I had a very interesting conversation with Dilip Patel, who runs London Superstore at Millbank, behind the Tate Gallery. In the middle of the night he and his wife keep getting pestering calls from a call centre apparently based in the Punjab on behalf of Global Telecommunications. “They offer cheap phone-call rates, 2p per minute to India and to America,” says Dilip. However, he resisted the offer to pass on his Visa card details and dialled 1471 afterwards to see if he could get a number. It came up as 00000 920220 (the proper code for India is 0091).

When he told BT about this, it said it was unable to trace the call and that nothing could be done to stop this kind of cold-calling, as it was coming from a foreign country. Because of his location, Dilip sees a lot of government ministers and he has bounced this tale off a number of them so far. They say the same thing. They know it goes on but are powerless to prevent it.

Now Dilip has had one of those horrible middle-of-the-night moments. “The other day I rang up to renew my insurance and, surprise surprise, my call went through to a call centre in India. So now I’m really kicking myself that I handed over my Barclaycard number.”

He believes that some call centres in India are selling their contact lists. “How else would they get my number?” he asks. “This could be a dangerous game. Business is quiet at the moment and people are looking for bargains, so other retailers might well fall for this. It’s very important that you warn all your readers to be very wary of offers from India – and tell them that I am Indian!”

When you think about it, India is known to be very good at two things at least: call centre services and technology. If you put the two together and into the wrong hands the results could prove extremely expensive for victims.

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