your number ..."

        1. Matt 70

          Re: Another problem is with Number withheld

          As an ex PABX programmer I can tell you that it would normally be handled by having sales groups outbound CID sent to the group inbound DDI and most individual phones within an office that were allowed inbound calls would be allocated DDI's. With CLI, whichever agent picked up the phone would register who the caller was and proceed as normal. I'm sure that since me leaving the industry CMS have become even more integrated and so would only be a problem if the caller was withheld.

          1. Cynic_999

            Re: Another problem is with Number withheld


            normally be handled by having sales groups outbound CID sent to the group inbound DDI


            What percentage of companies have a PABX capable of that?

        2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Another problem is with Number withheld

          Yes, it's a problem.

          But why do you think the private user should take the cost instead of the business initiating the calls ?

  6. Thicko

    People are far too polite with cold callers and consequently get taken advantage of. Just say "not today thank you" and put the phone down without waiting to hear the reply. They soon move on to easier suckers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Polite with Cold callers

      But... some kind Indian man keeps trying to tell me that I have a problem with my computer invariably when I'm in the middle of something. They can't seem to accept that I don't use Windows so my Windows system can't have a problem.

      Am I doing something wrong here? :) :) :) :) :wink:

    2. Baldrickk

      Too polite

      That's what I do.

      To be honest though, I would like to give them a proper diatribe of vitriolic verbal effluent, but I am not spontaneous enough to come up with it on the spot.

      I'm quite happy with my contract including subscription to a call filtering service, which lets me know in advance if it's doing to be worth my time even considering answering the phone. I mute it and let it ring out these days, every second spent being completely ignored by me is a second they are not spending harassing someone else.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too polite

        I mute it and let it ring out these days, every second spent being completely ignored by me is a second they are not spending harassing someone else.

        Sadly not. The scum with a call centre use autodiallers that estimate when the next "agent" will be free, and then simply dump answered outbound calls if there's no agent available. Legitimate (but despicable) UK sales call centres used to do this, but now it is (in effect) an offence to make these silent calls. Not that the law stops the crooks.

        As they probably don't update their lists because of non-answers, you're causing them no problem at all by letting it ring without answering - the autodialler will be consecutively and concurrently making dozens of outbound calls. What does cause them a problem is people answering and stringing the agent along. They then pay a connected call fee (probably not charged for a ring tone no reply call), and you take up their agent's time. The downside is you've revealed that the number is live, and you have to waste your own time. Best bet is probably the prompt answer, and "not today thank you" as soon as you;re connected to a human.

    3. staggers

      If the caller asked for my father by name he would tell them he's dead. How we laughed. He is now, but no one calls him. Still, I suppose that since he can't answer it doesn't matter. But still a bit of someone's time wasted.

  7. Charles Smith

    Praise for BT

    I hate to say it, but our BT Call Protect works quite well at keeping spam calls away.

    1. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: Praise for BT

      Funnily enough BT tried to sell me that advantage when they cold-called me!

  8. The Dogs Meevonks

    I used to have fun with these cold callers/scammers and so forth... if I ever got a call from some very 'indian' sounding caller with the chirpy name of... let's say 'Bob'... I immediately reply with 'Hello Bob, my name is Apu Nahasapeemapetilon... but you can call me Mr Nahasapeemapetilon'.. I then feign interest in their pitch, pretend to be unaware of how computers work and use a lot of the stories/myths you hear on places like this to wind them up... Like not knowing how to turn a computer on and after a few mins they finally figure out I'm turning on the monitor... or telling them I don't have a phone.. whilst talking to them on it... you'd be surprised at how many don't twig to this one.

    Many of them are too stupid to get the reference/jokes at their expense... some get shirty, some hang up... but every single time... I chuckle away like a little kid with my pocket money in a sweet shop. :)

    Then I got some new phones (BT8500) with built in call guardian, and have never had a single spam/scam call since. I also got a Wilefox Storm mobile phone 18 months ago which has Truecaller built in, and that's stopped 99% of all scam/spam calls/texts to my mobile.

    But I must confess... I miss having fun with them, wasting their time and preventing them from calling others... But my elderly mum who was getting a dozen of them a day... also now has the same phones I do and isn't being harassed any more either... it's worth paying for that alone as they would start calling around 7-8am and go on until 9-10pm.

    In case anyone is interested, I picked up a quad set of the BT8500 phones last summer for £60... refurbished by BT and half the normal price... You can also get them in single/twin/triple sets at various prices. They have paid for themselves multiple times just by leaving me free to do some work in peace and quiet instead of reaching for the phone multiple times a day/night.

  9. m-k

    Dartford-based True Telecom fined £85,000

    surely a misprint, it must have been £850,000...


    oh :(

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Dartford-based True Telecom fined £85,000

      It doesn't matter how much the fine is, they will go bankrupt without paying it and start up a new company. That's what always happens.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT franchise and research

    "BT" Called one of our direct dials, got to the accounts guy who is more polite than me, he then asked me to talk to them (FFS). Lady on the other end wanted to sell me cheaper calls or some unicorn shit can't remember which only that it was something impossible to get from BT, so she starts by asking my name (I told her my job role only) I refused on the grounds I didn't ask for the call and had no way of verifying her identity or business "we need you name for data protection, I can't proceed without it", I managed to not say what was going through my mind but gosh in these days of phishing and the fact BT on the call won't be BT in life it's a joke. They have badly managed themselves into a situation where I associate them with dire service and worse customer relations, together with forced price hikes for football in which I have zero interest. To enforce my opinion they cold call me on a TPS registered number to get me to sign up for a long contract on some technology I'm looking to drop. If it were not for the monopoly BT would have died years ago.

    Oh and don't get me started on "Market research" which don't have to abide by the TPS regs, I'm paid to do a job not spend time giving your company valuable information.

    I think I need to lie down...

    1. Commswonk

      Re: BT franchise and research

      Oh and don't get me started on "Market research" which don't have to abide by the TPS regs...

      Quite so, because they aren't selling anything. However, agree to participate in this "research" at your peril, because any answer you give may be interpreted as your permission for a follow - up sales call. My invariable response to "lifestyle survey" calls is "we do not participate in lifestyle survey calls".

      Or what seems to be the "pestilence du jour" of calls about grants for new boilers / insulation / double glazing et al.

      Anyone else noticed how "pressing 8" to be removed from the calling lists is singularly ineffective?

      1. PNGuinn

        Re: BT franchise and research @Commswonk

        I find that those t*&^%@@£$s are quite upset when I politely interrupt and ask " Ok - how much are you paying?"

      2. Steve the Cynic

        Re: BT franchise and research

        'Anyone else noticed how "pressing 8" to be removed from the calling lists is singularly ineffective?'

        Oh, it does indeed remove you from *that* list. And puts you on the "this number gets answered" list.

        It's like they used to say about spam with a "Click here to remove" or "reply with 'Remove'" line: they removed you from that list and put you on a list of known-valid email addresses. The only viable policies were "black hole" or "bounce".

        On the subject of phone calls: I have two numbers, one mobile and one nominally fixed-line.(1) I give the fixed-line number to NOBODY, so if it rings, it's someone trying to sell me stuff, so I ignore it.(2)

        (1) It's a fixed-line format number (French 03 for north/east France), but arrives on my Internet connection now that I have fibre and was able to cancel the actual fixed line. Unexpectedly, they transferred the fixed-line number to the Internet connection instead of deleting it and keeping the 09-format phone-by-Internet number.(3)

        (2) It's provided with my Internet service, otherwise I'd get rid of it.

        (3) The first call I answered after my provider switched me to fibre was from them, trying to sell me fibre.

  11. crediblywitless

    The notion of Openreach ever actually talking to an ordinary human being should have been a bit of a giveaway.

  12. wiltshirejohn

    Answerphone helps

    We just ignore any calls with number withheld and let the answerphone handle it.

    On the old system I had recorded my own answering message and this resulted in all sorts of spam messages being left.

    The new system (Panasonic I think) comes with a pre-recorded answering message which the shit-bags seem to recognise instantly.

    Result - very few messages left for us. Result indeed !

  13. Jtom

    If enough people could survive without their phones for a couple of hours, we could dent this problem for a while.

    I kept getting calls from a collection agency demanding to speak to someone I never met (same last name, unfortunately). I kept telling them I didn't know the person, never met her, this was not her number, and they would never reach her by calling it). Finally, when I answered yet another call, I simply said, "Hold on, I'll see if I can find her," set the phone down, and went back to my chores. The TV was on, so it was clear I had not hung up. A couple of hours later, I hung up the phone. They never called back.

    I tried that again with a cold caller who kept calling me for a home service. They seemed to think if they called often enough, I would change my mind. How dense is that? After being left holding the phone for a while waiting for 'the head of the household,' they gave up too.

    So, in response to a cold call, say something like, "Hold on, I'll get Mohammed. He'll be very interested in your offer." Put the phone down and forget about it for a while. Not only are you sending them a message, you are wasting their time, tying up their phone line, and keeping them from cold-calling others.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Not only are you sending them a message, you are wasting their time, tying up their phone line, and keeping them from cold-calling others."

      It's even more amusing if you pick up the phone every 5 minutes, apologise for the delay and say you'll keep looking for XYZ.

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