TPS Protect Now Allows Users to File Complaints Directly to Regulators About Cryptocurrency Scams
LONDON, March 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Due to the dramatic rise of public interest in cryptocurrencies, some unfriendly organisations are trying to capitalise on this opportunity to scam people out of their hard-earned money. To combat this, the DMA and First Orion today announced they will be launching an update to the TPS Protect app (launched last August) which will include cryptocurrencies as a category for users to fill out reports and complain directly to regulators.
Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, said that crimes linked to Bitcoin increased to 999 in 2017, compared to just 320 in the previous year. In recent months, the warnings about cryptocurrency scams appearing on social media and online ads has prompted major companies such as Facebook and Google to ban any ads relating to cryptocurrency. However, it seems that this has not stopped the spread of these scams from social media to phone calls, raising concerns among regulators.
The majority of reported cases involve callers posing as financial advisors with the promise of astronomical returns on investments, but these tend to be easier to spot. Other reported frauds that are harder to detect involve fraudsters claiming to be from reputable utilities companies claiming they can reduce the monthly cost of said persons bill in return for an annual payment, by credit card, over the phone. The details are then used to purchase cryptocurrency (via online exchanges such as Coinify) and transfer the cryptocurrency purchased to another wallet making it extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible, for the funds to be recovered.
By using TPS Protect, users can protect themselves and help others avoid nuisance or scam calls. The app is powered by its users, with every nuisance and scam call that is blocked, reported or complained about in the app helping to determine the Trust Score for that number. This means that every user's feedback helps TPS Protect to work better for all its users. Now feedback about cryptocurrency-related scams will be accepted and will help prevent future scams.
As part of the app's sign-up process users can ensure their mobile number is registered with the TPS, the official central opt-out register on which consumers can record their preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is a legal requirement that all organisations – including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties – do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so.
Consumers are able to see the Trust Score for incoming calls, look-up a number, as well as report and file complaints for nuisance or scam calls. For an additional 99p per month, users gain greater call filtering customization: they can effectively block any unwanted calls by diverting them direct to voicemail and create a custom Approved List and Blocked List.
Users can add numbers to their personal Blocked List to ensure they no longer receive unwanted calls and can add numbers to the Approved List for those calls they never want to miss. Custom Settings allow users to tailor the types of call they are happy to receive, for example blocking the majority of unwanted calls by setting your Trust Score to 5, but still receiving calls from specific groups, such as 'Charities'.
John Mitchison, Director of Policy and Compliance at the DMA recommends consumer caution, "Criminals are constantly looking for new opportunities, and the emergence of cryptocurrency investment is being exploited. If you don't recognise the number, we recommend being cautious and not sharing any personal information."
Mitchison continues, "Nuisance and scam calls are incredibly annoying, but there is a way to help put an end to this irritation. You can download the TPS Protect app, which allows you to quickly report these types of call to the relevant body, like Action Fraud or the Information Commissioner's Office. It's only with this complaint information that these bodies can investigate and potentially fine companies or even prosecute those that are breaking the rules."
Robert Baker, European MD at First Orion said, "It's important for us to react quickly to changes in the way fraudsters operate and with the rise in exposure of cryptocurrencies to the public, we've noticed an increase in users reporting harassment and fraud from unregistered businesses exploiting uninformed consumers. In response to this, we have added a new category to the complaint form which will allow users to report such offenders directly within the TPS Protect mobile app."
Those who operate legitimately within the cryptocurrency field are concerned about the impact on their businesses and want consumers to follow some simple guidelines before giving any form of payment details over the phone.
Adam Norrie, Portfolio Manager at BitStocks, one of the UK's largest cryptocurrency focused funds, advises consumers that, "If someone calls you out of the blue, offering a guaranteed investment opportunity that sounds too good to be true, then, it probably is."
Despite the lack of regulation on cryptocurrencies, those who are registered businesses aiming to comply with any future regulation are opting to use Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks regardless. These are the standard checks associated with setting up any financial account. You will be asked to provide a proof of address (within 3 months of date) and a recognised form of identification before they are able to accept any form of investment from the individual.
"There are no guarantees in any investments," Norrie said. "Something you can do as an individual is due diligence. Make sure you are investigating every company you are sending money too and ensure they are being compliant with industry standard AML and KYC procedures."
What's a Trust Score?
The TPS Protect app's Trust Score is an indicator created to help users work out who is calling and whether they should pick up or not. The information provided by users helps TPS Protect to better understand whether callers are legitimate businesses, nuisance callers or scammers, allocating an appropriate score according to all the information available.
Once enabled on their phone, users can immediately start to see the Trust Score for any incoming call, enabling them to decide whether they want to pick up or not. Users are able to set their Trust Score from 1 to 5, enabling them to control the overall level of protection they receive. A score of 5 is the highest level of protection, allowing calls only from numbers in their Approved List, a score of 3 will allow calls from most call centres, and a score of 1 will allow all calls, including those from suspected scammers.
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About TPS Protect
TPS Protect is an app developed by the DMA in partnership with First Orion. The app is available for free to Apple (iOS 10.1 or above) and Android (4.4 and above) devices, including a free 60 day trial of additional features for new users. For an additional 99p per month, users can effectively block any unwanted calls by diverting them direct to voicemail, utilise greater call filtering customisation, and have the ability to create a custom approve and block list.
About the DMA
The DMA is a UK trade association for the one-to-one marketing industry - those companies that speak directly to their customers and those companies that help them achieve this. The DMA provides best-practice guidelines and legal services for its members, who are typically marketing, advertising and data-driven organisations. The DMA also runs the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) on behalf of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
More than 1,000 companies in the UK are DMA members. The DMA also holds industry events, conducts research and publishes reports, lobbies for legislation to support its members' business practices and has a close working relationship with the Information Commissioner's Office. All DMA members must comply with the DMA code, which is available to read here: http://dma.org.uk/the-dma-code.
About First Orion
First Orion provides call transparency solutions across multiple platforms, world-class data solutions, in-network call control and its PrivacyStar powered application solutions. First Orion Network Enterprise Solutions (FONES) currently provides call control, call blocking, call transparency and call management solutions to tens of millions of mobile subscribers each day. First Orion's CallerYD® technology tells mobile subscribers who is calling and why, empowering them with the ability to take action. With branded and white-labeled applications as well as in-network solutions, First Orion assists phone carriers in protecting mobile and fixed line subscribers from unwanted calls and identifying unknown calls, including identifying and stopping millions of scam calls every day. First Orion is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas with offices in Seattle, Dallas and London. For regular updates, please visit www.FirstOrion.com.
SOURCE First Orion