/ 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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Comments
Neal Davies says:
30 March 2013

To whomever it may concern

Nuisance telephone calls are annoying and disturbing. Thank you Neal

sondra says:
31 March 2013

I am fed up to the back teeth with Nuisance calls, especially the International calls or out of Area calls with held numbers. something should be done about them sodixon2012

Dowding says:
31 March 2013

I totally agree please stop these unwanted calls its an infringement of our personnel peace and rights

John says:
30 March 2013

I have now gone in the opposite direction I tell them exactly what they want to hear. Yes I have a 570,000 mortgage with lots of PPI and no I haven’t claimed for it. Yes my ears have been damaged at work “sorry what did you say?” Half an hour later they realise they have been had but 30 other people have been saved from their calls in the mean time 🙂

Don’t get mad.. Get Even!

Veronica says:
30 March 2013

That was a fantastic idea, have considered doing it myself before, now will do it too.

Peter Francis says:
30 March 2013

I registered with TPS sometime ago – when I receive a nuisance call I point out that they should not be contacting me – they say this is just a survey and not a cold call!

Brian Gilbert says:
1 April 2013

Had this many times but I still report the call to TPS.
Althoiugh my number is unlisted I found that companies can get the number from electioral rolls and the Cennsus!

Dave W says:
2 April 2013

Phone numbers aren’t included on the electoral roll so they won’t get it from there.
You can have your details excluded from the version of the electoral register which is sold – contact your council’s electoral registration officer.

Margaret says:
30 March 2013

These so called cold calls, make me red hot! It’s an intrution into my life, that I don’t want or need. They take away precious time that cannot be replaced. I have tried not answering, I have tried answering and just letting the call run it’s allotted time, (no one speaks). I have also tried to engage and without losing my patience, I tell them I am registered with TPS. The reply is, ” this is only a survey”, poppycock.

SHEILA ELLIS says:
1 April 2013

There is one way to get the caller to hang up so quickly you’d think the phone was red hot. Just tell them you are 90 years old – in a quavery voice of course. It works like magic.

Laurie driver says:
30 March 2013

It’s got so annoying & frequent (home & mobile) so much for the TPS, I now routinely don’t answer the phone unless I know the number. I’m hoping genuine callers will leave a voicemail. If I do answer, I don’t speak which makes genuine callers feel uncomfortable, and I noticed that a lot of unregnognised numbers just cut the call, I don’t know if they are voice activated pre-recordings? As for texts I’ve had hundreds, never the same no. Twice. I know because I store them under the label ‘parasite’. It’s unwanted, intrusive, threatening (for some) and infuriating; I want to call them back (speak to a human, not a tape recorder) and give them a price of my mind, but alas the no. Isn’t recognised. I would happily shoot these people plug they wasn’t allowed to conduct themselves anonymously. I can only conclude that the governing forces are all majority stakeholders in these companies; why else would they support this invasion of our lives?

Paul says:
30 March 2013

I also have BT barring on my line ( which i think is a rip off ) but this doesnt stop calls from call centres based in another country Grrrr

SHEILA ELLIS says:
1 April 2013

It is free for one month before they start charging you.

Jenn says:
30 March 2013

I have a number barring service from BT which allows me to block numbers. On my IPhone I have the IBLACKLIST software. The only thing I hate is it adds it to your contacts list and when they call back you know its one of the blocked numbers on your phone, I would rather it blocked the number completely from contacting you like the BT programme which tells people you are not accepting their calls. A really good website is the whose calling me website where you can enter a number and find out who it is. I have found out a lot of these mobile numbers / phone numbers have been from sales companies, PPI’s etc which is useful. Something definitely needs to be done more by the phone industries and stronger software programmes that actually stops the number from calling you needs to be created.

Penny says:
30 March 2013

For several weeks I have been reporting these numbers to the ICO. When is something going to be done?

Aziz Al-Jeboury says:
30 March 2013

These calls are intrusive to our privacy ,please do something to stop them

Andy says:
30 March 2013

When I answer and they ask for either myself or my partner, I just tell them “I’ll go an get them for you”. I then place the handset on a nearby surface and get on with my day. Pop back 5 mins later and they’ve hung up, but at least I’ve wasted some of their time & money, not they mine!
It’s not very subtle… and it does block my line for however long I leave the phone off the hook, but there is a small sense of quiet satisfaction in giving them a little taste of their own medicine.

Beware of the latest trick used by these scammers, they give you a number to call them back on to confirm they are genuine this is how they scam you: you cancel the call your end to dial them back but in fact they haven’t put the phone down, you think you are dialling the number they gave you but in fact you are still connected to them. I’ve heard this happened to someone who had a call saying it was from the police telling them they had been victims of a scam and needed their bank details to confirm who they were, the caller said they could ring them back on 999 but they didn’t check they had a dial tone before ringing back and the scammers were still on the line pretending to be the police. These people will keep finding new ways to trick and scam and no matter how aware we are we could all be caught off guard.

Miss Stern says:
30 March 2013

I have taken to offering them sexual services, saying I am a prostitute. I do the same with advertising texts. Not much business yet, LOL, but it gets rid of them pretty fast!

Eric Marshall says:
30 March 2013

These calls are an infringement of people’s privacy and should be illegal .

They are not only a nuisance but worrying for particularly older people.

Brian says:
30 March 2013

Could you please release the personal and office telephone numbers of the top management in the companies who are making nuisance calls? Then we could Telephone them occasionally, to Ask them politely to desist.

Rosie says:
30 March 2013

received 2 calls yesterday, showing up as international , obviously from Pakistan or India, perhaps parliament should be lobbied until they do something about this. I can’t ignore calls that show up as international as I have family living abroad & it could be important.

Veronica says:
30 March 2013

What a hot topic. It is so sad that these people are ALLOWED to get away with it. TThe one who has been the most nuisance to me so far was the ones calling from ”Microsoft in Manchester”’ telling me my computer has problems, they received my reports from my computer. My answer has always stayed the same – they cannot link my landline number to my computer. at first they argued with me, and I put the phone down, then they started harrassing me, and I just put the phone down. I always tell them that it is IMPOSSIBLE for them to know my telephone number as my computer is NOT registered with them and I have never given them my number. Now they don’t call anymore, think they have the message.

Paul says:
30 March 2013

This is my vision for dealing with this problem.
First, there needs to be a simple means for people to indicate that the last call is a nuisance call, for example, by dialing a number sequence like 1333.
All the telephone companies use computerized telephone exchanges so technically it would be simple to identify and block the sources of the calls if in the UK. Obviously the telephone companies have no interest reducing their business or in cooperating with their competitors, so they may take some persuading to identify and block the calls.
What would really stop these calls would be if the callers had to pay a significant charge for each call. This would require the means to add a large charge to a call that had completed. (Technically, it is just some computer program duplicated on each virtual telephone exchange.) This should done irrespective of where the call came from. ie this would include calls from abroad and via Skype at the point where Skype connects to the telephone system. I don’t think there are any real technical problems with this approach. The challenges are contractual and legal, but mostly lack of political will.
I anticipate that some legitimate callers would be caught out to begin with. They need to be refunded. However, as a database of legitimate callers was developed, this issue would almost entirely go away. Anonymous nuisance calls would always be charged.

Mike says:
30 March 2013

Despite advising repeat callers that my wife is physically disabled and might fall when trying to reach the phone, we are plagued on a daily basis by these calls. I am heartily sick of them.

Rod - P'boro says:
30 March 2013

I was in France recently – expecting a business contact whilst I was away. I received a voicemail message left on my mobile – Thinking this was the business contact I had been expecting I accessed it only to find that it was some firm trying to offer me compensation on PPI cover (I haven’t had a loan, mortgage or similar for over 15 years). On hearing the nature of the call I terminated it straight away – IT HAS STILL, HOWEVER, COST ME 18 pence FOR ROAMING COSTS ON MY PHONE BILL – NOT A LOT I KNOW, BUT IT’S THE PRINCIPLE!!

G M lewiw says:
30 March 2013

I’m simply fed up with these calls. I no longer answer my land line because it,a always a nuisance caller . My friends no longer ring my land line , I might aswell get it removed , but I use it for my Internet connection . I feel that these nuisance callers are infringing my privacy

Paul_London says:
30 March 2013

I feel violated in my own home with the daily calls I get. The calls sound like they are made at an off-shore asian call centre and the companies they purport to come from sound vague and fabricated – “UK National Survey” is the common name I’m given. The calls usually start out the same- a claim that I have been involved in a car accident which is completely untrue, followed by a statement of my address as if trying to prove they are legitimate. Despite my pleas for them to remove my details from their system and never to call again and threatening action against them (ha! what action?), it’s always completely ignored, and I often get told why they should remove my details. That sums up the situation- they have all the power to keep calling and I have no way to prevent them. It’s completely ridiculous that in this day and age of Big Brother, the authorities don’t seem to take any effective action against these companies/individuals. I have repeatedly logged my complaints with the ICO but it just seems to go into a black hole.

Please Which? Get the authorities to crackdown on these loathsome companies once and for all.