We’re all too familiar with the scenario – just as you’re sitting down to dinner, the phone rings. You rush to pick it up, only to discover it’s someone trying to persuade you to claim compensation or buy double-glazing. Here's how to stop nuisance calls.
Register with the TPS
The first step should be to register your phone number (home or mobile) with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). It’s free and, once your number is registered, it’s illegal for any organisation to call you, unless you’ve previously given them permission. Obviously, this only works with reputable companies who abide by the law and check against the ‘do not call’ register.
Some companies try to get round the rules by saying the call is for market-research purposes (which isn’t covered by the law). But if someone rings asking you to help with a survey and then tries to sell you something they are breaking the law.
To register, call 0845 070 0707 or visit www.tpsonline.org.uk.
What else can I do?
- Just say no
When signing up to a new service or buying a product, tell the company not to call you. If you complete a form, read the marketing ‘opt out/opt in’ clauses carefully to see if ticking or unticking them will prevent calls. Any company you already receive unwanted sales calls from, simply ask to be removed from their list.
- Screen calls
Consider investing in a phone with a caller display and then only answer calls from numbers you recognise. Or buy an answerphone – legitimate callers are likely to leave a message.
- Go ex-directory
Some companies, particularly local businesses, may use online or printed phone books to find numbers to target. To be excluded from directories, call BT on 0800 800 150.
- Set up call barring
Many cold calls and scams originate abroad so, unless you have friends or relatives overseas, ask your provider to block all international calls and withheld numbers. This typically costs around £3 per month.
When no-one’s there
So-called ‘silent calls’ can be worrying but, in the majority of cases, they’re not malicious. Usually they’re the result of companies using automated dialling systems which call several numbers at once; the calls connect when answered but if all the agents are busy there will be silence. Ofcom guidelines state that call centres using these systems should play an information message.
Report silent calls to your phone provider or Ofcom (0300 123 3000), which is reponsible for tackling nuisance calls.
Let technology help
If nuisance calls are a particular problem, consider buying a trueCall system which simply plugs in and checks every call before your phone even rings. Calls from friends and family come straight through but those from unwanted callers are blocked with a message telling them not to call again. Nuisance calls can be especially difficult for dementia sufferers, and trueCall has a version designed to meet their needs.
Again, calls from recognised numbers are put straight through but all other callers get a message – for example, ‘Mary is only accepting calls from friends and family. If your call is important please call her son, Bob, on 07711 123456’.
For more information call 0800 0336 339 or visit www.truecall.co.uk
How to handle a cold caller
- Stay calm – don’t let the caller intimidate or pressurise you with ‘one-day-only’ offers.
- State clearly that you’re not interested. Never reveal your name, address or financial details over the phone. If it’s a legitimate call from a company you’re interested in, or already a customer of, you can always ask that they send you the relevant details in writing.
- Ask politely but firmly to be removed from the company’s call list, then hang up.
- If you believe a caller is breaking the rules, try to get the phone number and company name so you can report them. If they won’t give you the number and you don’t have caller display, dial 1471 to check the number. If the number is unavailable (or withheld) make a note of the time of the call because your telephone provider may be able to trace the source of the call for you.
- For more money-saving tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine.