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Nuisance calls & texts: the government has heard your calls

Calling Time campaign phone

Almost 82,000 of you have called for action on nuisance calls and texts. And the government has finally heard you loud and clear – it’s announced a crackdown on this menace. Do the government’s plans go far enough?

In a new strategy paper called Connectivity, Content and Consumers, the government has announced its plans to clamp down on nuisance calls and texts.

So what does the government propose? For starters, it says that it will implement two of the key asks from our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls & Texts campaign:

1. It will be made easier for Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to share data about nuisance calling companies.

2. It will reduce the level of distress that the ICO must prove before it can take enforcement action – nuisance calls will only have to be annoying, rather than causing ‘substantial harm’.

These changes alone may lead to more effective enforcement action against the worst perpetrators of nuisance calls and texts. And even more rule breakers may face fines if all of us report the calls and texts we’ve had by using the new Which? complaints tool.

Stepping up to nuisance callers

Rightly, the government also wants the industry to do more. Initially, this will focus on stopping nuisance callers from concealing their phone numbers, which at the moment makes it very hard for people to report the caller. Ofcom is working hard with the industry on a technical fix so that a phone number can’t be hidden, in a similar way to how IP addresses are identifiable online.

The government has said that it will go further if necessary, even to the point of introducing new laws that will require call centres to be licensed. The door has also been left open to improve the system of how people give consent to be contacted. However, we want to see the government go further and faster by strengthening the law on consent and the use of personal data. For example, there should be an expiry date on the consent you’ve given to be contacted by third parties, and it should be easier for you to withdraw this consent.

This action from the government cannot come soon enough for the 85% of people who are bombarded by nuisance calls and texts. Still, this isn’t the end of the story. We’ve now got to make sure that the action promised is put into effect. While some of the changes can be made by tweaking existing legislation, we’ll be supporting Mike Crockart MP’s Private Member’s Bill as another legislative vehicle for the government to use this November.

So what do you think of the government’s planned changes to take on the scourge of nuisance calls and texts? Do they go far enough?

Comments
Profile photo of william
Member

Any chance you could redesign your report a nuisance call page, so that the bit for actually reporting a call appears much sooner. As there’s a very long wait for that bit of the screen to be displayed. Or have a separate screen without the you can join our campaign here stuff on it as well.

I’ve just reported a call to ofcom and as usual the ofcom webpage randomly takes you back to step 1 , it never remembers any of the same details I’ve typed in dozens of times. Seems like companies really don’t want people to complain about nuisance calls.

And as for the number that called me whocallsme is currently listing 45 pages of peoples comments about this number. They know how to get their webpage up the listings, why can’t ofcom or the ico do that too, then maybe more people would be reporting calls where it matters instead of on whocallsme

Profile photo of william
Member

Oh never mind, I see what the problem is, you’ve outsourced that part of the screen and are using a widget from http://production-which-waktions.herokuapp.com/ hence the pause in getting that bit displayed. So maybe just look at the suggestion about having a screen to report calls with no other stuff on it

Regards

Member
Edward Grant says:
24 September 2013

I have had unsolicited E-Mails from Thomas Cook sometimes three a week and I would block them but we are going to court in October so I can not ,

Profile photo of suehiggins
Member

for many years now i have been bombarded with these annoying calls which i am still getting and i would honestly say if you are at home these calls can be for most of the day. yes i know its easy to just put the phone down but that depends how they first approach you because they are asking me questions that they already know about me !….. which i find really scary………its not just about loft insulation or P P I anymore its much more personal than that and even when i have hung up on them ….they go and call me straight back ! What concerns me now is that its begining to happen on the internet they seem to know what i am looking for etc and then either it’s pop ups or emails….. but people should be aware of a new nuisance that i have had several times this week via emails which is well known big companies asking me to contact them about my parcel delivery or shopping that i have never used !

Member

Whilst I am registered with TPS it only covers UK calls and this does not always work. The one group of calls that bug me are those survey calls from India in particular which I traced back to Hardia, Allahbad it being the STD code for Phoolpar. I get up to 4 calls a day always around the same time so I guess its computer generated. Rarely does anyone answer, and when they do they represent themselves as a UK Survey company. I ask them to remove us from the system, but it is a waste of breath. My phone provider, Virgin say there is nothing they can do to block the 05000 calls from India. I guess that would block them too!

Profile photo of JohndeRivaz
Member

We have just had a telephone call purportedly from Tesco MasterCard saying there was suspicious activity on the card. It only got as far as my birthday before we realised that it was from liars and probably other undesirables. After giving it the birthday, it said it was wrong and asked me to try again, when it still said it was wrong and they were going to put me though to a customer adviser. Then music played and it said they are really keen to speak, please wait. 20 seconds later, the same thing repeated ad nauseam. Clearly these messages every 20 seconds were lies, because if it was urgent they would have used a proper line.

I hung up. How can I be expected to trust someone who plays me lies repeating every 20 seconds? Lying is wrong. Period. Repeating them does not make them true. I doubt it, but if this was genuine and this message gets back to Tesco MasterCard, I think whoever organised this system should be sacked without references. Lying to customers gives any company a bad reputation.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

John – I think you can be reasonably sure that call had nothing to do with Tesco Mastercard. It was an attempt to get more personal details from you, but, as you say,their system let them down, thank goodness.

My banks and card issuers don’t have my telephone number so if anyone tried that trick I would know it was a fraudster.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

That’s interesting, and an example of one of many ways that may alert us to scams.

I have two credit cards, one with a smaller credit limit that is used routinely and another with a higher limit that is only used for major purchases and may not have been used for months. The first time I made a large purchase there was a message on the answering machine asking me to get in touch if the transaction was not genuine. There were no messages when I made other large purchases a couple of months later.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Actually, I think my bank might have my phone number if they’ve been savvy enough to copy it from my letterhead into their customer data file. Perhaps it wouldn’t occur to the bank to look me up in the phone book.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I am waiting to be told that having my name in the phone book is risky. I have certainly had thousands of nuisance calls to my landline number and three to my mobile, discounting the odd drunk who wanted a taxi. One is in a phone book and registered with TPS, and the other is not.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Compared with other contributors we seem to get extremely few nuisance calls – the answering machine seems to kill them but it is not a call-blocker and is at least fifteen years old. Perhaps not being registered with the TPS helps. My name has been in the phone book for decades in case someone needs to get hold of me. The phone books have been getting thinner and thinner as the number of phone lines has grown – although residential landline phones are now retreating and, to my annoyance, many traders no longer give a landline number. I like to know I am dealing with a firm that has a bricks-&-mortar presence, not the back of a van and a lock-up.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

My landline and mobile phone numbers can be found on a website run (by me) for a charity. They are there as images to prevent them being ‘harvested’ by computer. The only nuisance calls I get on the mobile are from members, press wanting information, often at very short notice. I suspect that many of the scam calls to my landline number are from automated random dialing, on the basis that those who are ex-directory receive nuisance calls.

I presume plumbers etc. advertise mobile numbers so that they can pick them up during the day, although it’s easy to pick up messages from a landline answering machine. The mobile number does not bother me but unless there is a business address I’m not interested.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Yes, the business address is essential, but you rarely see that on the side of a van. If there is a website address that can be a good starting point but they often only show a mobile number. If I see what I think is a good trader working at a property I have sometimes asked the owner after the work was finished what they thought of them and that has produced useful leads. It works both ways: I have people asking me for details of our house painter after a very good performance on our frontage. He works from an unmarked van and doesn’t have a display board; I should have asked him for a supply of business cards. He works for several Cambridge colleges and doesn’t need to advertise.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Wondering why people were still getting caught with scammers still being on the line when they ‘call’ back their banks for confirmation, last week I posted about a test I did that soon got buried in the mass invite.

I initiated a call between my mobile and BT phone.
Then disconnected the call with my mobile.

On my BT phone, I heard clicks that sounded like the call was being disconnected then a continuous tone, but the phone stayed connected clocking up time. After just over 3 minutes, the what sounded like a police siren started up.

I was able to dial another phone number while still connected during that time although the other phone did not register a call.

But all a scammer would have to do is record a dial tone and the victim would be fooled into thinking the call was disconnected.

So calls are not being properly disconnected by BT.

WHY ?????

This type of scam is completely preventable if both parties phones are disconnected immediately one person cuts the call.

Perhaps Which? could ask OFCOM why this very simple solution has not been implemented.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

@ldeitz or @patrick

Can Which? follow this up with Ofcom or ICO please?

Ofcom state:
We make sure that people in the UK get the best from their communications services and are protected from scams and sharp practices…

In July 2013, Ofcom and the ICO agreed a joint action plan to tackle the issue of nuisance calls and help protect consumers.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hi, we’ve just relaunched our nuisance calls tool with a better design – if you have a nuisance call please report it through the tool and we’ll get it direct to Ofcom or ICO dependent on which regulator is right: http://www.which.co.uk/tools/report-a-call-or-text/