Nuisance calls and texts: we’re dialling up the pressure

by , Executive Director Consumer Rights 17 April 2013
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I’ve just come out of a meeting with regulators, industry and government reps to discuss nuisance calls and texts – and I took you all with me. It was my chance to urge them all to take action.

Dialling on smartphone

Following on from the launch of our campaign, Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts, we’ve been taking note of the hundreds of comments you’ve left here on Which? Conversation.

It’s our second most popular post Conversation and more than 24,000 of you have voted saying you’re fed up with nuisance calls and texts.

Representing your views on nuisance calls and texts

So at today’s meeting, hosted by Ed Vaizey MP, I spoke on your behalf. Most in the meeting were all too familiar with the problem. As so many of you have made clear, unsolicited calls are more than just a nuisance – they’re also stopping you from from receiving calls about work, your family and even hospital appointments. So many of your comments reflect the seriousness of this problem, such as Caroline’s:

‘I have been off work for two weeks due to [the] fact that my father died and my mother is seriously ill. Every day I receive cold calls regarding PPI despite being ex-directory. This is very distressing. I dive to my phone every time it rings in case it is my mother needing help. I find it disgraceful that these people feel that they have the right to bombard me with calls everyday.’

And Chloe’s:

‘I’ve reached screaming point over automated phone calls. I am self employed and must answer the phone. Often there’s nobody on the line when I’ve run the length of my cottage and hurdled over the cats to pick up.’

Then there’s David’s views on the regulators:

‘The regulatory system does not work. ICO, Ofcom and TPS just play pass the parcel according to the type of call – what sensible person would think that voice, silent, or automated calls should be dealt with in three different ways?’

Two months to go…

You may remember that to launch our campaign, we asked the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Ofcom, the Ministry of Justice and the Office of Fair Trading to set up a joint taskforce within three months to crackdown on nuisance calls and texts.

One month has already passed. Some of the regulators have publicly said that they’re investigating complaints and are serious in taking action against companies that break rules. But we still believe we need a joint taskforce that starts by focusing on targeting PPI and personal injury nuisance calls and texts. According to what you’ve told us, these are the industries you’re most likely to be bothered by, and we think this could be the key to getting action, now.

I urged the regulators to use the powers available to them. For example, the ICO has the power to investigate where nuisance callers get your details from. It’s also very complicated to complain about nuisance calls and texts, so the regulators agreed that they will work with us at Which? to make it easier to complain or register your number to block cold calls.

So, two months to go until our deadline. I’ll keep putting pressure on the regulators and sharing your comments with them. Then it’s over to you. You will be the ones to decide whether you think the regulators’ action has been good enough. In the meantime, keep in touch. Your experiences are key to us hanging up on nuisance calls and texts once and for all.

Are you fed up with nuisance calls and texts?

Yes (100%, 30,130 Votes)

No (0%, 91 Votes)

Total Voters: 30,221

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66 comments

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silversurfer1947

It seems pretty obvious that all the regulators are ni more than toothless tigers. I reckon I must get 4 or 5 nuisance calls a week. I try to report them, but get shunted around the web as it is difficult to work out which regulator to report them to.

Also, I have noticed an increasing use of false telephone numbers being displayed, presumably to stop them being traced by the regulators. The moment you ask them to confirm the number they hang up. My phone will block up to 30 numbers, but I keep having to delete the old ones.

Unless they are from criminal organisations,it strikes me that even the international calls (mainly from India) must stem from British companies. Why can not the Government simply make the practice illegal, with a prison senetnce for the MD of any company that breaches the rules?

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william

@Richard, Hi, looks like they now have less than a month to go, any sign of any action yet?

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Martin

I get three or four a day from international number withheld and the few times I inadvertently answer it is always to an Indian accent. Some of the time they say they are from onlinepccare (which is a lie) or from a bank wanting to give me a refund for some specious reason (also a lie), or say that they are Microsoft as my computer is in trouble also untrue). I have tried to reason with them, leave them hanging on to the telephone and listening to Radio 4, shouting abuse but NOTHING seems to deter them. I am very grateful to WHICH for trying to do something about this. Luckily I do not suffer from the PPI or accident people – yet.

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John Kirkman

Still get 6,7 or 8 calls per day from India,some u.k. And some that I have no idea.BT,TPS OFCOM,etc should be given power to sort this all out.Totally ridiculous that we still have to put up with this!!!!!!!!!!

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Lyn

Having moved house 2.5 years ago and fed up with Sky thought I would try BT vision package, phone, TV and broadband…. BT gave me a telephone number which had been used before even though I had requested an exdirectory number. Since then the nuisance calls have been around 6 per day all asking for the person by name. Obviously the people that had the number before me ran a business from this number. I contacted BT and all they could offer was another used number which could have been worse or at least just as bad. Having informed everyone including my work of the new number and email address I was looking at some very expensive changes. Don’t rely on BT, I now have a problem with my email and three weeks later they are still looking into it…..

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william

@richard, Isn’t time up now ? Have they actually done anything yet ?

Hello everyone, thanks for all your comments. We’ve just launched a complaints tool which will talk you through the process of making an official complaint about nuisance calls and texts, pointing you towards the right regulator.

If more of us complain, not only will the regulators have the information they need to take action, it will send a clear message that more needs to be done to stop this menace. Give it a go: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/

You can also join our latest debate about nuisance calls and find out how the government is actually starting to listen to our calls, and may soon change the rules, here: http://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/complain-nuisance-calls-texts-complaints-ofcom-ico-tps/

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william

Is there any point in reporting a silent call with no return number ? As there is precious little in the way of useful information that can be reported.

Please advise.

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william

My mum had 6 silent calls with no return number yesterday, and has already had one this morning.

And one Microsoft scam call, they really don’t like it when you don’t have a computer, poor mum.

Can’t someone scrap the current regulators and put me in charge for 15 mins, that’s all it would take, and I’d have about 10 mins spare. Although the phone companies won’t be happy with me.

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SheilaMac

I get spam texts most days. have had over 100 this summer. Usually 2 to 5 per day.
99% are from payday loans companies. I have never had, wanted nor even considered a payday loan and would never never apply for one.
PPI is a very minor problem compared with payday loans in my experience.
I report these to my service provider (Orange/EE) but I still keep getting them.
I have provided COI with their website addresses but they are still up there and keep adding new ones with similar names.
I travel a lot and have to PAY to receive texts abroad. This enrages me even more so when I get the texts very late (worst 1150pm) or early (worst 5am) when I am asleep. The phone is always on because I need to know about travel arrangement changes and for other emergency contacts
I really do not want to change my phone number for a number of genuine and logical reasons but I am at the end of my tether on this.

[This comment has been edited for breaking our guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

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David

Very early this morning I was woken by a caller who asked for my parner (who’s away). On relaying this, the caller just hung up without another word. So incensed was I by this rudeness, I dialled 1471 and was given the number 02033181988. I dialed this and got a recorded message saying that this number has been cancelled.
It occurs to me that there must be rolling number generators that expire when the caller hangs up. Someone must be making this dastardly equipment so could not the government tackle the manufacturers? Aiding and abetting fraud perhaps? Same with the gadgets that ‘view’ your card/pin numbers at cash machines that fraudsters use.

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william

@David, Its called spoofing ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caller_ID_spoofing ) and is a tactic used by many many nuisance phone call/text pests.

I’m not sure what if anything the regulators or phone providers are doing to combat this :(

I suspect nothing.

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DavidF

Yes, I agree: nuisance calls are, er, a nuisance; and the regulators are useless. But the solution is simple: never, ever, buy anything from any company that contacts you via an unsolicited phone call or text. If everyone adopted this policy, these companies would rapidly discover that junk calls waste their time as well as ours, and would find some other way to do business.

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dorothy

Due to your hard work, the PPI calls have stopped but now we are getting Green boiler – free calls from ‘International number’ using an English recorded voice. “This is an urgent message, Our records show you are eligible for a free boiler…” I am getting several calls a week and sometimes two a day. If I do not answer the phone I can expect to hear from them within half an hour.
This situation is going to get worse for those of us refusing to pay extra for caller display.
I have even had messages left on 1571 (which is now going to be charge at £1.75 per month from Jan.

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