How to stop cold calls – your rights

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If you’re being plagued by cold calls, what can you do to stop nuisance them? There are steps you can take. Read on to find out more.

What can you do to stop cold calls?

Companies cannot now make cold calls about PPI claims or personal injury – calls implying you’re due a large payout for a car accident you may have had. That was outlawed on September 8th 2018. The only way a PPI claims company or personal accident company can call you is if you’ve opted in to receive these calls (why would you?!). If a company calls you and you’ve not given your permission for them to do so, they could be fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office for up to £500,000.

WATCH OUT:  Companies have to display their phone number when they cold call people. However, I’ve had cold calls from companies that have displayed a false number and given a false company name.

Cold calls that aren’t related to PPI to personal injury claims aren’t outlawed. However, there are still things you can do to reduce the number of cold calls you get.

Sign up to the Telephone Preference Service

You can sign up to the Telephone Preference Service, which lets you opt out of receiving cold calls. But you won’t be cold-call free. In fact, the consumer group Which? found that those who registered with TPS received twice as many as those who didn’t.

SAVVY TIP: It takes 28 days for registration with the TPS to kick in, and UK companies and overseas call centres acting on behalf of UK-based firms aren’t meant to call anyone on that list unless they have their consent.

I registered with the TPS some time ago and I don’t get the home improvement/double glazing calls I used to, but I do still get some nuisance calls.

SAVVY TIP: If you get unwanted calls after you’ve signed up to the Telephone Preference Service, complain to the TPS and it should investigate. You can also tell the Information Commissioner about the unwanted calls.

Be aware that even if you complain to the TPS, it may not help. I had several cold calls a few months ago. I got the companies’ names and the phone number they were supposedly calling from, and reported it to the TPS. After a week or so they emailed me to say that they couldn’t trace the companies through the names I’d given and the phone numbers weren’t genuine ones. Grr.

Cold call companies must display their number

If a company cold calls you, it must display its number.  They aren’t able to withhold their number. This was introduced in April 2016. It applies even if the call centre is based overseas.

This should mean it’s easier to report a company that’s cold calling you, as you will be able to pass their number onto the Information Commissioner. However – as I mentioned above – it won’t help if the company ‘spoofs’ the number so you’re not given the genuine number it’s called from.

Don’t give permission to call

Since the GDPR rules were introduced in May 2018, companies should only contact you when they have your express permission to do so. However, those that don’t want to abide by the law may well ignore this. Companies should spell out exactly how they may get in touch with you. If they don’t, you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office

SAVVY TIP: You can ask companies to supply a copy of information that they hold about you. It’s called a ‘subject access request’ and it means the company has to give you copies of paper or computer based records they hold.. Find out how to request your personal data on the Information Commissioner’s website.

Use call blocking technology

Some phone providers will block calls from certain numbers or you may be able to get caller display. If that’s not an option, you can buy a call blocking system, such as True Call, which costs from around £100. There are different versions, so you can let only selected callers through or let anyone ring you who identifies themselves first.

SAVVY TIP: I’ve not used TrueCall and I’m certainly not being paid to endorse them, but they are being used in a government pilot to help vulnerable older people who are being plagued by nuisance calls. I’m assuming the government wouldn’t pay for the technology if it didn’t think it would work.

Call Guardian works in a similar way and costs around £50 and BT has a handset (called BT6500) which BT and non-BT customers can buy.

Fight back

If you want to do more than block unwanted calls, you could get cold callers to pay for your time. One man — Richard Herman — has set up a website called saynottocoldcalls.com which includes a (free) step-by-step guide on how to get cold callers to pay up if they call you after they’ve promised not to.

He recommends recording calls and keeping the cold callers on the line long enough to establish the name of the UK company they’re calling from or representing.

Tell them clearly that you will charge them if they contact you again and how much (Richard went for a rate of £10 a minute). If they call you again, record the call, and sue them in the small claims court.

Useful links:

The Information Commissioner’s Office is the place to complain to if you think your data has been passed on without your permission. It has a section called Sick of Nuisance Calls? where you can find out what you can do if you’ve been bothered by cold callers.

You can find out more about action on nuisance calls on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

Related articles:

How to stop spam texts and unwanted SMS messages

How to stop junk mail

How to get your money back if you’ve signed up for a ‘free’ trial

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