London: A man who got annoyed by cold callers interrupting him while he was watching television has got his own back by setting up his own premium rate number which makes him money.
Lee Beaumont paid £10, plus Vat, to set up his personal 0871 line in November 2011, and said he has made £300 from the calls he has received since.
Beaumont, from Leeds, told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme: “I was getting annoyed with the PPI calls when I’m trying to watch Coronation Street, for instance, so I’d rather have an 0871 so I can make 10p a minute.
“I thought there must be a way to make money off these phone calls.”
He said it was “extremely easy” to carry out research online into how to go about it, and he looked into setting up an 0845 or an 0844 number.
“The best one I found was the 0871, as I could make a good chunk of money,” he said.
Beaumont said he gave out the 0871 number when he needed to talk to utilities companies but had a separate line for his friends and family to call him on.
“Some companies are fine with it,” he added. “Sometimes they won’t call me, and I say fine, you’ve got my email address email me. And 99 per cent of the time they will use my 0871 number.”
He said he was “very honest” if any of the firms asked him why he had done it, but added that the companies were not phoning him as often now.
In 2012 he was getting 20 to 30 calls a month, but has only received 16 so far this month, he said.
Premium number regulator Phone Pay Plus warned against others taking the same measure as Beaumont.
It told the programme: “Premium-rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any listeners from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result.”
Beaumont is not alone in taking action against cold calls in October 2012 Richard Herman told how he had won cash from a claims management company to compensate him for wasting his time with calls.
Research by the charity Citizens Advice has found that two-thirds of adults in Britain have received an unwanted approach from a company trying to encourage them to reclaim mis-sold payment protection insurances.
The organisation said 67 per cent of people had received a cold call, text, email or letter, with more than half saying they had been contacted more than 10 times in the past 12 months. Nine in 10 had received calls from sales people, while four in 10 had received automated messages by phone and a similar number had been texted.
The results, from a survey of 5,682 people aged 18 and over, highlight the huge volume of calls being made by claims management companies keen to encourage consumers to claim for compensation for PPI policies which were mis-sold to people taking out loans and credit cards. However, claims can be made directly, and borrowers have been urged to write to banks and building societies themselves, rather than using a firm which will typically charge around 25 per cent of any compensation payment.
Separate analysis done by the charity earlier this year showed that claims management and similar services accounted for a third of the complaints it received about financial services companies, and that 56 per cent of problems with claims firms stemmed from cold calls. Citizens Advice’s chief executive, Gillian Guy, said nuisance calls were “often a sign that the service on offer isn’t very good or is actually a scam”.
She added: “There is a particular problem with claims management companies. People are finding that sometimes the promises made over an unexpected phone call aren’t delivered. This means people who have been mis-sold PPI lose out twice: first at the hands of the bank and secondly from the claims firms because they don’t get the full compensation they deserve.”
Guy said financial firms should be banned from cold calling. “Then if you get a cold call you’ll know it is either a bogus firm or company not to be trusted,” she said.