Preventing Nuisance Calls
Research recently published by consumer group Which? has once again highlighted the very real issue of nuisance calls. All too often, for older and more vulnerable people, nuisance calls can be more than a nuisance – they can be intimidating and upsetting.
Which? and trueCall tracked over seven million calls made over a three-year period. Analysis showed that four in ten calls were nuisance calls. And, worryingly, older customers received 46% more nuisance calls a month than younger customers.
We look at what you can do to deal with the problem.
Subscribe to the Telephone Preference Service
Sign up to this free service to prevent direct marketing calls from any legitimate UK company (www. www.tpsonline.org.uk). It is the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
It is a legal requirement that all organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so.
Organisations with which you have an ongoing relationship, for example those who regard you as a customer, (or in the case of charities – a donor) may well gather your consent during the early stages of your relationship with them and will therefore be entitled to call you even if your number is registered on TPS, unless you have previously told them specifically that you object to them calling you for marketing purposes.
The TPS can also accept the registration of mobile telephone numbers, however it is important to note that this will prevent the receipt of marketing voice calls but not SMS (text) messages. If you wish to stop receiving SMS marketing messages, please send an ‘opt-out’ request to the company involved.
Visit the website or call 0845 070 0707.
Note – there are a number of organisations that call people claiming to be the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and try to charge consumers for registration. It is free to sign up to the TPS register. The TPS will never contact customers requesting payments or credit card details. Once an individual’s number is on the TPS, it will remain on it and there is no need to update your registration.
If you suspect that you have been contacted by a fraudulent organisation, then you can contact Action Fraud to report your concerns on www.actionfraud.police.uk
Know Your Rights
Recorded messages Organisations that use recorded phone messages to try and sell or promote their products or services must comply with the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. These say they must obtain prior consent from the subscriber before they can make such a call. If you have not given prior permission and can identify the organisation leaving the message you can complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office (030 3123 1113).
If you receive a nuisance call, the easiest approach is often to simply put the phone down and end the call. If you do choose to talk to the caller, they must give you the name of the organisation and, if you ask for it, its address or a free telephone number. You can use this information to notify the organisation that you no longer wish to receive sales calls.
Be Careful About Who You Give Your Contact Details To
Look carefully at the marketing “opt-in” or “opt-out box” when signing up with new companies or for services.
When you need to provide contact details, for example when you buy something, enter a competition, or use a price comparison website, make sure you look carefully at the marketing “opt-in” or “opt-out” boxes. Sometimes these boxes can be buried in the small print and are often found near the part where a signature is required. An “opt-in” box generally refers to a box which, if ticked, confirms that you are agreeing to be contacted by the company or other companies (known as “third parties” or “trusted parties”). With an “opt-out” box you are agreeing to be contacted, unless you tick the box. Look out for phrases such as “tick here to opt-out” or, if you’re online, pop up boxes inviting you to receive a company’s newsletter.
You should also be cautious about giving personal details when you answer the phone, particularly if the caller asks you to carry out an action which might have financial consequences. Avoid answering the phone by saying your telephone number and name as a greeting and avoid including these details on your answerphone or voicemail.
Before you start a conversation, make sure the caller gives you their details first. This will help you to check that they’re calling from a credible place (for example, from your electricity supplier).
Be aware that sometimes the caller may not give you the correct detail such as the correct “Caller ID” or “Calling Line Identity” (CLI).
If someone rings you asking for personal financial information, don’t provide it. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government department’s website to check whether the call was genuine. Wait at least five minutes before making the call – this ensures the line has cleared and you’re not still speaking to the fraudster or an accomplice
Become Ex Directory
Some companies buy access to the phone book. Becoming ex directory can limit the number of nuisance calls.
Call Blocking Phones and Devices
Several phone manufacturers, including BT, make telephone units which include additional call screening and blocking features. These phones which let calls from your friends and family straight through, block unwelcome callers and ask unrecognised callers to identify themselves before it puts them through.
An alternative to the call-blocking phones are Call Blocker units, which plug into your existing phone handset and attempt to screen out calls. They cost approximately £50.
Information Commissioners Office www.ico.org.uk
British Telecom www.BT.com
Telephone Preference Service www.tpsonline.org.uk
Police – Action Fraud www.actionfraud.police.uk