A few years back, some of the biggest charitable organisations in the UK came under fire for targeting the vulnerable and elderly with their fundraising appeals – and using telephone pressure tactics to get them to hand over money.
In certain cases, individuals were phoned despite having opted out of receiving calls by signing up to the ‘no-call’ list.
What exactly is the ‘no-call’ list?
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a free service designed to block unsolicited calls, often made by telemarketing firms.
The aim of registering with this “no-call” list is to allow you to opt out so you can avoid being disturbed at home.
The problem arose when a host of charities exploited loopholes in this service, meaning people lost the protection offered by this system.
In response to this, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched an investigation, and the charities at the centre of the issue looked into claims that had been made.
So what can you do personally, if you ever find yourself on the receiving end of telephone cold callers exerting pressure tactics?
Report organisations that abuse the TPS
By law, firms should not make unsolicited sales and marketing calls to people registered with the TPS.
Charities must follow the same rules on marketing by calls or texts as any other company.
If you feel that a charity is flouting the rules – and that you are still receiving unwanted calls despite having registered with the TPS – you can make a complaint to the TPS.
The TPS cannot penalise the company responsible for repeatedly cold-calling you, but it can send complaints to the ICO which has the power to take action.
Organisations which are found to have broken the rules can face fines.
Worried that a charity collector is a fake? Read our guide to spotting the fraudsters
How should you deal with charity cold-callers?
Aside from registering with the TPS and reporting organisations that abuse the service, there are some other simple steps you can take to help you avoid being repeatedly phoned by charities and other cold callers.
Don’t give your consent to be contacted
Keep an eye out for marketing opt-outs when filling in forms. If you don’t want to give consent for your details to be passed on to third parties, don’t put a tick in the box.
Equally, if you don’t want to enter your phone number when filling in a form, you can protect your number by filling in (0333) 88 88 88 88. If a cold caller phones that number, they get a message saying “TrueCall38 is handling my calls. “I prefer not to be contacted by phone, so please contact me via my email address. Goodbye.”
For more information visit Truecall38.co.uk.
Having problems with doorstep callers? Read our tips
Block numbers that harass you
If you are being bombarded by calls from charities, you could consider blocking those numbers.
Phone providers offer a host of services that can help you block nuisance calls. While some are free, be aware that some levy a monthly charge.
Another way to block calls is by getting a blocking device fitted, such as CPR Call Blocker or TrueCall Call Blocker. These devices do come at a cost, but will enable you to screen the calls you receive.
Just hang up
If you do feel pressured by a charity – or any other company or organisation – remember you always have the option to simply hang up.
Further tips to help you deal with charity cold-callers
* Do not hand over bank details or commit to a direct debit during a phone call unless you are absolutely sure you want to do so.
* If you do want to commit to giving a regular amount to charity, do not give in to telephone pressure tactics to increase this unless you wish to do so.
* If you want to unsubscribe from any communication with a charity, remember that you can do this at any time.
More tips to beat nuisance callers
Read our tips for dealing with a pushy salesperson