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Nuisance calls and texts: we’re dialling up the pressure

Dialling on smartphone

I’ve just come out of a meeting with regulators, industry and government reps to discuss nuisance calls and texts – and I took you all with me. It was my chance to urge them all to take action.

Following on from the launch of our campaign, Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts, we’ve been taking note of the hundreds of comments you’ve left here on Which? Conversation.

It’s our second most popular post Conversation and more than 24,000 of you have voted saying you’re fed up with nuisance calls and texts.

Representing your views on nuisance calls and texts

So at today’s meeting, hosted by Ed Vaizey MP, I spoke on your behalf. Most in the meeting were all too familiar with the problem. As so many of you have made clear, unsolicited calls are more than just a nuisance – they’re also stopping you from from receiving calls about work, your family and even hospital appointments. So many of your comments reflect the seriousness of this problem, such as Caroline’s:

‘I have been off work for two weeks due to [the] fact that my father died and my mother is seriously ill. Every day I receive cold calls regarding PPI despite being ex-directory. This is very distressing. I dive to my phone every time it rings in case it is my mother needing help. I find it disgraceful that these people feel that they have the right to bombard me with calls everyday.’

And Chloe’s:

‘I’ve reached screaming point over automated phone calls. I am self employed and must answer the phone. Often there’s nobody on the line when I’ve run the length of my cottage and hurdled over the cats to pick up.’

Then there’s David’s views on the regulators:

‘The regulatory system does not work. ICO, Ofcom and TPS just play pass the parcel according to the type of call – what sensible person would think that voice, silent, or automated calls should be dealt with in three different ways?’

Two months to go…

You may remember that to launch our campaign, we asked the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Ofcom, the Ministry of Justice and the Office of Fair Trading to set up a joint taskforce within three months to crackdown on nuisance calls and texts.

One month has already passed. Some of the regulators have publicly said that they’re investigating complaints and are serious in taking action against companies that break rules. But we still believe we need a joint taskforce that starts by focusing on targeting PPI and personal injury nuisance calls and texts. According to what you’ve told us, these are the industries you’re most likely to be bothered by, and we think this could be the key to getting action, now.

I urged the regulators to use the powers available to them. For example, the ICO has the power to investigate where nuisance callers get your details from. It’s also very complicated to complain about nuisance calls and texts, so the regulators agreed that they will work with us at Which? to make it easier to complain or register your number to block cold calls.

So, two months to go until our deadline. I’ll keep putting pressure on the regulators and sharing your comments with them. Then it’s over to you. You will be the ones to decide whether you think the regulators’ action has been good enough. In the meantime, keep in touch. Your experiences are key to us hanging up on nuisance calls and texts once and for all.

Are you fed up with nuisance calls and texts?

Yes (100%, 30,130 Votes)

No (0%, 91 Votes)

Total Voters: 30,221

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I have been rung 15 times this month by Motormile Finance (MMF), a debt purchase company based in Leeds. 13 times the call was a pre-recorded message telling me I had not responded to discuss the payment of the debt, and to call another number and quote a reference. I tried phoning the number, 02078706877, but it is unobtainable.

On the 18th April I received an option to transfer the call to an agent, which I did. I spoke to someone in MMF, told her that I was fed up receiving the calls, didn’t have any debt and was registered with the TPS. Also that my number was ex-directory. She said they would remove my number. When I said are you sure, she got stroppy and said that she’d just told me they would.

Today (20th) one of the two calls I received from them said that as I had not contacted them to settle the debt someone would be visiting my home today without an appointment to collect the debt and would break into my home if necessary. From reading about this company on the net, I understand that they have been harrasing hundreds of people as well as threatening them in a similar fashion to myself. No-one from MMF ever visits which I believe is against the law anyway.

Other people without debt, who are also registered with the TPS have complained to the TPS, without any result whatsoever.

From the net I have MMF’s Registered Address, Company Address, Company Number, Licence Number, and the name of their Directors. I wish the TPS would do something about them. I could block the above phone number (and up to 9 other numbers) via my landline provider, but this would cost me £3 a month and I don’t see why I should.

On the other hand I’m so fed up with them phoning nearly every day I might pay if it goes on much longer. I’m also going to try Trading Standards, although I don’t hold out much hope there, and I will be asking my MP what she can do.

As they threatened to break into your house, you should report them to the Police.

The way I deal with nuisance callers is to swear at them as rudely as possible. I’m not an aggressive or rude person, quite the opposite, but given the lack of action from regulators, the only way to vent my frustration at these unlawful callers is to use the rudest language I can think of. I found that after I started doing this, the number of these calls reduced noticeably. If everyone reacted in the same way, these people would find their occupation so unpleasant that they would find another way to earn a living. And these nuisance callers are not “just doing a job”, otherwise one could make the same comment about other unlawful occupations such as burglars.

Bry says:
22 April 2013

It is possible for your service provider to block these numbers (most of them anyway) although they will charge you for the privilege. Choose to refuse is BT retails version, but I guess other providers will offer it too.
As this proves the technology is already there, maybe we should push the service providers to act.

BT nuisance call blocking:
Downside is they charge you for the service and it can only block 10 numbers, link below.


Annie says:
23 April 2013

I always refuse to give my mobile number or give a random false number when refusing is not an option, so I have very little trouble with that. The landline is a problem. The foreign calls wanting to look after my PPI claim (I have none) are annoying. The English ones are mostly double glazing, insulation or solar panels. I am not rude to them because they are probably forced to work there by Government paid employment agencies. They are ordinary people doing a horrible job.

WATCH OUT FOR heavily TV advertised women’s fashion companies who insist on having access to your credit record before you can buy anything, even if you are paying up front and don’t want credit.Why do they want this? The information is worth a lot of money to marketing agencies.

And another thing they need to sort out is people/companies ringing you up and giving a bogus number. Many times if checked a number (1471 and ringing it back) you get sorry that number isn’t recognised. In which case maybe the phone companies shouldn’t be connecting them in the first place.

JohnB says:
25 April 2013

I’ve just discovered another way to answer nuisance calls other than slamming the reviever down. I say “Just a moment please while I switch my recorder on to record this conversation.” Invariably the line goes dead.

don says:
25 April 2013

i get feed up with calls asking me to do a surva,if you do it they then pass on the info to otheres then you get pestered by othere firmes, this hapens quite a lot and is very anioying.

There is (believe it or not) a Westminster MP called MIke Crockhart who is really on the ball with these issues he needs your support by signing his petition http://www.no2nuisancecalls.net/petition?recruiter_id=3099

There is also the National Anti Fraud website http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ tel number 0300 123 2040 THIS SITE DEALS WITH COMPLAINTS ABOUT PHISHING SCAMS SUCH AS ” Your computer has a virus” and they work with the police and they ARE interested

Mike actually wrote a guest post for us on his nuisance call campaign, which you can read and join in here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/mike-crockart-mp-nuisance-sales-calls-silent-unsolicited-texts/ We are of course taking on board all your comments and will campaign on your behalf to get the regulators to take action.

Jonathon Fields says:
25 April 2013

In my view the main issue is a moral one. We seem to have arrived at a point in Thatcherite Britain where making money is the only excuse some people need for totally disregarding the interests of other people, and where greed and exploitation have completely buried any remaining shred of common decency that could be expected of people in any civilised society. These phone calls are just a symptom of a wider malaise which we have seen in the banking industry, and the invasion of privacy , and manipulation truth by the newspaper industry.

Somewhere along the line we must get back some appreciation for sound moral values in our society, and to realise that money has a very limited value in creating a worthwhile and happy society.

Colin Samson says:
25 April 2013

I strongly believe that it is now time for an outright ban on “cold calling”, whether that is by unsolicited telephone calls, unsolicited text messages, unsolicited emails or people calling unsolicited and for commercial reasons at peoples’ homes. ALL cold calling is an unwarranted & unwanted intrusion into peoples’ private lives and deters people from answering their front door/telephone etc. and so unintentionally avoiding contact with people they DO want to speak to.

I am a long-time “double glazing” sales agent, yet I find cold calling absolutely abhorrent.

Brian Carter says:
26 April 2013

I have recently been ‘done’ by TextPlayWin (texts), in effect a ‘competition’ (?) which does not tell you until too late that you will be charged £4.50 per week: this is taken from you before you even read the text. To cancel it you have to text 88770 – there are many others using different numbers and operating a variation of the method. Lots of people complain they are sent multiple texts without their consent for which they are charged!
In my case after cancelling the texts (many people complain their phone calls or texts to stop the scam don’t work) I sent the firm responsible an email demanding my money back. Have had an email back promising me a cheque. Using emails give you written evidence.
For the information of anyone similarly affected the firm behind many of these is Zamano (email: customerservices@zamano.com). This firm has been given massive fines but is still at it.
My advice: Get a phone that displays the caller’s number;
Don’t answer any call you don’t recognise or is unknown or withheld;
Use a message recorder: anyone genuine will have no objection to leaving a message and you can then ring back;
Check numbers with WhoCallsMe website;
Complain to PhonePayPlus.

Like big business tax-avoiders, bankers and newspaper editors, call-centres (“you gave your permission by not ticking something …”) will always find a way around the rules so a law will have no effect.

I just ask them to hang on while I get the person they’ve asked for (which may be me) then leave the phone. Or I will do similar and put the phone near to some music that they can listen to until they get tired.

Forget the law – just fight back.

Gerard says:
26 April 2013

I spoke to ICO about nuisance calls; they were in awe at their success in fining 3 people in 6 months! I receive 6 calls a day! These people are running rings around the ICO, better to scrap the office, save the money and start afresh with an entity less concerned with jobsworth.

We have constant calls asking for “Mrs Mc*****. Two or three a day, usually from someone speaking with an accent I have problems understanding. Once or twice when my OH has picked up the call they have said they’ll take her off their database. I think they were lying! LOL. I have also had a call left on the answerphone for Mrs Mc***** checking she was going to get to her med appointment (and some details of her med condition given!). My OH tried to call back the number, but their answerphone stuff was full. So now not only am I cheesed off that I keep getting calls for this woman, but I’m worried we didn’t manage to leave a message that this is the wrong number with her medical professional (though to be honest I think to call that person a “medical professional” is stretching the bounds of possibility when they left some detail of Mrs Mc****’s med problems on an answerphone message!!!).

Maybe she had our number before? Our telephone is from Virgin Media – is it worth trying to complain to them?

I sympathise with the person above with relatives that they worry about so always answer the phone. My Mother in Law is very frail and in Nursing Home, I worry that a call may be about she’s had a fall so also try rush to phone… But I’m disabled myself, so can’t rush!

It’s time our phones were returned to us, and these phone spammers and scammers were cut off from being able to call us multiple times a day!

James says:
26 April 2013

Even though I am ex-directory I receive at least one nuisance call very day and often as many as 5 or 6. Most are “International” or “Witheld” but many don’t hide their number. I used to report then to the Telephone Preference Service but I’ve given up on that as TPS is totally ineffective. When I asked a recent PPI caller where they had got my details from they quite freely admiited that it was from the Equifax credit reference agency. So much for data protection!

just google the phone No it will tell you who they are and show you how to block them

James says:
30 April 2013

Sorry Jimbo but Googling the number is rarely an option as most nuisance calls hide the number (eg. “witheld” or “international”). Blocking those isn’t an option if you have family abroad or get frequent calls from a hospital or doctor.

Jim says:
7 May 2013

I am ex-directory, TPS registered, computer Silent calls registered, have complained to OFCOM, have come complained to ICO about receiving land line calls for PPI, 70% off debt’s press 5 or 9, calls from Advantis re debt Tel No61782401123, all apparently computer generated.

I never answer any of these as I filter through an answer machine, as they caused so much distress when my 90 year old sister was extremely ill. Yet still they persist.

I have had my latest mobile phone for 3 years now with no problem. I then give my number to ARGOS for a delivery, unlike me as I usually give the land line number, within four days I have received a text regarding the 70% off debt from +44 7767 169006. Accidental or sell on information??
Computer checks indicate indicates the number is from the Isle of Man

I think OFCOM /ICO need to get their act together or get off the tax payers payroll
Angry very

I have received 41 cold calls since the 4 March having checked my callers list. This is about 4 cold calls out of every 5 calls. I am registered with TPS. I do not talk to any of the cold callers but they continue to call. Perhaps the ICO could request for volunteers from the TPS register for their phones to be remotely monitored to identify the miscreants. If a law was brought in to make it compulsory for all companies to filter their calling list to exclude all registered with TPS then it would be possible to fine ( or shut down ) those not complying.

I believe that these two measures would put the ICO in charge of controlling the situation with minimal onus put upon affected individuals reporting each cold call.

Redballoon, I sympathise, I contacted my Tel provider Tiscali and reported the numbers which had rung me and they have just replied to tell me that they haven’t rung me sufficient times to be a nuisance!!!. So that is the end of that avenue of complaint leaving a change in the law as a last resort.
AND below is how it MIGHT get done

Just to reiterate that there IS AN MP who is trying to do something to change things for us but he NEEDS SUPPORT. If you can encourage your friends & family to sign up to his web petition it will help.
HERE IS THE LINK http://www.no2nuisancecalls.net/?recruiter_id=3099
His name is Mike Crockhart and he has already contributed to this website.

I was really impressed at the fact that when I wrote to him not only did his secretary reply but he also emailed me from his personal email address.

Odd that an MP isn’t using the governments epetition site for his own petition. I wonder if he knows something we don’t.

Could be that his predated and prompted the government one?. However maybe individual MP who communicates with members of the public is more likely to tell us what is going on.

Ned says:
14 May 2013

It’s all too convenient for telephone providers to say that their hands are tied by regulators, they should be fined £1 for each and every complaint from their long suffering customers….. they would soon find a way to prevent these calls.

It seems pretty obvious that all the regulators are ni more than toothless tigers. I reckon I must get 4 or 5 nuisance calls a week. I try to report them, but get shunted around the web as it is difficult to work out which regulator to report them to.

Also, I have noticed an increasing use of false telephone numbers being displayed, presumably to stop them being traced by the regulators. The moment you ask them to confirm the number they hang up. My phone will block up to 30 numbers, but I keep having to delete the old ones.

Unless they are from criminal organisations,it strikes me that even the international calls (mainly from India) must stem from British companies. Why can not the Government simply make the practice illegal, with a prison senetnce for the MD of any company that breaches the rules?