A question about hackers

I keep getting phone calls from shady and random companies asking for a “Mrs Hardwicke”- not my name- and I am ex directory. I just got one a few minutes ago and blew my top demanding who gave them my number and got the ambiguous response that my number and name ( the mysterious Mrs Hardwicke) were on a website with phone numbers. The idiot would not tell me the name of this website. I am at a loss as to how this can happen as only my close friends and family and employer has my home line- and I have never typed the number into order forms online or anything else online. My internet and phone company are at a loss as to how this keeps happening either and are powerless to stop it.
Anyway, this idiot got my Grandad’s old police whistle down her ear and told NEVER to ring me again.
You Linux guys are IT experts- any ideas as to how this has happened? Anyway to track this shady website that has my number?
I am now also getting innundated with credit card junk mail as well. I have a mind to send them something nasty in their pre paid envelopes.

Once your details are out there it’s very hard to do anything about it except to tackle each 'phone call as it comes and by preventing tracking of your web habits. Data about previous owners of your property will still be in use and I used to get lots of 'phone calls for the deceased previous owner of my home. As for junk mail: don’t get mad - just recycle it.
To give you an idea of just how your information gets around, try using a Mozilla-supplied Firefox Add-on called Collusion (https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/collusion/). The description says:
“Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox and allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.”

As you visit web pages, you will be astonished how many companies are tracking you. Once you are convinced, my advice is to remove the add-on as it does slow down your computer.
The next thing I did was to install two Firefox Add-ons:
DoNotTrackMe (IronVest – IronVest)
MaskMe (Abine Privacy)

DoNotTrackMe blocks almost all tracking except for things essential to the website being visited. An icon appears on the Address Toolbar that displays unobtrusively how many organisations are tracking you on each web page – I’ve blocked a total of >5000 attempts in the last month. Even LinuxForums is tracked by Google Analytics and three social media sites.
MaskMe is a great way of providing fictitious (but working) Email addresses, for example when ordering something on-line. You can manage all your fictitious addresses and delete any that send you spam, or simply if you feel like it. The demos shows you how it all works and I use it frequently.
Both services are free, although there are other, paid-for, services if you need them.

Hope this helps a little.
[Edit: Of course tracking does not reveal your identity - just targets web advertising - but stopping it provides a warm feeling]

Wow Keith they are awesome thanks! Just downloaded them. I hate these intrusive control freaks and love that I can stop them tracking me. Brilliant! Can this be downloaded on Microsoft also? Was just thinking of my Mum.

As long as she uses Firefox … yup.


Be aware, not all tracking is necessarily a bad thing … this site uses Google Analytics for things like tracking what search terms people visiting the site are entering, so if necessary I could write a tutorial which helps both searchers and hopefully this sites ranking, etc.

It does NOT allow us to track your movements around the web… just gives us useful anonymous data on visitors to THIS site and the search terms (and possibly links) that brought them here, but ONLY those search terms, no others.

The facebook and google+ buttons were requested, and are only AFAIK tracked when clicked (by them not us).

In the right hands, tracking of anonymous data isn’t a bad thing … but like everything else it’ll be abused by some.

As pointed out, the analytics data is anonymous … and is NOT where your name, address or phone number came from.

But by all means, feel free to block it :slight_smile:

You beat me to it!

I keep getting phone calls from shady and random companies asking for a "Mrs Hardwicke"- not my name- and I am ex directory. I just got one a few minutes ago and blew my top demanding who gave them my number and got the ambiguous response that my number and name ( the mysterious Mrs Hardwicke) were on a website with phone numbers.
They got A number but not YOUR number (unless you provide them with details of your identity as a result of that call). Just because your number is ex-directory that does not mean that it cannot be obtained or indeed generated. There is also Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Dunno how effective it is though. As a rule we DO NOT answer ANY calls unless it is from known sources. Callers are invited to leave a message on the answer phone. You be surprised how few does that. :D

You’re wasting your time with “do not track me” plugins and “ooh, I’m so safe now” plugins. All they do is raise a large flashing light above your head that says “cooee, I’m over here, trying to hide”.

Even if you successfully avoid tracking cookies, your ISP is bound, by law, to keep a track of all the pages you request and visit. Those records have to be kept for 5 years and are viewable by anyone with Government permission (or access to ISP servers via NSA backdoors).
Computers are not entertainment devices into which surveillance-ware has been added. They are surveillance devices with entertainment things added to disguise them.

Just accept it - if you use the internet, everything you do is known. If you have a bank account, mortgage, landlord, any kind of medical records, etc, you are known. If you give your phone number only to friends, who is to say they haven’t been hacked? All State agencies sell your data to private companies. You are a commodity to be traded.

There is no privacy, there is only bravery.

Seek the truth.
Speak the truth.
Love everyone.
Until the day you die.
What else is there?

Re SeZo’s mention of the Telephone Preference Service: I’ve found that it does have some useful effect but as it’s not obligatory for cold-calling firms to use it, the less considerate, pushy calls are the ones we are left with. Overall, I would say that my unwanted calls have reduced by about 80%, which is definitely worth having.

The MaskMe Firefox Add-on also is definitely worth using as one can stop unwanted spam from a company to whom one has supplied a temporary email address simply by deleting it. Who cares if they keep sending to it? - it’s not there any more. No doubt some email providers offer such a service, but mine doesn’t.

IMHO TPS is a waste of space as it only applies to callers trying to call you from within the UK … so international spam shops call centers don’t have to pay any attention to it … and these (for me) seem to make up the majority of time wasters callers …

It’s true about the UK bit, so perhaps you’ve just been unlucky, or perhaps you are more widely known than most of us. I receive about one automated, international, spam call per year. Perhaps I ought to get out more.
Anyway; it’s all about personal preference, and TPS certainly won’t increase telephone spam.

Interesting … you register with an online service and leave your email address plus phone number, and remain confident it won’t increase the spam you’re sent ??

These numbers are available to UK spammers, they need to be so they can make sure your number is not on the TPS do not call list, before they call. Do you not think this list will be a valuable resource for spammers based outside the UK who are not subject to TPS rules???

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2

Good point.

Good point about the phone number. All I can say is that It made a very big difference to the number of cold calls I received - from several a week to several a year. Perhaps the TPS checks the bona fides of participating companies. That would be worth checking.

I’m not sure what you mean about “leaving my Email address with them”. The TPS doesn’t collect Email addresses (hence the name). I give my Email address to only those organisations (such as this Forum) that I trust. If I buy on-line, I use MaskMe to provide a unique, temporary address that I can delete any time I like. So if a supplier spams me I can choose to:

  • accept it (e.g. a radio spares supplier of interest to me)
  • unsubscribe or
  • delete the email address

I guess from the tenor of your post that you have not tried any of these methods, but since taking these measures I have no significant problem with 'phone or Email spam. What more can I say?

TPS does collect email addresses, which it then uses to send you reminders every 12 months, which is the length of time a TPS entry lasts unless you renew it. I don’t know if there is an option for them to call instead of emailing, but given the context I feel this would be counter-productive (!) This is the last email I had from them for example;

Return-Path: ctps@mpsonline.mx00.com
Received: from mail.linux.co.uk (LHLO mail.linux.co.uk) ( by mail.linux.co.uk with LMTP; Wed, 1 May 2013 16:12:10 +0100 (BST)
X-Virus-Scanned: amavisd-new at mail.linux.co.uk
Received: from mail.linux.co.uk ([]) by localhost (mail.linux.co.uk []) (amavisd-new, port 10024)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Disposition: inline
Content-Type: text/plain
X-Mailer: MIME::Lite 3.020 (F2.73; T1.27; A1.77; B3.01; Q3.01)
Date: Wed, 1 May 2013 16:09:56 +0100
From: "CTPS Renewal"<ctps@mpsonline.mx00.com>
Subject: TPS registration confirmation
Message-Id: <20130501150956.901FE2F0AB8@mail2.mx00.com>

Thank-you for renewing your Corporate Telephone Preference Service subscr=
iption.  Your details will be held for a further 12 months.

Many thanks

The TPS Team

My point is that once they have your email address, it’ll be kept somewhere on a database with your phone number. Whether this email address is then redistributed I don’t know, but looking at the list of public bodies supplementing their incomes by selling personal contact details, I’m afraid nothing would surprise me. Most recent things I’ve seen is that council’s are selling off details of local people for £5 a shot …

Now you’re beginning to worry me.
I have not had any emails from them but, upon reflection, I seem to remember that I filled in a form when they first started the system, and posted it. Years ago.
The date on your example is May this year. Do you subscribe to the service? It would surprise me in view of your comments.
By “subscription” I presume they are not charging you? But they have to get an income from somewhere, don’t they? Which means…

This has started to interest me. I’ll come back if I find anything of interest.
Many thanks for the info.

I have a company number on TPS , which prevents a lot of UK calls … trick is then to block International calls. ;D

Number isn’t really used much, main number is 0845 and comes in via Asterisk.

Put the number on 10 years ago, gets renewed as a matter of course, can’t see any reason to remove now it’s there…

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 2

It seems that I have led a very sheltered life, and been lucky - possibly because, being of a somewhat bolshie disposition, I object when suppliers demand unnecessary, personal information. And I tend to order stuff by 'phone after finding it on-line. Perhaps this is the secret.
Anyway; all these posts have peeked my curiosity and I have been doing a bit digging (is that sad, or what?) and have discovered that the Mad Penguin’s cynicism is warranted. Here are my results:

Quoted from: Telephone Preference Service - Wikipedia
“The [TPS] service is paid for by the direct marketing industry. There is a similar service for corporate users, the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS).”
“….a survey by Which? found that people registered on the TPS list received twice as many marketing calls as those not on the list.”
“A spokesman for the Direct Marketing Association—who run the TPS—said in July 2012 that it had received a dramatic increase in complaints from telephone subscribers cold-called by telemarketing firms, and that some firms simply chose to ignore the rules. The DMA sent between 1,000-2,000 complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office each month, yet no penalty fines had been imposed in at least 18 months.”

Quoted from: Telephone Preference Service
“Do I need to renew my subscription with the TPS?
No, the service is intended for live telephone numbers. As such, provided your telephone number remains active it will remain registered with this free service.”

Quoted from: Telephone Preference Service
“We will not contact you again in relation to your registration (unless you have number(s) registered with the Corporate TPS, where we will contact you annually by email to renew your subscription - this is still a free service).”
(Lists ~20 of many similar, unregulated services)
“TPS is the only official Opt Out service that companies are required to abide by under the UK law and that is regulated by Ofcom.”

“The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a list of consumers (including Sole Traders and Partnerships, except in Scotland) who have registered their wish not to receive unsolicited direct marketing calls.”
Cost to obtain the file - Subscriptions can be purchased on an Annual or Ad-Hoc basis. Please see our price list for more information.”

Licensee Cost Breakdown
The tables below detail the costs involved for the different types of licence available.” [Extract:]

[td]Annual (Full) Licence: £2640 [/td]

Now what company would pay ~£k in order not to be able to sell you something? And for the real worriers; grab your comfort blanket and visit these websites:

On PayPal
"Do you have a significant amount of uncompleted e-commerce sales or the online shopping cart abandonments?”

On Sharing your personal information
"Nearly every privacy policy document of each organisation starts with the solemn words “We value your privacy”. Unfortunately, often the value is measured in dollars that the organisation can make out of the possession and usage of your personal information.”

As a result of contributors’ posts to this topic, I am becoming paranoid about privacy. Thanks a lot! :wink:

The old saying went “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you”, or sommat like that …

New saying “no point in being paranoid, they already have you”.

I am now getting insurance companies calling me for “Mrs Hardwicke” and leaving me messages about supposed insurance claims I have made online. I am fuming. I am reporting this to the fraud squad as I am both angry and worried that my number is being used to claim insurance by somebody.

Does the caller identify the company and give his/her name? If so, then I suggest looking up the company’s contact details (to check that it is real) and writing to them with all the details. A good point is always to get a reference number from the person you are talking to as this always helps to speed up resolution.
Copy the letter to ActionFraud and ensure that the letter says you are doing that. Stating all the facts as you know them and making it very plain that you are taking positive action with the authorities always makes a useful impression. I take it that you don’t have any insurance policies with the company?
Sadly, I hear on Radio 4 that ActionFraud does not take any action on an issue until they have received a thousand or so complaints. But don’t let that stop you from complaining. I do.

Good luck