We’ve all experienced some variation of the following scenario:
We’re juggling cooking, or rushing to catch the bus, or simply expecting an important phone call. We hear our phone ringing and rush to turn the stove down, fumble in our bag and bump into someone, or see a number flash on your screen that could be that dream job. We answer the call…
…And it’s an automated message. Or we’re being sold PPI. Or it’s some poor soul unwillingly carrying out the dirty work of a company with a debatable ethos making telemarketing calls to strangers.
We don’t want these phone calls. They can feel invasive, a bold intrusion on our privacy. So, hold the line, because we’re here to help you get in the know about stopping those nuisance callers.
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is one of the best ways to stop nuisance calls. As a warning, TPS is a free service, so if you are ever asked to make a payment you should not engage as this would signify a scam.
All you need to do is sign up to TPS and then, quite simply, it is illegal for companies to call you. Sounds perfectly efficient, right? Well, unfortunately not all companies will obey these laws. While TPS registration might stop telemarketing communications from some of the big players, there are several companies that will outright ignore these rules. Still, it’s good legal leverage.
Our mobile phones allow us to block numbers from our call log. Yet, with respect to nuisance numbers, it’s somewhat inconveniently a process we can do once we’ve received the call, not before. We can’t predict which of the millions of phone numbers will appear on our caller ID next, so unfortunately we can only be reactive this way. Plus, even if we do block the number, then there’s another right behind it.
But there are several apps you can download that will block those callers. Some great (and free) ones are Hiya and Truecaller, which use crowd-sourced blacklists – the community comes together to report spam and scams. We also like Trapcall, as this also reveals the number of an unknown caller. Many public institutions such as hospitals will block their numbers for protection, so this may be a good app for filtering out the legitimate from the dodgy.
Whilst many of us now operate solely from our mobiles, there are still plenty of active landlines out there, particularly in households of older generations. They are also often an important security and safety feature for more vulnerable members of our society and people can be put in precarious positions by trying to answer a phone typically reserved for important calls. Nuisance phone calls are not only invasive and manipulative, they can be harmful.
Providers like BT will offer a screening service as part of their package. This will mean that a caller will have to state where they’re from in a recording before contact is made with the recipient, so the homeowner can decide whether they want to accept the call, or whether they even know the person. And with more convincing scams being exposed by the day, it could be worth investing in this buffer.
We know these calls are infuriating, but often the persistence comes from higher managerial orders rather than from the caller themselves. Always start by asking the caller to take you off their list as you don’t wish to be contacted again. Lay down the line politely and facilitate a civil exchange. If they continue to call you then there are procedures where you can report them to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Do be mindful though – in many cases these companies get our numbers from us ticking terms and conditions boxes whereby we agree for our contact details to be passed on to third parties. So, by extension, we’ve actually given them the initial permission to call us. Remember – polite but firm.
If you think it’s a scam – report it immediately.
Take a record of the number if you can. If it’s a withheld number then you can contact your network provider and ask them for details of the phone call.
You can stop automated messages by calling the ICO.