/ 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

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James Harrington says:
25 March 2013

I sit watching a T V program the phone rings pick the phone up and it’s from a Resarch Company. Or it’s a Company PPI claims, or Double Windows. And the worst one of all Company saying they are from Windows/Microsoft. Saying you have a problem with your Computer/Laptop. And various other Companys. All I say now is that I do’nt have one.

Bill says:
25 March 2013

Calls purporting to be from Windows/Microsoft saying you have a problem on your computer aren’t just nuisance calls. They are fraudulent calls attempting to gain unauthorised access to your computer and/or attempting to encourage you to release your credit card details to pay for a service that you will never receive. They are generally international in origin, although through some mechanism which I don’t understand they sometimes seem to be able to suggest they have a UK phone number.

Got a “Microsoft techician” the other day saying our computer was sending out messages, after playing along for quite a while and asking him to verify he was not a fraudster, I then posed the killer question, “So why does my AppleMac contact Microsoft”. Without any further conversation the guy hung up and the line went dead. Hmm, says something about moral standards, quite amusing though. Next time I’ll say my computer has Redhat Linux as the operating system, see what response I get.

Rosemary says:
26 March 2013

I have signed up to TPS and it makes no difference. Most days we get at least 1 if not 3 such calls and it is always lunch times or early evening. They are a complete pain.

John says:
26 March 2013

I was told a while ago that the guidelines for T.P.S. were not compulsory for cold callers to follow but voluntary. I also heard that B.T. cannot intercept international calls, therefore giving the culprits a loophole and the reason possibly for there having been an increase in these nuisance calls from Asia and sometimes the US. It might be worth mentioning that B.T. possibly has a lucrative business going supplying these firms with peoples telephone details as the only other alternative would be to have someone with a complete set of telephone directories doing nothing but looking through them 24/7. Watch out who you give your phone number to as this information can be passed on to other parties usually for some remuneration always ask if the information is going to be given to any other businesses this action can also negate any actions you have agreed with T.P.S.

Ian Goodacre says:
25 March 2013

Mainly PPI, Insulation Co’s, surveys and third party accident claims, I’m fed up to the teeth !

Robin Evans says:
25 March 2013

If one is lucky enough to have an answerphone with caller display then you can ignore the unlisted numbers and international callers. Genuine callers leave a message. Nuisance callers rarely do. If they do there is a certain satisfaction in deleting these calls at a time of ones choosing.

Not a complete answer, Mr Evans. I agree it would be great if one could ignore all such calls. However, various callers use the “Number Withheld” facility, including our local hospitals and our doctor’s surgery, and one cannot risk not answering, even though one knows it is almost certainly an unwanted cold call or some sort of fraudster. From my perspective it would be great if this facility were discontinued altogether.

Phil says:
25 March 2013

I think you can still safely ignore such calls since – as Robin points out – genuine callers will leave a message. We have been doing this since getting caller display about a year ago and have had no problems. We have recently had occasion to expect calls from local hospitals, and in this case we have answered.

If calls are that important the caller would leave a message, including doctors’ surgeries & hospitals. Caller display has been o Godsend to us

I signed up to TPS and it seems to be, in most cases, totally inafective in stopping unsolicited telephone calls. In my experience the number of such calls seems to have increased over the past ten years. Often if I ask for details of the company so I may report them, they do not reply or ring off and there seems to be an increasing number of calls that ring off as soon as you pick up the telephone. Needless to say that in all cases their number is withheld so you cannot report their call to TPS.

Am I being disingenuous in believing it’s a way of the phone copanies increasing their profits?

Barry Sequeira says:
25 March 2013

PPI claim companies, weekly; silent calls, presumably auto-generated calls weekly, but above all,Tom-Tom. So fed up are we with unsolicited calls with an Indian accent, imploring us to get some offer or other, that if we get one more we’re cancelling our account and returning to BT.

Rosemary James says:
25 March 2013

Since we obtained a land line number for our new home just over two years ago, we have been bombarded on a regular basis by calls from call centres asking for a ‘Mr. Hyde’. We rarely get told what the calls are about if we ask so, more recently, we have demanded they take ‘Mr. Hyde’s’ number off their database as he is totally unknown to us. The calls keep on coming any time of the day. We can only assume that our number belonged to Mr. Hyde before us and that he was either wanted for unpaid bills or just an unfortunate bod whose contact number has been disseminated among call centres in general. What can we do about this short of changing our number (which would be inconvenient as it has been given to numerous outlets, friends and family)?

Lucy says:
25 March 2013

Sorry – just seeing lots of posts about people ignoring numbers they don’t recognise…a word of warning – I discovered that when my daughter’s school call it appears as a different number to the one you use if you call them – even has a different area code.
(I discovered this after ignoring a call on my mobile – cos I didn’t recognise the number – only to find out later it was the school telling me she’d had an accident)
I think schools should tell us this …but actually it would be better if we didn’t get so many junk calls that we need to ignore our phones!

Julian says:
25 March 2013

I had a no-fault motor accident in autumn last year. Since then I have continually received calls from CMC companies. Those that I did answer initially tried to persuade me that I could still make a claim against the third party for ‘discomfort’, even though there were no injuries, which I have refused.

All there numbers are now entered into my call display as ‘Nuisance Calls’, but it still remains an almost daily annoyance to have to verify who is calling each time the telephone rings.

P&P says:
25 March 2013

We have been frequently bothered by ‘cold calls’ at about 12.30 and 5.30pm just as we sit down for a meal. Since deciding never to answer the pone then, the frequency has decreased markedly – a message is never left unless it is one of our friends or relations.
When we have used 1471 if a number is recorded it is 039393939. Is this a call centre and would it be an expensively charged number to call?

M.J.Clough says:
25 March 2013

I had 2 ‘International’ calls within a few minutes of each other this morning. usually I ignore them but this time I answered them to try and find out who they are. The first one the caller’s English was so atrocious I couldn’t tell a word he was saying so I told him not to ring again and hung up. Second caller was a bit better and I was able to establish she was ringing from a company called First Call Helpline. perhaps Which could investigate this company and have these calls stopped.

p.doff says:
25 March 2013

Just had a call from a foreign woman on 01233-24587 saying she wanted to speak regarding my computer. When the phone first rang I picked up the receiver but there was no one on the line at that point. It suddenly clicked through and that is when the woman told me what she wanted. I declined to speak to her and put the phone down.

David says:
25 March 2013

I do not get calls at the frequency of some, not more than one or two a week, but I have noticed that they are getting more aggressive. They used to just accept the situation if you said you were not interested. Then you could tell by the tone in their voices that they were annoyed, perhaps because so many people were not interested. This week I found they have become insulting.

First I got a call from a company offering me a free hearing test because I worked in a power station as an apprentice. How did they find that out? When I said I was not interested they advised I could claim up to £10,000 in compensation. I said I was still not interested. The caller, with a Yorkshire/Lancashire accent (apologies that I could not tell the difference) then said in an annoyed tone that I was the loser. I asked him to repeat what he said and he said “you’re a loser”. I asked him what company he worked for and he said that he told me that at the start of the call and was not going to repeat himself and hung up.

Today I got a call from a person with a very strong Indian accent. He started with the usual comment that he was not trying to sell me something and asked a couple of innocuous local questions. Then he asked a personal question to which I asked what company he worked for. He repeated that he was not trying to sell me anything so I asked again what company he worked for. He advised it was a lifestyle company from Manchester and asked a question about my age. I refused to answer twice and he said “Are you a mad person”. I asked him to repeat his comment and he said “**** off” and hung up. Naturally his phone number was not available when I called 1471.

The calls are bad enough but having to put up with abuse is appalling.

Brian Simpson says:
25 March 2013

We get nuisance phone calls every day – often more than once a day. It is extremely annoying, since you cannot afford to risk ignoring it. Sometimes they are obviously scams, at other times pestering for PPi or so-called research. Occasionally they are persistent or rather abusive if you refuse to answer their questions.

Surely there must be something that can be done.

Suzanne says:
25 March 2013

We’re signed up to the TPS but are still getting calls on a daily basis – sometimes at 9pm at night!

We’re so fed up with them we’ve been out and bought new telephone handsets with caller ID and have set them up with our service provider so we can screen our calls. But why should we spend money on buying new kit that we don’t need and paying a monthly fee to our service provider just so we can get some peace and quiet in our own home?

Something needs to be done!

Perhaps one of the most invidious calls come from people who have used the services of the search companies. As the owner of the last property in a tenement flat to be in the phonebook the names of many former and current occupiers of all the other flats were linked to my phone number.
As a result I received calls from many dodgy, dubious characters who immediately assumed that i was lying when I told them the person they were looking for was never available on this phone number. I presume they were all debt collectors or repo-men. Eventually I had to go ex-directory to prevent me from shouting abuse down the phone. This has removed most of them.

Jen says:
25 March 2013

I am so fed up of these calls from PPI, double glazing etc, that I do not answer my land-line any more at any time day or night. I have asked my friends to leave a message and I will pick up or ring them back.

I ask myself if it is worth having a land-line – spending money on it if I cannot answer it because of nuisance calls!!

AllieM says:
25 March 2013

I’ve read all these threads re not answering land-lines, is it worth having a land-line etc. We’re being held to ransom by these nuisance callers! We SHOULD be free to have a land-line etc! We SHOULD be free and not have to purchase caller ID or any other gadget/device!

Couldn’t agree more AllieM – I said something similar a few days ago.

What to me is so sad is that we are innocent recipients of unwanted nuisance calls that are so intrusive – and impotent in stopping them. We should not need to resort to caller identity, call blockers, TPS, answerphones, etc or other work-around means to get a bit of peace.

It’s not just the people who make the calls either – the phone companies are up to their necks in it; the regulators don’t regulate and most politicians aren’t bothered either.

Charles Baker says:
25 March 2013

I am 80yrs.of age and a 24hr.carer for my Wife who has alzheimers disease.
I entered into a contract with ‘NETWORK REGISTRATIONS’ on the 20th.Dec.2012 and paid on the internet £42.62 for filtering out nuisance calls.
Since 25th.Jan.2013 I have received 20 nuisance calls.
Have I been caught in a scam.?
TPI service has failed me.
Yes please get the regulators to fulfil their obligations to the public.

Charles Baker says:
25 March 2013

Subsequent to my vote and comments at 15.08 I received a call, male foreign voice-had my full name and address-callers number withheld.
The offer was for a box to be delivered to my address which would isolate nuisance calls.The caller had not however heard of the .Which’ magazine.I ended the call as I suspected a scam.Was this a coincidence so soon after my vote?

J Sainsbury says:
25 March 2013

We received several ‘cold’ calls per week, sometimes several a day. The latest one is 01274572953 who when I answer say they have an ungent message for me to reclaim £1,000 refund on my Private Pension. When I called back and challenged the person who answered the phone he hung up but I have his number. They have rung several times in a very short space of time. Surely something could be done to stop them. We are registered with TPS but this does not seem to make any difference.