/ 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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J Sellers says:
22 March 2013

We are registered with the TPS yet still receive several calls a week . When we pick up the phone no one speaks but we can hear background noise . We have also received calls re:PPI mis selling , these seem to originate on the Asian sub continent .When I have told them we are with the TPS they continue with there spiel . If I become more forceful – they accuse me of being rude to them!!

Also get British based calls re: Insurance mis selling or Accident claims . When told we’re with TPS some apologise and promise not to call again – they then call again.Some just go on with their sales pitch.

If I try to get a phone number from them they usually hang up or ignore my request . If I use 1471 then it usually shows number withheld . It shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to come up with a system where if they don’t give their number they don’t get through.

I am thoroughly fed up with these people I dread answering the phone,

bmccann obe says:
22 March 2013

i receive 4/5 calls per day 3 in the evening subjects energy, double glasing,surveys.i also have computer calls from contractors who failed to win a job,these calls are a punishment yours sincerly MRBMCCANN OBE

Mike says:
22 March 2013

Do what we do and if there is no number showing let the answerphone take the call.

S Reynolds says:
22 March 2013

We are still getting 2 -4 phone calls a day, always around 3pm and 6.30pm. When I have the oppertunity I will call back or pick up the phone and ask them where they received our details from (we are e-x-directory) and for them to take us off their list, before they can even start to ‘sell’ us something!

After a while the phone calls quieten down for it to start all over again.

george says:
22 March 2013

hi, i have got this sorted by purchasing a BT 6500 phone which allows me to screen unwanted calls such as number unavailiable, number witheld, international and call boxes, automatically. Expensive but well worth the cost for the satisfaction of stopping all the Bangladeshi surveys and ppi missold calls alone.I can now relax in the knowledge that when the phone rings it is always someone who i know or is in my interest zone- great product thanks BT!

Michael Hudson says:
22 March 2013

My phone shows me the number of the telephone calling me. I do not answer any number that I do not recognise eg numbers beginning 084 something, withheld numbers and numbers originating from Asia usually beginning 002 or similar. Its a nuisance letting the phone ring but after a few days the caller gives up and tries elsewhere. If the call is important they can use the mail.

I have found that having caller ID is extremely useful. If I see “number witheld” or “unavailable” I simply don’t answer the phone. Occasionally my husband answers it to try to tell these people to stop phoning, but often it’s just a computerised message or a blank line. We are also registered with TPS yet receive on average 3 or 4 of these calls every day.

I’ve started getting them to my mobile now as well. My policy now is that if the number isn’t in my contacts list then I don’t answer it. If it’s someone who genuianely needs to conatct me, they can leave a voicemail or text me, then I can add them to my contacts.

My mother and mother-in-law, both in their late eighties and both with very limited mobility (such that it is an effort to get up to answer the phone) and both living alone are also troubled by these calls, They are frightened when they receive ‘silent’ calls.

The day that cold calling becomes illegal cannot come soon enough for me.

Brenda Hibberd says:
22 March 2013

amI very fed up with these calls and now say not interesed and put the phone down.

Stephanie says:
22 March 2013

Well done..did exactly the same thing only an hour ago, just be very polite, tell them they have made an error & you didn’t ask for a call, then hang up.
Get REALLY cross because I am supposed to be ex directory, this however appears to be a waste of time because it obviously means nothing, especially as BT are one of the biggest culpriates! As for PPI & personal injury texts..don’t get me started…quite worrying, I didn’t realise I hah had so many accidents!!!!

Don’t be tempted to text STOP back to them. If you do that, they know that the phone number is a genuine phone and you’ll probably receive more of the damned texts!

Government-initiated bodies which purport to reduce these calls are not working in my experience.

However, there is no need to rely on them anyway; the answer is simple.

I have an answer-phone and I make a practice of not picking up whenever it rings, even when I am sitting right next to it. Obviously, when genuine callers speak I pick up as normal.

Cold callers usually hang up before the recorded message has even finished, but occasionally they do answer. I just ignore them – it’s their money they are wasting, after all!

That’s my recommendation. If you haven’t already got one, invest in an answer-phone.

Steve Whitley says:
22 March 2013

What is the point of signing up to the telephone preference service? It certainly doesn’t stop unwanted calls and the process of reporting an unwanted call is really complex.

I recently called O2 regarding this as I have been getting unwanted texts all hours, some after midnight! As I need to leave my phone on for call outs this is most frustrating. O2 said they would change my number but this is no use to me as this is my business. Been registered with telephone preference service for years on both landline & mobile but still the calls continue. I make a point of ticking all boxes as not to pass my details on & do everything I reasonably can to avoid my numbers being circulated. When I get calls, I answer, listen taking note of the company calling, I then inform them that my numbers are registered with TPS & could they please remove it. If not I will report the company. The calls haven’t reduced at all but I will continue to use this approach as have found that by ignoring them they continue to call & call till someone does answer, even more frustrating! Something needs doing, not only accident claims & PPI but now many release your pension calls & most from abroad.
Well done which for addressing this, good luck, guaranteed support from me

Mrs M Knights says:
22 March 2013

I just put the receiver face down and go off and do something else for a few minutes. They have usually gone by the time I get back.

Hotdesker says:
22 March 2013

There are lots of internet sites that suggest pressing your phone’s hash key (#) repeatedly when you receive a nuisance call, which is supposed to confuse the calling company’s telecoms equipment, but apparently even if it confuses the equipment, they may well try again another time. I did that trick once. I answered the call to silence, guessed it was a cold called, pressed # several times, and then I heard a voice saying “Hello?” just as I was angrily replacing the receiver.

Other people have just left the caller talking to himself – placing the receiver down (leaving the caller connected – they are paying for the call after all).

Apparently the best option is to stay silent and just hang up (bit difficult though if you have an automatic voice recorder kicking in after so many rings).

On my mobile phone, I sometimes have inadvertently answered, or called back a missed call (where real numbers have been used), only to discover that it was a cold caller. Rather than just deleting the number (and therefore probably answering it again), I save as “Marktg_DNA” (Marketing, Do Not Answer), a nice little prompt to tell me to ignore future calls.

Ken says:
22 March 2013

I receive at least two calls per week regarding PPI. It is always automated and begins”This is an urgent message………” At this point I cut the call off but it is very annoying and I should like it stopped.

This is getting worse! Each and everyday I receive around 6 calls to either my mobile or landline.
It has to be STOPPED. I have given up being abusive and simply say nothing and put the phone down…it help keep the blood pressure down!

The telecoms companies should also start treating this practice seriously and rather than charging for call barring facilities it should be a FREE optional extra. They are all on the make!!!!

Steve says:
22 March 2013

Like most people we have registered with the TPS service which appears to be a waste of time.
We get calls daily including some from overseas. the UK ones include firms selling their services to recover misold PPI, Scottish & Southerm Energy, double glazing. It certainly needs to stop.

Kay says:
22 March 2013

We have a caller ID display and if we don’t recognise a number we just wait for the answerphone to kick in, cold callers soon ring off.

Francis Rutter says:
22 March 2013

I, too, am registered with TPS and I have a little box by the main phone and have been told to press the button after the call [or during the call, I can’t remember which] . As the main phone is upstairs I never get to it in time.
I am a full time carer and so often the calls come while I am tending to my wife and when it is not just a nuisance but dangerous to leave her for more than a moment or two. I usually just say “No thank you” and put the phone down, then they do not have time to be abusive.
I had two yesterday.

We get a constant stream of cold calls, from the UK and from overseas – up to five or six a day. We are at the point where we are about to cancel our BT landline and use our mobiles for all calls. We have been signed up to TPS for 10-20 years, but if you point out that a cold caller shouldn’t be calling you, they simply say “we get our numbers from a third party who should vet them. Perhaps yours has slipped through …” By that time, of course, you have already stopped work, lost concentration, had to get up to answer the phone, etc. The TPS is, to be blunt, useless.

Somebody commented that it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to come up with a system to prevent nuisance calls. It isn’t. BT could do it tomorrow if they had the will, but they won’t because they make too much money out of these calls. Well so be it, but they will no longer make money from our landline, and I suspect others are or will be doing the same. It is time for this plague to stop.

Mike says:
22 March 2013

The latest calls I have received concern getting 70% debt relief if I owe more than £10,000. The three calls all originated from different numbers. I have reported these to the I.C.O but if any action is taken I know not.

mickp says:
22 March 2013

Something even worse is the automated calls with recorded messages that don’t have a person to complain to but persist in cluttering up the lines and you cannot trace the number. This should be made illegal.

Dr Angus Walker says:
22 March 2013

Hi. I too am fed up with nuisance automated calls and texts, and I have tried to complain to the regulator only to be told that their remit does not include texts. Although I have registered with TPS, it makes no difference to the call makers. Real action is needed and the Regulator is inadequate. If its lack of money, then the fines should be used to bolster the service.
A query I have is why insurance companies feel able to release confidential information about customers to claims companies. Surely, the information commissioner should be acting against them very firmly.
Regards Dr Walker

David Ivens says:
22 March 2013

I am on TPS but this is completely ignored by many companies. A new angle is the”release your pension” scam. Working on night shift I am regularly woken up by the phone ringing with these pests, unfortunately I have to leave the phone on as I have an elderly relative who relies on me being contactable. It surely can’t be beyond modern technology to trace these numbers and find the perpetrators. I have also started getting unwanted texts on my mobile which coincided with opening an account with a major high street bank. I am very suspicious that details were passed on to third parties. This activity should be treated in a similar fashion to doorstep selling which has almost completely ceased in my area.

James Cullen says:
22 March 2013

I keep getting calls about my computer that it has virus then they whant me to
go my computer for to sort out which I say do not go down this line, for all there after
is card number be warn…

I’m registered with TPS, but still get at least one phone call a day. I always tick, do not share my information, and can’t block international calls, since I have family and friends who live abroad.

I hang up immediately now, if they don’t respond to my hello and there is a pause, I know it’s a sales call.

I just say NO ENGLISH !! and start talking in swahili. They soon put the phone down and hopefully remove my contact from their calling list