/ 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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I receive calls every day on my landline and mobile,mainly PPI. What is the point of being ex directory when these firms can get your number without a problem. Sometimes I leave my telephone off the hook when I find out it is one of these companies,but this only works if I do not need to use the phone. Agree with all other comments, regulate the industry and remove this nuisance from people’s lives.

I shall renew my TPS but there is nothing in the phone directory to warn people that they are deleted after 2 years. Thanks for that information. And I shall look at the telephone model that blocks international calls. I shall also consider leaving them hanging on. At least I can easily delete the automated messages from my answer phone without having to listen to them. All the calls are just fishing. As I only use my mobile for urgent situations I haven’t had text messages.

Jeannette Vincent says:
29 March 2013

We have at least one international call a day. Have been getting recorded message calls about compensation for an injury I have had, which I have not. PPI text messages and compensation messages. I have forwarded these numbers to SPAM.

We have an answerphone and display on our landline so tend not to answer calls where I do not recognize the number, if someone really wants to speak to us they will leave a message.

Roden Buxton says:
29 March 2013

Unsolicited calls are destroying the functionality of the phone system because so many of us are resorting to ‘answerphone’ instead of picking up and speaking; they are also causing anger and distress.
An obvious first step that should have been implemented long ago is to make it impossible for any caller to conceal their phone number (identity); that way abusers could be dealt with.
Those legitimate organizations with good reasons for not wanting the public to call back on the same number should reveal their number (or identity) and then, if the public called back on that number, there should be an automated message identifying the caller, saying the line does not take return calls and, optionally, giving the number to be used for return calls.
Emergency services, for example, might need to have ‘outgoing only’ phone lines.
I am very angry that the ICO, OFCOM etc etc & the rest of them are being comfortably salaried at our (taxpayers) expense and have done SO LITTLE for SO LONG.

Dave says:
29 March 2013

We have had several calls on our answering machine from 02078706877 who want immediate access to our property. Originally we were asked to contact 01138876876 quoting a reference number to arrange a convenient time, but the latest message informs us that the company’s agent panel will be attending unannounced. As the callers never identify themselves, we regard such calls as threatening and will report them to our local police office. We have also informed our telephone provider but they appear to have little interest in who is clogging up their lines and upsetting their customers.

Gill says:
29 March 2013

We get lots of international calls, that often end in a disconnected tone when you pick the phone up. We also get calls telling us our PC needs something doing to it and we should log on so they can fix the problem – all a farce. Calls selling PPI, and calls letting us know we can get a grant for loft insulation. There are probably others, too, usually at evening meal time. If I’m in the mood, for the PC calls, I put the phone down telling them I need to go into another room to switch it on. Eventually they ring off, but hopefully it costs them money to stay on the line!

Dave Aitken says:
29 March 2013

I am constantly plagued by these calls and it is time a different approach was taken. BT charge £4/month to block international calls so why not put pressure on BT and the other line suppliers to make this service free and, better still, be the default setting. BT’s response so far, has been pathetic, perhaps because THEY make money from the calls too. All they have done is offer a special phone (for a price of course) which will block these calls. As for WHICH, why not do a survey of the services provided by the various telephone companies to help their customers in this regard. If one company starts to provide a sensible and inexpensive solution, people will flock to it.

Frank Weston says:
29 March 2013

I now do not answer my landline, I wait untill answer machine comes on if nobody speaks I just ignore it . 5 a day not uncommen.

Dave Bradley says:
29 March 2013

I moved into this house last May and in spite of the previous owner being registered with TPS and me also, I am plagued with both silent and nuisance calls. The previous owner is still in the phone book and they usually ask for them.
Calls seem to be predominantly from PPI , Solar panels and Energy Suppliers, so I don’t think they are coming from abroad, just ignoring TPS totally.
One “Eco” call was very abusive when I asked if he had heard of TPS. and informed me it stood for “Telephone Preference B******t Service”
I wonder if the answer would be to make them think you’re interested and keep them on the line for as long as possible. Then hang up. Unfortunately they can get you back by passing your number to all and sundry, so maybe not such a good idea after all.
Good Luck with your campaign.

Lynne from Cannock says:
29 March 2013

We receive calls 7 days a week even from 830am on a sunday to 930pm some nights. I have asked companies to remove my number, they say they will then they ring back a few days later. We receive calls for PPI, doors, windows, fascias, compensation for accidents, grants for loft and cavity wall insulation and consumer surveys which i never take part in. I have even put an answerphone message on saying i don,t want any of these and i won,t answer phone and they still ring and leave a message. The latest is when your phone rings and you do reply you get an automated message offering you ppi reclaim, so now not even a person speaks to you. I think it is downright harrassment and you should be able to sue for such…

M.Wheller says:
29 March 2013

We are constantly getting automated calls from companies telling us we are entitled to
PPI repayments , we have never had PPI . These are often followed by accident claim
Companies . We can see no way of stopping these . My 91 year old mother has the same
Problem anything to stop these would be very useful .

Hana says:
29 March 2013

Beware of callers saying they are wanting to help with computer problems and saying they are from Microsoft. They are NOT. They have various names and all based in India. They never give a phone number and say they will ring at a certain time to help with your computer problems. I am disputing a payment which I was conned into and they still call me. I now do not answer my phone and wait for answer phone before I pick up. Very worrying. They sound so convincing!!

D Cawte says:
29 March 2013

We are fed up with these calls. We receive at least one every day. Most are international with an Indian sounding person on the line. However we also receive a good number from the UK in spite of being registered with tps. PPI claims seem a favourite topic but recently have had calls from Indian sounding guy telling me that my computer has been infected with a virus. At the moment I receive few unsolicited text messages. I would be interested to know the best way of dealing with these calls to give the callers the maximum amount of trouble! Many of these callers are extremely persistent and could be considered threatening. We also get about 5 calls per week where the call is either terminated after one or two rings or cut off when we answer it – I guess this is computer generated calling.

phillijo says:
29 March 2013

I am despairing of stopping persistent nuisance calls. If I’m being offered PPI (I have had no loans, I am being offered compensation (has no accident, or I’ve been ‘chosen’ to take part in some sort of bizarre ‘market research’ that involves selling.)
I have tried all sorts of approaches from telling the caller that my mother has told me that I mustn’t speak to strange men, to telling them that my husband is dead/has left me – nothing, nothing nothing deters these people. I’ve tried reasonable – asking them to take me off their data base.
My current favourite is being very annoyed and telling them to go away and leave me alone … makes me feel slightly better.
I am registered with the TPS – although it doesn’t seem to be working. Good Luck Which? I am most grateful for your efforts. Hope it succeeds.

I get these calls at least once a day. They’re usually always about PPI, or some non-existent accident claim (must have involved amnesia), or even the Government wanting to give me a £1,000 pension bonus (as if). Always I have to press 5 to speak to an advisor or 9 to unsubscribe (I never subscribed in the first place, excuse me). I’ve now got to the stage where I tend to ignore any daytime calls on the landline as they’re usually only nuisance. However, it has led on a number of occasions to my missing genuine callers, which is annoying.

M. Bund says:
29 March 2013

not only are we plagued by cold callers, car accident, ppi, solar panels etc, we are also plagued on my e-mail account. If it’s not ppi, it’s payday loans, credit cards. I normally have between 20 & 40 a day and am sick to death of it.

Francis says:
30 March 2013

My calls to the land line are transferred to my mobile which means I pay for the call from land line to mobile. I often get several nuisance calls a day which I am effectively paying for.

dadab says:
30 March 2013

We had been driven crazy by unsolicited calls and so we took steps to diminish this. However, despite registering with the TPS, complaining etc nothing changed. We searched and searched until we purchased a digital system called ‘True call’. It is a small, 3″x 5″x 1″ white box which is connected to your telephone and ‘filters’ all your calls. It asks for the name of the caller and you can hear it & decide to accept it or not. You can ‘star’ the callers you want to accept and they will always come through as normal calls. It also includes an answering machine & other facilities. The only negative aspect is that it is quite expensive, around £80 – £100, but to us it is worth it.

Mike Catton says:
30 March 2013

I registered with The TPS (Telephone Preference Service) online, some years ago. It has certainly cut down on these calls, but some companies blatantly ignore the excluded phone numbers list that TPS generate.
Once the caller has given their introduction, I reply with. ‘This number is registered with the TPS, please remove it from your data banks’. If needed I repeated this comment only and do not enter into any other conversation.
A few years ago some callers would still push their luck, but recently I have found that the comment generates a high number of apologies.
Hope this helps, it is a case of being as stubborn as they are, but to your advantage.

John Scannell says:
30 March 2013

PPI, Energy Savings & Market Research are the main culprits in our house. Only my family has my mobile number so they are all on the land line and mostly between 5 – 7 in the evening. It’s a real nuisance especially if I am expecting a call from a family member or a client. Many of the calls appear to come from India. I used to have a lot of calls about my Windows software but they have reduced since I said I had recently retired form the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad and asked for the the name of their Managing Director & address of their office. I got neither.