/ Technology

Can you see the number that’s calling you?

what's your number

The Which?-led Task Force on Nuisance Calls will soon publish its recommendations. Before then, the Government has made another concession to help you tackle unwanted phone calls…

In response to an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill tabled by Baroness Hayter in the House of Lords, the Government has promised to make it a legal requirement for companies to use Caller Line Identification (CLI) when they make marketing calls. See column 915.

Now, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what CLI actually is. I once saw an interview with TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding, who, after her technical people had explained what CLI was, exclaimed ‘oh, you mean it’s the phone number that’s ringing me’. That’s exactly what CLI is – the number ringing you appears on your phone’s caller display.

Standing up for caller display

Mandatory CLI is something we called for when we first launched our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, and goes further than the Government’s Action Plan which came about due to your support. And CLI matters, because without it not only is it hard for you to know who’s calling you, it’s also very difficult to report unwanted calls to the regulators.

In Autumn 2013, both the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport and the All Party Group on Nuisance Calls backed our call for mandatory CLI. As did Alun Cairns MP who tabled a 10 Minute Rule Bill in Parliament.

In March 2014, the Government said it preferred a voluntary approach in its Nuisance Calls Action Plan. However, after we wrote to six leading trade associations requesting that they meet the terms of the voluntary Direct Marketing Association code of practice on CLI, we only got a positive response from one of them. Now, a year later, the Government has backed it too and all marketing calls will legally have to come with CLI.

Knowing who’s calling you

Caller display won’t solve nuisance calls – firms that already ignore the law will no doubt continue to do so and fail to send their CLI – but it will certainly help. If you have a landline phone with caller display, you’ll be able to see the number that’s calling you, other than those who have a legitimate reason to withhold it (such as the police or the NHS).

Meanwhile, Ofcom continues to investigate the more complex issue of how to stop marketing firms ‘spoofing’ their CLI, and ICO will try to take enforcement action against companies that continue to flout the rules.

Now there’s the small matter of getting this CLI concession implemented as soon as possible – hopefully in 2015. I think it’s time to make a call to the Government…

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Anything that might help protect us from nuisance calls is very welcome but I wonder if this will help the many who have registered with TPS to avoid marketing calls.

If companies are breaking the law by ignoring the fact that you are on the TPS register, will they be good enough not to withhold their number when calling? Will the scammers oblige by providing their phone numbers? That seems unlikely.

As I see it, the only way to resolve the problem of nuisance calls is to make unsolicited calls illegal and work with BT etc. to track down the offenders.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

I completely agree with you Wavechange on making ALL unsolicited calls illegal. It is the only way to stop the misery it causes to so many people.

If Baroness Hayter thinks this little law will make any difference, she obviously doesn’t answer her own phone.

Profile photo of ChrisGloucester
Member

Wavechange, Completely agree. It should be made illegal to make unsolicited calls to private numbers for the purposes of marketing and “surveys”. Perhaps with an opt in if you don’t mind being pestered everyday.
The TPS is useless, I’ve been registered with them for years and I still get plenty of sales calls and sales calls under the guise of surveys.

The big problem both with TPS and any legislation to outlaw unsolicited calls is that many of these calls come from nuisance callers abroad who won’t be bound by our systems and laws. Don’t really know the solution to that other than perhaps have an international call acceptance on/off switch on our phones.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Chris – As was pointed out to me recently, it is already illegal for companies to make direct marketing calls if we have registered with TPS. However, without effective enforcement, legislation is worthless.

Telephone market research is legal, unfortunately, and I believe that we have been told that Which? has not intention to take action except where the rules are broken, for example when calls purporting to be market research are in fact marketing calls, which is very common.

In my view, nothing less than a ban on all unsolicited calls is acceptable, and the phone service providers should be required to provide the information needed to take action against organisations and individuals so that it is simply not worth the risk to make unsolicited calls.

I would be happy for individuals to opt-in to receive market research and marketing calls, though the danger is that this would provide scope for ‘mistakes’.

It is very sad that BT is making a profit from selling call blockers rather than taking action to stop nuisance calls.

I’m not receiving nearly as many nuisance calls as I used to but I still want to be vocal about this for the benefit of those who are, especially the disabled, elderly and those who work night-shifts. According to Patrick, we are due to hear some positive news from Which? soon.

Member
surfit.uk says:
6 December 2014

Chris, I have a display on my phone and simply don’t answer if I don’t know the caller. If it’s important they can leave a message and I can get back to them. Simples !

Member
Gerry says:
11 December 2014

Letting an unrecognised CLI go answered certainly isn’t the answer to nuisance calls as far as I’m concerned.

It still means I’ve been disturbed (or woken up if I were a shift worker), and it still busies my line for genuine callers.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

Many telephones now let you choose to switch unidentified calls (those without a valid or an unrecognised CLI) direct to the answerphone. You can then invite the caller to leave their name, number and business if they wish you to return their call. So no uninterrupted sleep off shift duty!

Member
Gerry says:
11 December 2014

@ terfar

Wrong, wrong, wrong !

Why should VICTIMS of this anti-social and illegal behaviour be expected to pay for an expensive special telephone / answering machine, to pay a monthly fee for CLI and to pay to return genuine calls?

Profile photo of terfar
Member

I hope you’re saying that it’s the system that is wrong and not me. I gave you a solution to the current position so that you can get undisturbed sleep.

As I have posted elsewhere on this forum, I pay a Telco for the line rental and the phone service. I should not have to suffer all the unwanted nuisance calls.

My point was that there is a remedy for the current dilemma but admittedly, it does require some investment which is wrong.

I strongly stand by my main position in that I believe that CLI should be mandatory. No exceptions whatsoever. There just isn’t a reason not to use CLI.

But we also need an enforceable law, an agency to run it and a change in attitude to zero tolerance of illegal cold calls.

Member
Gerry says:
12 December 2014

@ terfar

I appreciate your suggestion of buying a clever telephone and paying for CLI information. Fortunately I’m not a shift worker so nuisance calls aren’t as disruptive as they could be.

But I strongly believe that it’s the authorities’ responsibilities to take much stronger legal and technical action against nuisance callers (e.g. by JAILING directors of companies that pay for sales leads obtained from foreign call centres ringing numbers on the TPS list).

Instead, telcos etc just prefer to profit by flogging expensive phones and services. That’s what’s wrong: they should be forced to take action at network level, e.g. blocking transmission of calls with invalid CLIs and providing free blocking services (CLI display, ACR, Choose to Refuse etc).

However, individuals must be allowed to withhold their CLI, otherwise there would be no whistleblowers. Similarly, I don’t want to be bombarded with pestering calls for years afterwards if I phone around for insurance quotations but don’t buy.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

I think we are pretty much agreed with all of that. It’s getting the government to make the necessary enforcement laws. Unfortunately, most of the government comprises technophobes or MPs with an interest in supporting these practices. And then of course, there’s all big companies that have the clout to pay for ‘professional’ lobbyists (something else that I hate about how the government works).

At least we have Which? and a couple of other on line helpers.

Profile photo of Castle
Member

So it’s just marketing calls then; if they call it a survey or an information call then they don’t have show their number or have I misunderstood the article.!

Member

The nature of the information collected, whether general and anonymised or specific to the called party, makes a difference as to whether the purported “survey” is really “direct marketing” and therefore not legal.

Profile photo of Castle
Member

Totally agree with you Ian,; but as the article reads it would be up to the nuisance caller to determine whether they were making a marketing call or not. If they think it’s a survey then there’s no need to disclose their number; clearly this cannot be acceptable.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Column 914 states “They need to obtain prior consent for automated marketing calls, e-mails and fax messages”

I have never knowingly given my consent to automated marketing calls.

Anyone know how you withdraw your consent without it costing you money?

The Ofcom website says you will not be charged if you press a key to speak to someone during one of these calls. If companies can spoof their CLI and con money out of you, I am pretty sure they are more than capable of generating money out of responding to the call.

Profile photo of Castle
Member

1)-The need to obtain consent has been law for 11 years, but the law is never enforced.

2)-As for withdrawing consent; if you know which organisations have legally obtained your phone number, then you can send them an email. Of course it won’t stop those who have obtained your number illegally, most of them will never give you their name and addresses in the first place.

Member
James says:
4 December 2014

I agree 100%

Profile photo of ChrisGloucester
Member

alfa, You say “I have never knowingly given my consent to automated marketing calls”

Well if you ever got a “survey call” and answered just one question you have given that consent. That is how they get around the system and it’s legal, although obviously not in the spirit of the rules.

So don’t do surveys either.

As for withdrawing your consent I don’t know but it makes little difference anyway when most of these nuisance calls come from abroad where they are not bound by our rules.

Like I said elsewhere we an “international call acceptance” on/off switch on our phones.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

The other thing I noticed in the article Column 915, is that we will have to pay for the privilege of seeing who is calling us if it is not provided in our phone package.

I would have thought there was as much cost involved in preventing you from seeing the CLI as there is letting you see it.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

This is a really good point. Landline providers have historically surcharged for CLI, yet mobile providers have always provided CLI as standard ever since it was introduced. The only reason to surcharge for CLI is to facilitate a misleading indication of price of the line rental. If an operator excludes a surcharge that most people need to pay (for a basic feature of the telephone system), then it makes the line rental look cheaper than it really is. For example, why not also surcharge for the facility to make the telephone ring when there’s an incoming call? This would be equally as unreasonable. Ofcom should clamp down on this silly surcharge, which is not objectively justified.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

NFH – You could equally well argue that no-one should have to pay to retrieve voicemail on a mobile, which can work out very expensive for PAYG users. Both CLI and voicemail are useful services and there is the opportunity for service providers to make money from those who use these services.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

I would have thought the CLI would travel down the line along with the phone call whereas retrieving a voicemail would involve making an additional phone call.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

My point is simply that CLI is a useful service and provides the opportunity to make an additional charge. The point in Mark’s introduction is not about whether CLI is chargeable but the need for those involved in direct marketing being required to make their number available rather than withholding it.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

CLI is not a service, but data. The data containing the caller’s number is carried on every phone call. Even if the caller withholds their number, the caller’s operator only sends a flag to withhold it and the data is still carried; it is then up to the called party’s operator to hide the data from the called party. One service that I use for incoming calls doesn’t always hide it, so I can see most or all of the caller’s number even when it’s withheld.

It is absurd for operators to deliberately hide a caller’s number from the called party on the basis that the called party hasn’t paid a surcharge. This data is carried anyway and is a standard part of the telecommunications systems used to deliver calls.

Voicemail is an additional service and is not a standard part of the telephone system. Personally I hate voicemail, both for myself and when I call other people. I would be delighted if operators started charging for it, but they won’t do so because it allows them to earn termination revenue for unconnected calls.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

As I see it, it is a service because it is charged for. From BT’s website: “You’ll need caller display compatible equipment to use this service.” If companies can make money for providing extra features they usually will.

I cannot understand why smartphones don’t record messages, making voicemail services unnecessary.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

CLI is not a service, but a built-in always-on feature of the public switched telephone network. Hiding the output of this feature from users who don’t agree to pay a surcharge does not mean it is an additional or separate service.

I cannot understand why smartphones don’t record messages, making voicemail services unnecessary” – If a smartphone doesn’t receive the call, because it is out of coverage or switched off for example, then how would it be able to record a message? This is why voicemail is implemented at the network level. Voicemail is very much an additional service, although one that I wish was not enabled by default.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

OK, let’s call it caller display, which is referred to as a service by BT and my phone provider. If you are not happy about then contact Ofcom. I’m trying to use everyday language that most people will understand.

Voicemail messages could be relayed to the handset when it is switched on a signal is available, just as text messages are.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

I used the term CLI as this was the term used above in the main article. Call it “caller display” if you prefer, but it’s the same thing. But it is still not a service, but a standard feature of the telephone system that is always active. There is no justification for the called party’s network to deliberately suppress this data from the called party by virtue of the called party not paying a surcharge. The mobile networks have never engaged in these silly CLI surcharges, so why do fixed line providers?

Profile photo of NFH
Member

Voicemail messages could be relayed to the handset when it is switched on a signal is available, just as text messages are“. The GSM standard doesn’t allow for this, whereas it does allow for SMS text messages. For such a system as you describe to be implemented, the networks would have to develop apps to receive the voice messages with push notifications and delivery over IP. This is far too complex and expensive to implement, when the customer can simply call the voicemail number.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

@wavechange – I’ll put this another way: Imagine if your e-mail provider surcharged you in order to see the sender’s e-mail address. In the same way that CLI data is included on every phone call, the sender’s e-mail address is included on every e-mail. It is equally absurd for a provider to levy a surcharge in order for the provider to refrain from hiding CLI data as it is to refrain from hiding an e-mail sender’s data.

Profile photo of william
Member

And to think email addresses can be spoofed too. Making it an even more apt example.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks for the information about how voicemail works on mobiles, NFH. It can be expensive for PAYG users, but thankfully it can be switched off.

I very much support all phone users having free access to Caller Display because it can help identify nuisance calls.

I assume that some companies charge for Caller Display on some tariffs simply because it is an opportunity to make more money, and that’s how business often works. Fortunately my phone service provider does not charge on any tariff. I’m going to carry on referring to Caller Display as a service because that is how it is commonly described, but thanks for letting us know how it works.

Member
David N says:
11 December 2014

Absolutely agree with you on CLI.

Not only is a network feature sold as a ‘service’, but the markup is huge.

Openreach’s wholesale price to telecomms retailers is £1.50 per quarter – my provider marks that up by 100%.

And Openreach’s pricing is itself open to question – £6 p.a. for Call Display – essentially a bit of software – vs £93 p.a . for copper, networks & switches

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

From Mark’s introduction: “However, after we wrote to six leading trade associations requesting that they meet the terms of the voluntary Direct Marketing Association code of practice on CLI, we only got a positive response from one of them. ”

I think it is time for us to decide whether this country should be run by the government or by companies. I do not know why direct marketing by telephone was allowed in the first place, but the problem of nuisance calls has grown in recent years and must be stopped.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

Reading 951 [which usefully could have been named as a link to Hansard] I note our European partners are much more on the ball with deciding what areas of EU legislation need tweaking.

I wonder why Germany is so much further ahead of us in dealing with this matter. And in fact how their legislation works and can we learn from this, and what is being considered in Italy and France.

As a technical point regarding rogue calling I would imagine it would not be impossible for telecomms companies to identify mass-dialing and check it against approved numbers. Making Telecomm providers somewhat liable to fines might encourage them to look at spam type behaviour and preventitive measures.

Profile photo of william
Member

With regard to the question of someone giving consent to be contacted. It should be a legal requirement that when requested a calling company MUST be able to provide written proof that consent was given. Failure to do so should be the same as no consent was given.

Profile photo of NFH
Member

Agreed. And they should also have to disclose the precise source of your name and number. When I received these calls (note the past tense as I’m now enjoying having no landline), I would ask where they got my name and number. They would often reply “It’s in our database”, to which I would ask them where the database had obtained my details, and the conversation went on fruitlessly. If callers don’t disclose this, then it makes it very difficult to identify the root culprit and put a stop to it.

Member
MOSICLE says:
4 December 2014

Our problem is these wretched calls from India perporting to be from Microsoft or Windows!!! We have even gone ex directory for a new number and still they come. I was caught up in a scam by these criminals and so am very wary. If you challenge them they soon hang up, The problem is that we can not ignore withheld numbers as we have many calls from Doctors and Hospitals so can not take that risk.
Surely something can be done to block calls from abroad or even just India!!!

Profile photo of Martin Bostock
Member

I noticed above the priceless quote:

“other than those who have a legitimate reason to withhold it (such as the police or the NHS).”

It’s time we ditched this deferential attitude. Why should the police and the NHS, both of them our servants and not our masters, have such a privilege? How come it is ‘legitimate’ for them to conceal their number?

No-one who hides their identity gets through my filters now and I don’t care whether it is the Archbishop of Canterbury, no number, no connection.

Profile photo of bib1
Member

To protect our privacy.

Profile photo of Martin Bostock
Member

Oh? How? It just means that another two groups of ‘mystery callers’ get to plague us creating concerns about who called and why. Then, no doubt, local authorities, the Royal Mail, and any other organisation that considers itself to be a branch of the security service will ask for the same privilege.

No thanks, I want the same protection of privacy as I enjoy in my garden and on my doorstep. No identity, no entry.

If something the Police want to say is so important then it can be put in an envelope and posted. If the ‘NHS’ wish to contact me privately then likewise.

A requirement to disclose should apply to all organisations not just a narrow definition of ‘marketing calls’ or, otherwise, we will get another decade or two of ‘surveys’, ‘focus group calls’, ‘liaison cals’, requests for charitable giving etc. etc. When will people learn that organisations of all types simply cannot be trusted?

The next step of course is to tighten up on the data underlying their assault on our privacy and peace.

Profile photo of ChrisGloucester
Member

alfa, You say “I have never knowingly given my consent to automated marketing calls”

Well if you ever got a “survey call” and answered just one question you have given that consent. That is how they get around the system and it’s legal, although obviously not in the spirit of the rules.

So don’t do surveys either.

As for withdrawing your consent I don’t know but it makes little difference anyway when most of these nuisance calls come from abroad where they are not bound by our rules.

Like I said elsewhere we need an “international call acceptance” on/off switch on our phones.

Profile photo of ChrisGloucester
Member

I agree Martin. The Police and the NHS withhold their numbers so they don’t come up on caller display. So one might answer a withheld number just in case it’s say the hospital only to find Mumbai calling again. Almost defeats the whole principle of caller ID doesn’t it?

There is no reason the Police and NHS could not have “Police” or “NHS” come up on the caller display screen rather than “withheld”. It would protect the number they called from just as well and cut down the instances of us actually answering the Mumbai nuisance calls.

Member

There is every reason to not let other members of the household know that someone from the Police, NHS, ChildLine and a myriad other organisations is calling.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Very true. We must be careful what we wish for sometimes.

Profile photo of Castle
Member

Maybe we could ban overseas “withheld” numbers to start with and see where that takes us.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

If you don’t want the ID display, turn it off or don’t subscribe to the service.

CID must be compulsory.

Profile photo of bib1
Member

Child Abuse Help Line?
Alcoholics Anonymous?
Pregnancy Test results?
Domestic Violence/Abuse?
Samaritans?

Can you think ….. of others?

Many folk need protection from others in their household.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

Ridiculous. Samaritans, AA, etc does not appear as such unless YOU program such into your telephone’ directory. All that displays is the number. So it’s an idiotic reason to not have compulsory CID.Even if the phone doesn’t display Samaritans or AA, what stops someone else answering the phone first?

Profile photo of bib1
Member

“Ridiculous”? “Idiotic”?

If the number’s on your display, you can Google it.

If they leave a message “Hello, sorry to have missed you. Thank you for calling the Child Abuse Helpline …..”.

And yes, someone else answering the phone and impersonating the abused child IS a problem …. a very, very real problem.

It is NOT something that should be trivialised by our discussion of being annoyed by salesmen.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

You know little about the procedures in use by childline.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Guys, let’s be polite to each other even on these very sensitive topics.

Profile photo of bib1
Member

terfar, yes you’re quite right – I know nothing about their procedures – I just used it as an example for dramatic effect.

But I’m always ready to learn and I’d be very interested to hear how they deal with the problem.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

Well I won’t tell you how they ensure that a child isn’t compromised that way for obvious reasons. But your argument was flawed because in your example CallerID would not have prevented that message being left. Be assured that it would never happen with or without Caller ID.

Think about any organisation listed: would they call a client and leave a compromising message on an answerphone or pass on any private information to another person? In fact, if the correct person answers the phone, seeing the correct callerID displayed would give some reassurance about its legitimacy.

CallerID is no different than writing a letter to someone: would you write a letter without adding your name and address? So why would you expect to call someone and remain anonymous?

Profile photo of terfar
Member

Your correct. I should not have been so confrontational. But I have always had a bee in my bonnet about the way the government backed down on caller ID. I think that rejecting it is being a luddite!

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Just had an email from Which? giving 2 options – both that nuisance call firms should be fined.

I think Which? should send this again with::
OPTION 3 – THE LAW SHOULD BE CHANGED TO BAN COLD CALLING COMPLETELY.

Sorry to shout Patrick, but nobody seems to be listening.

Member

the service providers could be made to provide a facility to bar incoming calls from specific numbers free of charge, this facility together with mandatory CLI could put a stop to most unwanted calls, now we just need a method to tackle incoming calls that show up as ” international”

Profile photo of reach.me@btinternet.com
Member

Since buying this http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/cpr-call-blocker-n46qc
I no longer get hundreds of these calls and when I do a push of a button adds them to the list.
I can also add missed calls from numbers like 000012345678 apparently they are computer phone lines

We shouldn’t have to prove they are a nuisance, they should by law have to join a system where people can register if they don’t want any sales calls! with big fines if they do!

Member

Something happened yesterday which I had not experienced before yesterday was a cold call by text on my landline. It was identified as an 0845 number and a prerecorded message from BT came on saying we had a text message. The message turned out to be from a gambling company offering free betting. Where had this come from? Is this a new way of side-stepping future legislation about cold calling?

Member
Gerry says:
11 December 2014

This is a service that allows text messages to be sent to a landline phone and automatically converted to speech.

Call 0800 587 5252 from the same line to opt out of receiving any Text To Speech alerts or to set curfew times between which these alerts will not be sent.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

You’re late demanding that CLI be mandatory. I argued right from inception that optional CLI was blatantly wrong. The ‘freedom of privacy do-gooders’ and telephone businesses were in cahoots and lobbied Parliament to force BT into making it an option.

Despite all the positive arguments put forward – particularly the emergency/safety argument – the lobbyists again won the day. One wonders just who was bribed to make such a crass decision.

So decades of aggrieved and abused telephone users have followed, some people losing large sums of money all because of the do-gooders. They should step forward and pay everyone affected compensation.

Profile photo of ChrisWallis
Member

I am tempted to buy one of the nuisance-blocking phones reviewed in the December issue. But I am discouraged because legitimate callers who don’t enable CLI will be blocked- with no indication to them of why.

It would seem to me to be a simple engineering matter to add to these phones the facility to play a recorded message, saying “I do not accept unidentified calls. If you really need to talk to me, call again, revealing your number.”

Why doesn’t a manufacturer offer this?

Profile photo of terfar
Member

@Chris

Most telephones with an answerphone facility let you record your own message. So leaving a message such as,

“I do not answer calls not using Caller ID, so please leave your name, number and business. If you are legitimate, we will call you back.”

CLI should be mandatory for all regardless of race, religion, etc. There’s absolutely no valid excuse not to use CLI.

Profile photo of william
Member

@Chris, Was one of the phones reviewed the BT 8500 ? The default for withheld numbers is they must announced themselves if they don’t the phone doesn’t ring. Bit of a pain for the genuine caller, but hey, UNBLOCK your number then. Simples.

Member
Terry riley says:
6 December 2014

I had an automated phone call about government insulation grants which for once I actually listened to up to the point where it offered the option to unsubscribe but then it cut off before it gave the number. This is a classic example of how these firms will simply flout any potential future restrictions that are not legally enforced by large fines.
I did have a cold call recently asking if I was fed up with unsolicited calls and offered me a device to intercept them and block them. I did find it amusingly different especially since they could put themselves out of business in the long run.

Member
Sheena Galston says:
6 December 2014

My elderly father says to callers, “I am 95years old, blind,deaf,lame and skint. ‘Bye, then hung up.

He and my adult son, who has Parkinson’s are both wakened from naps, stagger shakily to the phone and then find it is a sales call.They NEED their sleep and are in danger of falling.
It is beyond me why stronger govermnent action is not taken.

Member
Anne says:
6 December 2014

We leave our answering service on all the time. Some genuine callers (whether companies or friends) do start to leave a message and we can decide whether or not to pick up the phone. Friends know we may be at home. Unsolicited callers generally hang up – they are mainly caller witheld or international out of area.

Profile photo of AlanThomas
Member

Caller display I have had about 20 calls from 01983810085 these arre silent calls but when I tried to call this number does not exist so they can conceal who is calling.

Member
Steve GS says:
1 April 2017

Loads of them do this. It should be just as illegal to falsify your CLID as it is to conceal it. Likewise ‘legit’ organisations such as doctors, councils, police, banks etc. should be prevented from withholding their numbers.

Member
Brian M says:
6 December 2014

It just amazes me that these companies cannot see the utter pointlessness of calling someone who has registered with the TPS to prevent such calls. Isn’t it obvious that the call will be an utter waste of time in respect of achieving any sale when it is so evident that the call is unwelcome.

Profile photo of Josh25
Member

There doesn’t seem to have been any mention of unwanted calls from other than marketing calls.
Over a year ago I started getting 2 or 3 calls a day with a recording starting “This is Mike”…followed by unintelligible mumble. I never listen to automatic calls and clear down. These calls come from various UK numbers also withheld, unavailable and international.
Looking up the numbers on-line it seems I’m far from alone and that the calls come from a company called MMF of Leeds which is a debt collector and the calls threaten they will pay you a visit if they don’t get a response. I have no debts and presume these calls are fishing and they only have a number and no other information.
These calls are deliberate harassment every day and need to be made illegal.

Profile photo of Castle
Member

In virtually all of the MMF cases they have been given the wrong phone number by somebody. If you tell them to stop and they don’t, then it’s harassment and a Data Protection Act breach as well.

Profile photo of Martin Bostock
Member

Yes Castle, of course it is, but the problem then is in getting anyone to do their duty. West Midlands Police told me that such behaviour is ‘not a crime’ and flatly refused to do anything or to provide a letter to enable me to get my service provider to disclose who was calling me up to five times a day whilst witholding their number. No number or identity and no-one else is interested. How many days of my time am I supposed to use doing the jobs of all the agencies and regulators who are failing to enforce the few rules that we do have?

Josh, also above, is right, marketing calls are only a part of the problem. My parents were besieged by charities, financial scammers, debt collectors (who would simply not accept that they had had no loans and had not ordered from mail order catalogues and not paid the bill) in addition to the usual sellers of everything under the sun.

The ONLY answer is to make privacy and control regulations centred on the receiver and not the caller. It is no different and should be no different to the principles and laws that apply to visitors entering property and standing on the doorstep.

Profile photo of Castle
Member

Martin, in my case I actually issued a county court claim against MMF for damages and it was settled at mediation. But of course, as you say, getting anybody to take up a criminal prosecution is a totally different story even if you know who’s calling..

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D. Dowdell says:
6 December 2014

If my ‘phone’s display says ‘Withheld’ or ‘Out of area’ I just put the phone down.
If the display shows a number not in the handset’s Phonebook, I usually answer it, but whatever name the caller asks for, I reply, ‘Just a minute – I’ll get him’, and lay the ‘phone down (without ringing off). A couple of minutes later I do hang up, assuming I’ve wasted some of HIS (or her) time.

Member
RayG says:
6 December 2014

This is a step in the right direction. I seem to have come up with a simple, no cost (to me) solution. All calls to my landline are answered by my answerphone after two rings. My message tells callers that all calls to my number are screened and if the call is for marketing or research purposes it will not be answered. If they do need to speak to me leave a message with their phone number and I will call them back. Nuisance calls have dropped from 5 or 6 a day to 2 or 3 a week! Its been worth the ridicule from friends.

Member
Robert Christie says:
7 December 2014

I had an early morning call (07.29). I was told – You have lots of clutter on your computer, let me take it over and I will clear it out for you. Well thanks for that I have had lots of trouble with it I said. Are you on your computer now? In bed I said. Well go switch it on and I will take over. That is unlikely to happen any time soon as what you may be trying to look for my bank details. I am 76 years old still reasonably sharp ,and have to be keep my money safe.

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

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That is an example of a scam run by criminals, one that is designed to defraud you.

It is run by people that are not complying with any of the laws relating to usage of the telephone, and never will.

Member
Sandie28 says:
7 December 2014

I agree that CLI should be free, and enabled by default. Also the penalties for making scam/nuisance calls should be much more severe. I know there are plenty of call blocking phones and gadgets on the market (I have a Panasonic one, which is brilliant), but I really worry about the elderly/infirm and those who are not as sharp as they once were for whatever reason.

I have an elderly relative who needs her phone, and can just about manage to press the buttons to ‘dial’ a number, but even putting a name and phone number in the phone’s address book is pretty much beyond her now. She could never cope with the complexities of a call blocking phone, and I am not always around to help. I do hope the Government will take a hard line with these scammers, and good luck to Which in their efforts. A very important and worthwhile cause.

Member
JohnB says:
7 December 2014

I use TrueCall and have done so for about 4 years.

This enables you to reject incoming calls from lists built up over time.

However it does NOT stop incoming calls from callers who withhold their number.

I hope we will get CLI firmly enforced some time soon!

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When will our legislators and champions wake up and get a grip. I’ve just read the note and links in my Which? The Weekly Scoop and I’m appalled at what i can only describe as the wilful ignorance and willingness to put up with misinformation by vested interests and interference or possibly misinterpretation by/of the EU Privacy Directive.

As NFH and others have pointed out the CLID is data, not a ‘service’ and does not entail a cost of any kind to the Telco – except that we might choose to refuse to accept a call and that would mean they would not get the rather small payment that they get weh we answer a call. Yet, there it is in Hansard, the assertion that the Telcos are put to cost and trouble in providing this spurious service. They are not.

Then, even worse in my view, their Lordships were told that the EU Privacy Directive dictates that the calling party should have privacy and it is terribly weighty matter making exceptions to that ‘rule’. Sorry your Lordshits I think that is the wrong way round. It is we who are bombarded with calls that we cannot identify who require privacy and not the various interests who have either a suspect reason to cloak their identity or who think they are some kind of ‘secret service’ who should have the privacy.

As for ‘requiring companies making direct marketing calls to use CLID’ well, that alone will have a miniscule effect. Every reputable company that I know already does disclose because they would like you to ring back and continue the dialogue to a sale.

It is the rest, all organisations of any kind, who should be made to send their CLID. That includes charities (a major pest for my very elderly parents), public sector bodies, police and regulatory bodies, banks and financial institutions. Otherwise two things will happen. Many organisations that presently pester us will simply claim that they are not making a marketing call, merely soliciting donations, conducting a survey, disseminating government information (as businesses are now with the RHI) etc. etc.

This will do nothing for my sister in law who has two elderly relatives about whom she might receive emergency calls at any time and who has to make multiple calls to find out if a call she unavoidably missed was – the hospital, the surgery, the nurse, the care home, the sheltered housing warden – all these people cloak their numbers and all but the nursing home frequently fail to leave a message either because they do not know that their CLID is switched off or in the mistaken belief that they are the only ones to do this.

Privacy should be about we, the people, in our homes and not about the EU or our own government dishing out ‘privacy’ to organisations. We should work outward from that and think very hard about exceptions. Indeed, having thought hard I cannot think of any organisation that I consider to have a right or need to hide their number.

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Hi all, today the Which?-led Nuisance Calls Task Force announced its recommendations, including holding senior executives to account if companies break cold call laws. You can read more about the 15 recommendations here: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/know-the-issue/

We’ve also invited Communications Minister Ed Vaizey to update you all on what the Government is doing about nuisance calls. You can talk to him here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/nuisance-calls-task-force-recommendations-ed-vaizey/

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A very interesting article on reputable companies farming out “debts” to an agency who then bombard you with calls:
http://www.mukaumedia.co.uk/becky-fuller-01256-306797-cars/

I trust that the Govt. task-force is on the case with this abuse.

Member
Gerry says:
11 December 2014

There’s seldom any valid reason for the NHS to withhold their number. If they write to you, the envelope bears a prominent NHS logo, so anyone in the household can at a glance see who it’s from; withholding the source is obviously not considered to be an issue for written communications. Why should phone calls be treated any differently, especially as you have to call back or search online to establish the caller’s name?

The exception is if a healthcare professional calls from their residential number or mobile: it’s then rightly withheld because it would cause havoc if patients routinely called doctors’ personal numbers when they were busy with other patients or off duty.

Even then, a ‘presentation number’ could be used, which if the call were returned would say that the NHS had failed to reach them but would call them again if necessary.

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Gerry. The health professional’s cli should display either a secretary’s number or the general surgery phone number. There is never a valid reason not to display a cli.

Member

Telephone service providers must be made responsible for stopping unlawful calls, and provide imformation to the regulator oboist those who flout the law,I fail to see why I pay for a system that ignores my specific instructions, and then what’s to charge extra to give me some protection.
A company providing protection would attract masses of new customers.

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Let’s face it, we only get these nuisance calls because they generate sales leads for companies that operate in the UK.

It seems to me that Which could stop such calls pretty quick if they found out the names of the companies who were paying for the nuisance calls – name them and shame them. Better still name and shame the owners, CEOs etc – and publish their home phone numbers.

Come on Which, how about it?

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Good stuff Richard p but lets also have fines!

Which? is actually complicit in being the lead in a task force that was bound to favour some watered down system rather than strong action to stamp out the menace. If you read the 27 page report you will see it implicitly accepts that there is a right to call people at home once consent has by some means been obtained.

I think most people would think that in fact that nobody should ring you out of the blue to sell you anything other than following a very specific request by you – which is time limited say for a month after the rquest is made.

http://www.staticwhich.co.uk/documents/pdf/nuisance-calls-task-force-report-388316.pdf

Is this the danger of a policy of being involved with legislation at the Governments behest where the consumers voice is meant to be articulated by Which? but in fact is seduced/neutered into being Chair of a cttee where a consensus will be the aim – and representatives of the industry are involved.

” Attendees
Richard Lloyd, Executive Director, Which? (chair)
John Mitchison, Head of Preference Services, Compli
ance and Legal, Direct Marketing Association
Jan Smith, External Affairs Director, Call Credit
Anne Marie Forsyth, Chief Executive, The Customer C
ontact Association
Kevin Rousell, Head of Claims Management Regulation
, Ministry of Justice
Fiona Lennox, Executive Director, The Communication
s Consumer Panel
Steve Wood, Head of Policy Delivery, Information Co
mmissioner’s Office
Lynn Parker, Director of Consumer Protection, Ofcom
Mark McLaren, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Manag
er, Which?
Thomas Oppé, Task Force Adviser, Which?
Michael Bristow, Marketing Operations Manager, Barc
laycard

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Thanks for the link Dieseltaylor. Though I appreciate the effort that Which? is putting into getting rid of nuisance calls, I agree with you that their approach is not strong enough.

As I have said several times the only solution that is likely to work is to suspend the phone service of companies that make unsolicited calls.

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Ian says: