/ Technology

We’re calling time on nuisance calls and texts

Phone being hit by hammer

‘I hate it and feel powerless.’ Which? Conversation commenter Matt Petre summed up many of your feelings on nuisance calls. We’re calling on regulators to work together to police and punish those responsible.

It’s clear that nuisance calls and texts have become a daily problem for many of you. They not only cause frustration, but they can even be distressing and intimidating.

There have been 1,600 comments made about nuisance calls and texts here on Which? Conversation and many of them have had the same theme – ‘why isn’t something being done?’. Our research also found that in the last three months, seven in 10 people have received unsolicited calls and four in 10 an unwanted text.

The government, various regulators and business leaders have told us that they get that this is a problem. The Information Commissioner has recently fined some companies. But I really think we’ve waited long enough for a proper crackdown that cuts the problem off at source. Which? wants to see some action and I know many of you agree.

A joint taskforce to stop nuisance calls

So we’ve launched a campaign to call time on nuisance calls and texts. We have called on the four regulators who have the responsibility of helping protect you from unwanted calls and texts (the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Ministry of Justice, Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading) to set up a joint taskforce to take action on this nuisance.

We want this taskforce to start by focusing on the Personal Injury and Payment Protection Insurance industries, which is one of the main problem areas you have told us about. Our latest investigation has revealed that after making a claim to their car insurance companies, one in four Which? members were bombarded with calls or texts from claims management companies. So it’s definitely a good place to start.

We think it’s time for the regulators to go into the offices of the companies that are making these calls, or benefiting from them. We want this taskforce to get to the bottom of why so many of you are getting calls and texts you don’t want. We want to know if rules are being broken and if they are, there must be quick and effective punishment. If the taskforce finds evidence of rule breaking, we want heavy fines and licences suspended.

And one other thing. We want to see results in 12 weeks time. If the regulators are unwilling or unable to take this action then Which? will call on the government to step in.

Cutting off nuisance phone calls and texts

Cutting down on nuisance calls and texts may be complicated and there may need to be changes to the regulatory system or even new laws. But Which? has listened to you and we know that many of you want to see action – now. So our message to them is, ‘do what you can and do it now’, and then tell us what needs to change.

We will let you know more about our campaign over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, we want to hear about your experiences. Are you fed up with nuisance calls and texts? Then tell us.

Are you fed up with nuisance calls and texts?

Yes (100%, 30,130 Votes)

No (0%, 91 Votes)

Total Voters: 30,221

Loading ... Loading ...

I have been registered with TPS for years and it works very well. I still get calls from overseas-based companies but TPS cannot help here.

What particularly annoys me is the number of calls I receive from market research companies. These are legal but I don’t want to receive them. Why can’t I opt-out of receiving these calls? They are nuisance calls to me and no doubt others will share my view.

Petr says:
19 March 2013

I have registered with TPS as well and it worked well for years. Since 3 month ago I started getting calls from market research companies. When I asked them where they got my number form the reply shocked me – from TPS database!

Thanks Petr. I wonder how many other companies are doing the same.

I keep saying that market research calls should be controlled – and here is one more reason.

Market Research calls (currently allowed under the rules) are a mechanism for the following scam : 1) a “market research” company rings you to survey, say, insulation in your house. 2) one of the questions could be “would you be interested in hearing how you can cut your heating bills” … ostensibly a valid survey question. 3) next thing you know is that you get repeated calls from a double glazing firm who, when you protest that you are TPOS registered, say that you asked a survey company to contact you and therefore it is an invited call.
The only solution, unfortunately, is to make surveys also subject to TPS restrictions

I’ve experienced something similar. I once made the mistake of answering “Just a few questions for a lifestyle survey, Madam (spoken with an Indian accent). The questions were about my washing machine. What make was it and how long had I had it? Two to three weeks later I received a phone call from the manufacturers of my washing machine, saying that, as the warranty had now expired, was I sure I didn’t want to renew it – it’d be in my best interests if I did. Coincidence? I think not. Now I simply say that if they want me to complete their survey, then they’ll have to pay me because my time is too valuable to waste. And, yes, I am registered with the TPS.

Tommy Logan says:
19 March 2013

Over the past two years i have become increasingly frustrated with direct mailing and unwanted marketing call.

Direct mail is pretty straight forward, each month i collect all unwanted mail, place in a A3 envelope and post (without a stamp) to the direct marketing association. They should be requested to pay for my parcel. These morons are supposed to be regulating this service therefore only fitting they shoul pay for disposal. I encourage everyone to do the same. Strangely, the level of marketing i recieve now has reduced!

Unwanted calls are another matter and should be outlawed. I have registered with the telephone preference service but i still recieve large volumes of calls on my mobile and landline. Last week while working from home i recieved 25 calls, 3 texts and another three calls on my mobile. Unacceptable! I have also reported this back to the telephone preference service and they dont even respond.

I wish i could rip out my landline, as 90% of the calls i recieve are unwanted.

Finally i also blame the morons who buy from cold callers. Why!!!!

twh says:
19 March 2013

One lot have been phoning me several times a week for several weeks, using a taped message. It makes you dread answering the phone, and bark at genuine callers. If there were half a dozen of such determined vandals at any one time, the phone system would effectively grind to a halt. Yes I’m also in TPS.

Vivien says:
19 March 2013

I have the same, taped message – woman pronounces legislation ‘legg-islation.’ -which is pretty amazing in itself. If you wait till end of call to press 9 to ‘unsubscribe’ it doesn’t make any difference, still same recorded message everyday. Gahh.
There, I feel a bit better now.

I am the unhappy receiver of up to 12 nuisance calls a day. We are registered with TPS who seem to be totally ineffective in stopping calls. We have caller display, but it is now proving difficult to distinguish between genuine and spam calls .I have an answerphone which does filter some out if I leave the phone to ring long enough. I have reported everything to ‘Who Calls Me’, and in desperation OFCOM from whom there has been no response. We have had many calls from International, and Withheld numbers but here are some of the numbers that have plagued us – 01611111111; 08443762820 (6 times yesterday); 0192328895; 07867383705; 08451113111; 01614456875. My husband has cancer and we are awaiting calls from the hospital re tests, and all these nuisance calls are not helping since I feel I have to rush to the phone in case it is important. PLEASE put all your weight behind this campaign to stop these appalling intrusions.

Buy the Tru Call machine and you will get rid of all the calls. See my post on page 29.

We are with the TPS but still get calls, so we leave our phone on answerphone – it works for us. Our family just speak and we pick up the phone. Genuine callers leave a message – and the rest can just…well you know what.Spam calls have dropped off noticeably

Salma says:
19 March 2013

I receive unsolicited texts and calls on my mobile and landline often, despite never having taken out any insurance or loans. Largely calls regarding missold PPI and marketing calls from energy providers.

Back of 2010 i paid £10 for a 0871 number to attach to my home phone. Every time I give out my “home number” i always give the 0871 no matter who it is. NPower, Talktalk, my bank etc. I never give my mobile number out, only to friends and family.

Since 2010 I have made around £160 on the 0871 number. So ever tho people hate getting PPI calls etc i love them, keep them on the phone as long as possible and just get paid for the call 🙂

how do you get an 0871 number?

Good for Which? and thank you for taking some action at last.

David Parry says:
19 March 2013

I’m registered with TPS, but it doesn’t stop calls from outside the UK, so I just have to accept these intrusions. Maybe with all our tech advances, something could be done, if there was a will? I have also begun to get emails from these people, mainly from within the UK, sometimes 4 in a matter of minutes from the same place, and up to 40 per day. The Information Commissioner’s website is of no help whatever, with its main idea being to contact the companies and asking them to stop! In many cases, the emails are actually breaking the law.

David Parry says:
19 March 2013

I know this is not about emails, but following my earlier post, I checked my spam. 55 emails already today! Can Which? not add this to the campaign, please?

Just checking. Maybe you’ve got a virus or a Trojan? I have good anti-virus and I generally only get emails from companies that I do regular business with. If I get fed up with any particular one I can unsubscribe on most emails or configure Outlook Express to send mail from particular accounts straight to deleted. So, generally I only get tolerable amounts of what might be called unsolicited mail (of course, if left for a few weeks it would soon mount up!) But, 55 in a day sounds worrying.

At one time I was getting around 100 junk emails per day on my university mail account, and so were my colleagues. Our IT guys finally discovered spam filters and the number dropped dramatically. I believe that ISPs routinely filter out the worst of the spam nowadays. It is worth Les checking whether other users of his ISP are having the same problem.

Having your email address on a website is likely to result in junk email, because email addresses can easily be ‘harvested’ automatically. There are various ways to overcome the problem. I set up a new website for a charity in 2006 and put all contacts’ email addresses on as images. That means that users have to type in an email address but I don’t believe I have had a single spam email to the email address I use on this website. Now that I have been retired for 18 months and my email address has gone from my former employer’s website, the junk email has virtually disappeared.

It’s probably OK to unsubscribe from companies that you have registered with, but many have written that this is inadvisable and can result in your email address being passed to other companies. I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve always just ignored these messages.

Best of luck in sorting out the problem, David.

Boomer says:
19 March 2013

The TPS is simply a central opt-out register.
It’s down to the companies (whether UK based or overseas) to comply with the, self regulatory, legislation.
Basically ensuring companies don’t call anyone that has registered & opted out from sales & marketing calls.

The enforcement for failing to comply with these regulations not dealt with by TPS but down to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

We’ve been glistened with the TPS since 2009 but still get nuisance calls bith fro. Abroad and the uk, some are automated and other via a human, they all seem to ask for a “Mrs Street”, and when I’ve said no one lives at this address with that name they say it doesn’t matter and then try to continue. I’ve also tried just asking who they are but they are reluctant to give company names let alone an address otherwise I’d send them a bill for my time. Foreign callers tend to be very aggressive and threaten to hound us with calls. Had been getting slot from India at one. Point re viruses on my windows computer and that they could very kindly help me, doh I’m not that stupid! But they seem to have tailed off since I started having fun by saying my windows were fine as they were cleaned regularly and had curtains in front of them so no viruses could get in 🙂

Also get lots of nuisance calls and texts to my mobile, I save each number now under nuisance calls so I can just ignore the call, I’ve informed O2 on numerous occasions but nothing seems to be done.

Would be great if Which can sort this out. It would save a lot of wasted time.

19 March 2013

The problem of unwanted calls is certainly a subject that requires URGENT investigation and measures taken to stop these. Likewise I have registered with TPS which unforunately seems powerless to prevent these, particularly those from overseas call centre’s (International). Luckily we have ‘Caller Display’ so we have resided to only answering calls where a number is shown after registering & paying £39.99 to the ‘ CALLPREVENTIONREGISTRY’ who claimed they would eliminate these within 28 days which was a waste of time and money.

Michael Gardiner.

David Hill says:
19 March 2013

I am also registered with TPS but the ‘spam’ callers get around this by saying we have given ‘permission’ to receive calls from them – something I would find very difficult to disprove. Following a raft of calls to both landline and mobile, regarding PPI, debt write off, claims for accident, etc., I have started to report the numbers I can identify to the Information Commissioner’s Office via their website. Although they will not take action individually they may investigate if they see a problem. Perhaps Which members can add weight to the Which campaign by backing this up with complaints to ICO as well. These calls are annoying, at the very least, and I would like to know where they have got hold of my details.

Hectare says:
22 March 2013

RE the alleged ‘permission’. When I got one of these calls I got the caller/company address from the rep(tile) then sent in a Data Protection request to enforce them to disclose the ‘permission’… caused them some inconvenience and cost and seems to stop them calling again.

Max Lewis says:
19 March 2013

I received on my two lines 5/6 nuisance calls a day mainly from overseas as the Telephone Pref Service works pretty well in the UK.

I have asked BT to stop all non European, non US calls to my two lines in that most of the calls come from SE Asia. BT say Ofcom and the Information Commissioner prevents them stopping calls from overseas but I have spoken to Ofcom and Info Commissioners office who say this they do not prevent whole classes of stopping.

BT also says there are technical problems in stopping overseas incoming calls. I cannot see how this would be technically difficult as they can easily stop nuisance calls in the UK.

Dr David Gilbert says:
19 March 2013

In the last eighteen months I have moved in with my mother.. I was truly shocked at the number of unsolicited phone calls she had to deal with each week. Some ‘cold callers’ preyed on her sense of vulnerability by, for example, a caller stating that there was a problem with her PC and the caller had been asked by Microsoft to help her resolve the issue.
Despite being registered with the TPS for a considerable length of time, the number of calls remains unacceptably high. One strategy many callers employ is to state, that they are not calling to sell a product and therefore the terms of the TPS are not applicable . On the rare occasion I have answered the call I have deliberately engaged the caller to try and establish the details of the caller. On every such occasion I have been informed that they cannot disclose the name or address or telephone number of the organisation.
This persistent flouting of telephone cold call guidelines appear to be wholly ignored by nearly every single company that plagues my mother. There has to be a far more robust response by those who have the power to end such practices. It is wholly unacceptable that my mother, a woman in her 80’s, has become apprehensive about answering the telephone due to the aggressive and persistent companies that prey on some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
I fully support any progress Which? might achieve in this important campaign.
Keep up the good work Which? !

W.B says:
24 March 2013

The Microsoft thing is a scammer, should you answer it again just tell them you have a mac that puts them off.

Lucy says:
19 March 2013

I’m on the TPS and also get nuisance calls, mainly from overseas. UK ones I say I’m on the TPS and they usually apologise and put the phone down. I do keep getting recorded message calls too.
I get the market research ones too (overseas)- but I usually do the survey…
How old are your windows and doors – just had them all done, kitchen – under 2 yrs, bathroom – 2 yrs, conservatory – it was fitted a year ago …Do you have any loans – no, have you ever paid -PPI – no, would you consider giving to these charities -no (only give to local charities – which is actually true – I wouldn’t give to a chugger or any charity on that list because they are encouraging these calls) Annual income less than £10k…thinking all that (most of which isn’t true!) will at least discourage some of these calls …maybe the survey ones too when they work out they can’t sell my details to anyone…
Worst I find are the ones from Microsoft (???!!!) telling me about the virus on my computer… depending on my mood /how busy I am either say no I don’t but I would have if I listened to you, tell them they should be ashamed of themselves and are wasting their and my time – …or play along for a while, act really worried and say I’m going to do a virus scan – then leave the phone off the hook for a while – or ask for their number so I can call them back!.

Spam e-mails – a nightmare – the e-mail providers need to do more
I had problems a year or so ago with someone trying to hack into my hotmail so have all the mail from there forwarded onto another account -which I only use for personal stuff – so no emails or contacts in my hotmail. Only thing I do in there is check the junk (occasionally a wanted e-mail gets put in there) and block the senders – but find that you really need to block the domains – which is a pain to do , you have to type them in …and they change regularly…had that email for 15+ yrs now and I get hundreds of junk emails a day….

TEQ says:
19 March 2013

The calls aren’t actually from Microsoft, just a very shady organisation pretending to be and hoping that using the name will give them an authority that they don’t have.

The TPS only prevent calls from most legit companies, i.e. the one that follow the rules.

In the last week I’ve had 3-5 calls a day most with non withheld UK numbers, that tells me that companies don’t fear OFCOM/ the ICO or TPS. All 3 regulators are no good.
Then you get the overseas calls which our regulators have managed to wriggle out of having to deal with.

Its just not good enough. Certainly time for a change.

Boomer says:
19 March 2013

William just pick up on a point, the TPS are not a regulator. They are just responsible for providing an opt out service/national register. The TPS have no powers.

You are correct the ICO definitely need to do more and I hope this campaign puts pressure on them to act.

And the real problem with the TPS is apparently that they charge companies to get hold of lists of numbers not to call ( I heard around £7k), so many choose not to bother. Seems like a flawed business model to me. Why pay £7k when you don;t fear getting caught or prosecuted.

And if as you say they have no powers why do the ICO insist I contact them 1st ? Buck passing or what. No wonder the systems are in such a mess.

Boomer says:
19 March 2013

The legislation is self regulatory so which is why the marketing industry pay to be compliant. It’s either that or us consumers pay for the service. Why should we have to pay?

You are right! It’s flawed only in the fact the government organisation responsible for enforcement is not doing their job. If they enforced their own legislation then more companies would comply with the TPS.

I work for a company and my problem is these nuisance calls are coming through to certain departments that causes safety issues. I have been trying to find ways to stop these but there are no systems out there suitable. We have registered a few numbers with CTPS but this does not stop the calls and we are are unable to sit through the call to gather information to pass on. There are certain configurations you can do to business lines but its either long winded or ends up stopping genuine calls. I would like to see how ‘WHICH’ gets on. Good one.

These calls are driving me crazy. Who knows where they come from – have registered on TPS but seems to make no difference. Recorded announcements on the land line; recorded, real voice and text on the mobile, they just don’t stop. The companies that do this are scum. They clearly trawl for phone numbers and then fire off their nasty little messages about debt and PPI and insurance claims. What to do? Seems easy to me – as soon as you can get hold of one of their numbers it must be followed up by a regulator to find out if they are following correct procedures, and fine or shut them down if not.