Could a text message stop nuisance calls?

Holly Thomas / 15 June 2016

Plagued by telephone calls about PPI and personal injury claims? It's now possible to use a text message to register for the telephone preference service (TPS) to stop receiving nuisance calls.



Long suffering victims of nuisance marketing phone calls will breathe a sigh of relief to know they can now send a quick text message to join the official “do not call” database.

A YouGov survey found that 81% of British people frequently receive unwanted calls, with a quarter receiving more than 10 a week. 

Retired people are frequently plagued by such calls, particularly if they are at home a lot in the daytime. Calls from sales people flogging supposed good deals and third party claims companies trying to convince you to take legal action against any Tom, Dick or Harry can disturb an otherwise peaceful day.

How to avoid getting caught out by a phone scam.

Protection from nuisance calls

The telephone preference service (TPS) holds a list of member numbers that are protected from nuisance calls. It is illegal for organisations to make unsolicited sales and marketing calls to numbers registered with the TPS, unless they have a person’s consent to do so.

Previously, those plagued with lots of unsolicited calls could register your number over the phone (by calling 0845 070 0707), or signing up on the website (tpsonline.org.uk). Now you can take advantage of its new text service.

Text ‘TPS’ and your email address to 78070. You will receive a text reply from the TPS confirming your number has been successfully added to its database.

Read our guide to stopping spam text messages.

Stamping out rogue calls

John Mitchison, head of the TPS, said: “Rogue callers operate illegally and against the interests of ordinary people.

“Texting will make it easier for people to register their mobile numbers on the TPS, which is the only official no-call list, and help us stamp out rogue callers once and for all by giving the Information Commissioner more ammunition to prosecute these cases.”

While registrations take 28 days to come into effect fully, you should see a gradual reduction in calls. However, it won’t stop all unwanted calls, so make sure you ask any other companies that make unsolicited calls to take you off their list.

Beware the Microsoft phone scam.

Block calls to your mobile too

The service works for landline and mobile phone sales lists so don’t forget to register all household numbers. According to Ofcom research, only half of people familiar with the TPS are aware that mobile numbers can be registered, compared to almost nine in 10 for landline phone numbers.

The text-to-register service is not free for all mobile customers. For most users, the text should be included within their bundle. However, some users may be charged a standard message rate by their operator, depending on their contract. But it’s a small price to pay for peace.

A study commissioned by Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office found people registered with the TPS saw a reduction in the monthly volume of live sales or marketing calls received of around a third (31%). Registering with the TPS, however, does not prevent spam text messages.

How to beat nuisance phone callers.

How to tackle nuisance calls

1. Be careful who you give your contact details to, whether it's online, on the phone, or in person.

2. Look for marketing ‘opt-in' and ‘opt-out' boxes when shopping online. These boxes are often buried in the small print.

3. Ask your phone provider to see what privacy services are available, and consider a call-blocker – though be aware, you may need to pay for these services.

4. Complain about live telesales call, an automated marketing message, or a spam text message to the Information Commissioner's Office on 0303 123 1113. If you receive a silent or abandoned call, complain to Ofcom on 0300 123 3333. You can report spam texts to your mobile network operator by simply forwarding the text to 7726. 

For more tips and useful information, browse our consumer rights articles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.