Persistent calls promising you compensation for payment protection insurance or some accident you’ve apparently had plague many of our lives. A YouGov survey found that 81% of British people frequently receive unwanted calls, with a quarter receiving more than 10 a week.
At worst they can leave elderly and vulnerable householders anxious and too scared to pick up the phone, or at least make people think twice
However, there are steps you can take to stop what the government calls the “modern-day menace”.
Worried about doorstep callers? Read our guide to protecting yourself from bogus callers.
Contact your landline provider
Your provider may have several suggestions on how to stop calls, and even a dedicated team to help - so give them a call to discuss. Two popular options include:
Call blockers: These are devices that you attach to your phone, costing from around £30 upwards, or are already part of particular handsets. They may ask the caller to give their name, for example, before putting them through.
Phone services: Plenty of handsets offer ‘caller display’, so you can see what number is calling before picking up. This can help you decide whether to pick up or call the number back later.
For a list of various provider services see Ofcom. However, make sure that by installing any device or service you don’t block calls you want to receive.
Telephone preference service
If you get lots of unsolicited calls, register your number with the telephone preference service (TPS). It’s free and your details are put on a list, meaning particular companies are not allowed to call. Sign up by calling 0845 070 0707, or go to its website at tpsonline.org.uk.
However, registrations take 28 days to come into effect. While it won’t stop all unwanted calls, ask any other companies that make unsolicited calls to take you off their list.
Plagued by spam texts? Read our tips to stop them.
Tips for managing nuisance calls
If you receive an unsolicited call, here are some steps to take to safeguard your personal details and ensure you don’t pick up to the caller again:
Screen the call – If you have a phone with ‘caller display’ you’ll see if the number is one you recognise. This will help decide whether to answer the call or call them back.
Ask for the caller’s details – Of course, you could simply hang up. Alternatively, ask for the company name and address. You can use this to report them and/or notify the company that you no longer want to receive calls.
Don’t give out personal details – So don’t include your name and telephone number as a greeting, whether it’s when you answer the phone or on voicemail. Always get the caller's details to check they’re calling from a company you know and you’re happy to take the call.
Whatever you do, don’t give out financial information or account details over the phone. If you recognise the company, you can always call back later on the phone number listed on a letter, statement or official website.
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Make a complaint
You can complain about a particular company or number to several organisations, including your phone operator, TPS, or the Information Commissioner’s Office. The ICO has the power to fine companies up to £500,000 for making unsolicited calls and sending texts.
If you can, make a note of the date, time, name of the firm and number you were called from. See Ofcom for more information.