/ 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
Ian Brown says:
22 March 2013

I currently have a lot of calls pretending to be from O2 offering me a phone upgrade. What they really try and do is sell me a new mobile contract.

Aaaarrrrgh!

I am already registered on the TPS system both home and mobile numbers but it doesn’t seem to stop them. They even try and argue the toss by say the fault lies with their list providers until I tell them it’s their company I’ll be reporting to OFCOM – which I frequently do.

It might be nice for OFCOM to publish the results of successful prosecutions & fines given out. It would make me feel better about going through the process of reporting them.

MyPhone says:
22 March 2013

Same happened to us. The company calling actually turned out to be ringing on behalf of O2 and this did seem to be true, but it was like getting blood from a stone to get them to properly describe what the relationship was between the caller and O2, which makes you suspicious from the offset. When they say they are a particular company, but patently are not, even if working on behalf of them, there ought to be some legal responsiblity for revealing who they are and what the relationship is.

Norman Grant says:
22 March 2013

I joined TPS some years ago and sales calls all but stopped. Then along came calls that were definitely not sales calls, but merely information on government schemes to help me buy solar panels or insulation. I have complained many times to TPS and the regulator. I have tried to pint out that this is not about rogue companies, but an entire industry that simply ignores TPS registration. As far as I can tell nothing is done. At least this week a company has been fined. Maybe that will act as a warning. Most callers are unconcerned when I say that I am TPS registered.
A new nuisance that is growing are pre-recorded message calls. I am not a customer of the banks they mention. I do not have oustanding debt. Others tell me about entitlements that I may not have claimed. There is no reason for receiving these calls.
I work from home and am on-call so need to answer calls, even if they are number unavailable.

Tamy says:
22 March 2013

We hardly ever use our home phone and only have it for emergency situations. We only give our home number when it’s absolutely required.

Every day we receive calls on our home phone – at least once a day. Mostly they were for PPI insurance. I stopped answering them some time ago.

The nuisance aspect for us is that it has woken our sleeping baby.

When I did answer it, often I would be on hold to THEM!

Anna Farish says:
22 March 2013

I have registered with the TPS and recommend it highly. For the more persistant callers with ‘international’ idents I adopt an indian/german/french accent. They terminate the call usually. The minute an ethnic voice tells me their name is Roger/Simon/Janet/Susan(insert generic anglicised name here) I ask them about the weather, get chatty waffle and then walk away leaving the phone off hook with them hanging. I have fun because I pay the bill and this phone is here for MY convenience not theirs. I keep a mobile which is never given out EVER just in case.

Mike from Amersham says:
22 March 2013

Yes – with Which? all the way! Meanwhile I have a bit of fun if I can spare the time with the “Microsoft Engineers”. Asked about my PC, I tell them that I actually have two PCs, one male and the other female, the latter of which is pregnant and I am hopeful that a third PC will be born shortly. This information causes the caller to refer to his Manager, to whom I repeat the information, dead-pan. He has sometimes referred it further up the line and the ultimate “Engineer” usually recognises that it’s a joke! Sadly, his minions don’t!

As for the rest – I’ve had the same organisation requesting I complete a “survey” 7 times in two days – I tell them I know the householder would be very happy to carry out a survey and I will fetch him. I then leave the phone of the hook. I’ve no idea how long they hold on, but at least that stops them phoning someone else for a time!

Of course, bleeding hearts will say “the minions are only doing a low-paid job”, so I shouldn’t blow a whistle down the phone, etc, but, hey, tough, I don’t give to beggars in the street, but I do give to Shelter and so on, who do ask us NOT to encourage begging in the streets – this is the same.

Mike says:
22 March 2013

When ‘Microsoft’ phone about a fault on my computer, I tell them that I operate several in my property and which one are they talking about. This completely floors them as then generally have a prepared script.

cecilia says:
22 March 2013

I have been registered with the TPS snce its inception but I find it useless – I continue to get unsolicited calls all the time – when I ask the caller when he/she last checked the register nine times out of ten he/she does not know what I am talking about and simply tells me that he/she is working from a list provided – when asking to speak to the boss I get taold the list was purchased from a reliable source that was supposed to provide only numbers that have been checked!!!!
Whe I pick up the phone and get the few moments silence confirming it is an international cold call I simply replace the received straight away. Many calls are recorded and I put down the receiver then dial 1471 and I usually have the number – I have reported them to BT and the TPS but they continue.
There seems nothing that will stop these nuissance calls – I also get texts telling me that I can claim on my accident – what accident I have not had one!!! I simply delete.
My mother with early dementia received a call telling her she was a prize winner – fortunately she did not reveal any information [well I hope she didn’t] but it took a long chat for her to understand that she had not entered any competitions so how could she have won any money. These calls are dangerous.
Life is one big nuissance – it would be interesting to learn if any of these companies do actually make any money from unsuspecting public –

Paul says:
22 March 2013

My number has been registered with the TPS for over a year. I get three or more cold calls between 3pm and 6pm every weekday. I now filter all calls with my answer machine when I am in. Some calls are fully automated and record until the machine is full. Others ring off once they’ve heard my message. Most suppress their number before calling. One unusually polite caller I did challenge, pointing out that my number is TPS registered. He explained that on an online purchases I made, I must have failed to tick the box that forbids your details to be sold on to other companies in the group etc etc. It is very difficult to deny that this has never happened, as I have been buying on the internet for years. I think you should have to opt in rather than to opt out – that would improve things eventually, and close this loophole.

MyPhone says:
22 March 2013

Absolutely agree – Opt Out should be the default, so that the responsibility is NOT put on the consumer to look for the often tiny little box to tick to Opt Out.

Also, beware of those that have a number of boxes, some of which say “I do not wish to receive further info from x”, only to be followed by a sneaky one which says “I DO wish to receive from carefully chosen companies….”, then one which you HAVE to tick to accept terms and conditions – these are designed so that you innocently just tick them all. I think that Consumer Law should make this not legal.

Gary says:
22 March 2013

I keep getting called from 07867534765 googled it & it seems he is calling many others PPI salesman

Pansy Potter says:
22 March 2013

Never, ever spend time answering a ‘market survey’ as any answers you give will generate multiple calls!

Sue says:
22 March 2013

Here are all the numbers I’ve collected over the last couple of years. Many of them ring or text repeatedly. Where I know what they are (e.g. PPI) I’ve noted that too. I don’t answer any calls from numbers I don’t recognise, I google them and most of them appear on ‘who calls me’. I don’t open any of the texts either – there’s enough of a preview to see what they are, and I just press delete. Still they keep coming…

0113 859 1300 (PPI)
01392 458970 (MCAS? Financial claims management)
01420 447656 (PPI)
0161 200 1120
0161 235 0202 (new one Feb 2013)
0161 236 2565
0161 249 4490/1 Auto Direct (Confused.com)
0161 249 4522 (Chameleon)
0161 495 3897 (Chameleon)
0161 873 5540/1
020 3476 2594 (accident claims)
07511 319233 (PPI)
07549 358073
07594 688157
07707 246438
07714 743410 (“loan update” – I don’t have one)
07759 137190
07760 758664
07843 702253
07851 049174
07856 051179
0843 410 9704
0845 286 6469

Please feel free to taget all of these if you can find out who they are!

marga says:
22 March 2013

I am also registered with TPS, but still receive calls. Very anoying! I leave the Phone off the hook until i hear the wistle. At least i waste their time and cost them a call.

By the way i clicked con t & c and did not work. Abad show Which!!!

Most phone companies offer a call blocking service but levy a charge for it. Why do they charge for this service? If it were free and, lets face it, it is only a computer application, then more people would take advantage and this would reduce the problem. There are many free services (in my case Caller Display is free) so why not Call Blocking? If callers have the right to call me and, sometimes, hide their number then I should have the right to block the call.

I totally agree with Which? and the comments. I am tempted to keep a whistle next to the phone and to blow it as loudly as possible as my response to such callers but perhaps the calls would then only come at about 3 am! It is undoubtedly an invasion of privacy and I hope your campaign “suck-seeds”
(referring to the beakless budgie!!!!).

DP

jackwalsh says:
22 March 2013

Like most people,have registered with TPS a while ago and it does seem to slow the flow of nuisance calls. I still get the usual PPI/Personal Injury jerks trying it on,including the recorded message ones,but just put the phone down straight away anyway.As I work nights,obviously calls made mid morning are never welcome.I have started putting my home and mobile phones on silent but then you take the risk of missing an important/emergency call from someone you actually need to speak to.You shouldn’t have to do this.Something should be done about it but,as with spam emails etc,I think it’s going to take more than a few fines to stop these pests.Maybe going right to the source of these calls,ie insurance companies etc,and making it illegal to sell on your details.Then again,these days,every time you call/phone/email someone about anything you’re putting yourself out there.

B Ligerant says:
22 March 2013

We pay for caller ID and only answer no’s we recognise. Any others go to answerphone. We figure that if its important they’ll leave a message. Probably get at least 6 nuisance calls a day and 1 or 2 texts a week.

Most phone companies offer a call blocking service but levy a charge for it. Why do they charge for this service? If it were free and, lets face it, it is only a computer application, then more people would take advantage and this would reduce the problem. There are many free services (in my case Caller Display is free) so why not Call Blocking? If callers have the right to call me and, sometimes, hide their number then I should have the right to block the call. TPS is toothless and has no effect on reducing nuisance calls in my experience.

Cheema says:
22 March 2013

What is the point of fining company?, the money ends up where? not with me who has had to suffer these annoying calls.

What we need is a £5 or more refund for every number on their phone/text list as compensation for taking their irritating calls/texts, that would be better then the fine that ends up in someones pocket.

I am constantly having to answer the phone,as soon as I pick it up, before I can speak, a robotic voice begins asking about PPI, usually but also about my suppsed accident.I get these calls on both phones landline and mobile. I was told if I blocked unavailabkle or withheld I would probably block important valls from hospitals etc. Which turned out to be true as recently we have had calls from the hospial about appointments. This is not new; .I suspect someoie in some hospitals makes money.Many years ago I was sent to the hospital – before mobiles and all this stuff – with a back propblem. A few weeks later I was bombarded withleaflets asking if I had a back problem and offering help. Three years ago I had another problem, same thing happened. I had had pneumonmia and got leaflets for related problems!

Bob Mason says:
22 March 2013

Self regulation is a failure.

We need legislation which makes the Directors of companies liable to criminal prosecution if their company utilises the services of non-UK based call centres to make sales calls. Fines should be heavy [min £50K] with the possibility of custodial sentences for repeat offenders.

In the meantime firms which use cold calling by phone/text for claims management etc should lose their licence from the Department of Justice.

Phone providers should also be obliged to supply call barring equipment free of charge to anybody who complains about these calls. Funding should be provided by the marketing industry.

Christine says:
22 March 2013

We were given a new telephone number 15 months ago. Immediately we received phone calls asking for a ‘Mr Freeman’, daily, sometimes more than once. We are not the Freemans. At first we thought it genuine, the caller claiming some legitimate reason to speak to Mr Freeman regarding Mr Freeman’s computer. We asked them repeatably to take us off their database as they had the wrong number. They would claim they had just got the name wrong and still needed to speak to us about our computer and they once challenged us that we were the Freemans. Although we have since hung up as soon as we get a silent call, or hang up without comment as soon as we are asked for Mr Freeman, the calls continue intermittantly. We think that they ask everyone for Mr Freeman hoping to get in conversation and get lucky occasionally in persuading someone to give information that enables them to carry out some fraud. This is in addition to the nuisance calls mentioned in other comments.