Pre-recorded calls tell me I can have £1,000 if I press 5. Is this a scam?

I receive regular calls advising that as I’m 60 or younger (which I’m not) and have a private pension plan, I’m entitled to a refund

I receive regular official-sounding phone calls that are a pre-recorded message advising that as I am 60 or younger (which I’m not) and the member of a private pension plan, I’m entitled to a refund of £1,000 if I press 5. The calls persist despite the fact I am signed up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Is this a scam? RP, Hove, East Sussex

Treat all cold calls with caution: even if they are not scams, there’s always a catch. These companies are after personal details which they can then sell on to other firms.

If you’d pressed 5 you would have been pressured to agree to consult a financial adviser about the viability of your pension and the call company would have received a bung for passing your custom to an advice service. Similarly, the pre-recorded calls about missold payment protection insurance aim to harvest the details of potential victims and sell them to claims companies, which pocket a hefty proportion of any compensation payment. The TPS, which allows householders to opt out of receiving cold calls, is irrelevant in the case of automated nuisance calls, which are unlawful unless the householder has opted in. The trouble is that opting in can be an unconscious process involving an overlooked ticked box on an application form or survey.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, which has the power to fine offenders, says it’s investigating five companies potentially breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations with unsolicited automated calls. Since March 2012 householders can report such calls via an online form at

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