We’ve all been there – an unrecognised number flashes up on your phone and it’s just an automated voice.
This is known as cold calling and it’s when you receive an uninvited call that attempts to sell you something.
A company called Keurboom did just that and received a record fine of £400,000 for making nearly 100 million nuisance calls.
Here are some top tips on how to stop yourself from falling victim to those annoying calls.
You may think that cold calling is just a part of life you have to put up with but it’s actually against the law.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined Keurboom because they called people without their consent, breaking privacy laws.
The ICO received over 1000 complaints from some people who were called repeatedly, late at night.
They were fined because it’s illegal to make automated calls or send texts without your permission.
Register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)
This is really easy – you can register landline or mobile numbers for free online or by calling 0845 070 0707.
It takes up to 28 days to come into effect but then companies aren’t allowed to phone you for marketing reasons unless you’ve given them express permission before or after signing up (although beware – you may not know you’ve done this, so see the section below).
If you have given a company permission by accident or you’ve changed your mind, just contact them directly and ask them to stop. BY law they have to.
Other companies offer a similar service to the TPS but they may charge you for it and telemarketers only have to check the TPS register.
Unfortunately, dodgy companies may still carry on bothering you even if you’re on the list, so that’s where some of the other tips come in.
Tick the right boxes
You know those little boxes you’re asked to tick (or not to tick) when you’re buying online or signing up to something?
Pay attention to them!
Sometimes ticking means the firm CAN share your details with other companies for marketing purposes.
Sometimes it means they CAN’T share your details.
And sometimes when you’re asked to tick two different boxes on the same page – one box is a “can” tick but the other is a “can’t”.
This is often how telemarketers get your numbers so, basically, make sure you read the small print so you don’t get caught out.
Don’t automatically reply to marketing texts
If a message is from a company you trust or from a five digit number, replying ‘STOP’ should do the job and you shouldn’t be charged.
But if it’s from anyone else it’s probably best to ignore it.
Replying will just confirm your number is a valid one and you may start seeing a lot more communications from them.
Instead, report the message to your network operator by forwarding the message to 7726 (it spells SPAM on the keypad – clever huh?)
Keep your number private
BT has a directory service which lets you find telephone numbers and addresses over the phone, online, or in the good old-fashioned phone book.
But if you don’t want your details to show up, you do have the option to sign up to the Ex-Directory scheme.
You can also opt out of the electoral role’s “edited register” when you sign up to vote.
If you don’t your contact details could be sold to marketing companies.
Block the call
You can always report phone numbers to your network operator and find out what services they offer in terms of blocking calls (although they may charge for it).
Otherwise, you could buy yourself a call blocker app to use with your phone.
Or better still, you may already have one as part of your mobile deal.
If nothing else is working, think about complaining to the company and asking them to stop. This could be the most simple solution.
The caller has to give you the organisation’s name, address or a free phone number if you ask for it so that you can get in touch.
You can also complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office and the regulator may decide to take action against the company.
If you do that, it could be handy to make a note of the time and date of the call, the phone number (if you have it) and the company’s name – but it’s not essential.
If all else fails… just ignore them. Screen your calls and only answer those from numbers you know.
You may miss some calls and it won’t stop the phone from ringing – but it will guarantee you won’t have to hear any more sales pitches on the phone.