What can you do to stop nuisance calls and cold callers?


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

What can you do to stop nuisance calls and cold calls?

It may be hard to eliminate cold calls entirely, but there are things you can do to reduce the chances of being bombarded by dodgy salesmen or PPI claims companies. The government has launched a consultation into letting the Information Commissioner impose fines on company bosses and not just on the businesses themselves. This is something the government promised to do two years ago and it was due to be in place a year ago. Today (May 30th) the consultation launches, but a change in the law could still be some way away. In the meantime, there are things you can do to reduce the chance of being plagued by cold calls.

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 PPI compensation calls and automated calls telling me I’ve won a prize in a competition I’ve never entered.

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 found out – 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

Watch out when you’re buying products or services so you don’t end up giving permission for companies to call you without you realising it. You may be asked to sign a form (in paper or online) where you have to tick a box to say you don’t want to be contacted, or, if you’re buying over the phone, you may be played a — lengthy – phone message where you have to tell the call handler you don’t want to be contacted.

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. It can cost up to £10 for this data. 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 read a blog about the cold call crackdown on the ICO 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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