/ Technology

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: why we’re blocking withheld numbers

Man looking at phone

On 16 May it will be a legal requirement for companies to provide a valid number when they call you. Here’s Baroness Neville-Rolfe to explain why.

Nuisance calls are irritating. So irritating in fact that nearly 170,000 complaints were made to the regulator – the Information Commissioner’s Office – on this issue last year alone.

We’ve already made it easier for rogue companies to be fined by reducing the need for the regulator to prove that substantial damage and distress has been caused by the calls. We’re also spending £1/2 million to provide call-blocking devices to vulnerable people.

Isolated and desperate

But this phenomenon can be far worse than a nuisance. In some cases people are being bombarded with confusing or aggressive calls. Some are conned into handing over money and others feel forced to unplug their phone.

This is maddening under the best of circumstances, but the phone is some people’s only form of communication, so they can be left totally isolated, desperate and at risk.

This has to stop.

Mandatory caller display

That’s why the Government is changing the law. Companies that make cold calls will have to show caller identification.

That means you can refuse to pick up a call if you don’t recognise the number. And if a company harasses you, you can take down their number and report them to the Information Commissioner’s Office. It can hit offenders with fines of up to £500,000. You can also report offenders to Ofcom, which can impose fines of up to £2m.

We’re sending a clear message to rogue direct marketing companies – nuisance calls are unacceptable and we will not hesitate to take action against the companies behind them.

Nuisance calls are a serious issue, which is why we have taken serious action

This is a guest contribution by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Intellectual Property. All opinions are her own, not necessarily those of Which?

Comments
Member

Why doesn’t the Government have the balls to change the law to ALL COLD CALLING IS ILLEGAL?

And while they are at it, make BUYING AND SELLING OF ALL PERSONAL DATA ILLEGAL.

What difference is showing a caller id going to make? Many numbers are not genuine, so how does the Government plan to identify them. How are you going to stop a company having many legal caller ids and rotating them so they are not considered a harassment.

These days, you cannot trust any cold caller is who they say they are and the end intention of these calls is to get money out of you one way or another.

Member
Ian says:
4 May 2016

Seeing a number that you do not recognise is no more useful than seeing no number at all. The only time that seeing a number proves useful is when it is one that you already recognise.

The new rules will do nothing to cut cold calls. To be clear, the new rules require those who are breaking the law by making nuisance calls to reveal their number in order to make it easier to apprehend them.

Total nonsense.

Member
Serial Complainer says:
16 December 2016

Many Cold Callers are now using ‘Virtual Telephone Numbers’, (such as provided by ‘VirtelUK’) these get around the law and call blocking equipment by providing a false number, often a ‘one-off’ which will appear as ‘Unobtainable’ if re-dialled . This renders the recent law completely ineffective. A far more intelligent approach is needed.

Member

SC my callblocker blocks “unavailable ” numbers , “0” numbers -withheld numbers -international/out of area -VOIP/IP rogue callers -spam faxes-skype-PPI calls-number blasts -area codes-silent calls etc. I do agree its time the government puts an end to this but money counts first.

Member

The Government could also enforce all telephone companies showing caller ids for free.

Member

Most already do – TalkTalk & BT for example. You will have to ask for it as an ‘extra’, but the cost should be zero. Don’t forget though, you need a phone that can display a caller’s number – the cheapest don’t have that facility.

Member

The cost is only zero with BT if you pay for line rental a year in advantage.

Member
Ian says:
5 May 2016

If it is a number you do not recognise, seeing it gives you no more information than no number at all. This is looking at the wrong end of the problem.

If the caller insists you look at the number as proof the call is from e.g. your bank, then the CLI is probably fake and the person on the line is likely a scammer.

Tell me again how seeing a string of digits tells you anything at all?

Member
Sheena Galston says:
30 April 2016

The call I received at 10.39 today showed only that it was from an international number. I have to answer as my son and my only grand children are in Australia and that comes up when they phone, and they have problems just now.
The caller was from a charity for the disabled and she had a Scottish accent (As I have) I did 1471 but no number was shown. How can I deal with that ! ?

Member

Sheena,
Have you tried using Skype that is completely free using the internet? Both ends just need a computer or tablet with microphone and speakers/headphones. Laptops and tablets tend to have them built in these days.

You have no way of knowing whether a caller saying they are a charity is legitimate so treat them the same as any cold caller.

Member

Every time Alfa (or anyone else) suggests that cold calling should be made illegal there is a lot of support, yet it is still LEGAL for companies to make calls unless we opt out. Like Alfa, I want a ban on all unsolicited calls from companies but a first step would be make calling opt-in. Why is our lives ruled by companies?

Member
David says:
2 May 2016

I am not sure that your phone provider can identify the difference between a commercial or residential caller. If you block calls were the CLI (Telephone number) is withheld or even the TPS service, then you can sometimes prevent family who are ex-directory from calling you. OR business that you do business with from calling you.
Most of the nuisance calls we get are from overseas were the regulation makes no difference at all.
If you have relatives abroad and want to 1. reduce costs 2. stop answering annoying marketing calls, then use either Google Hangouts or Skype. The applications are available on mobile devices, ipads, tablets, PC’s and laptops. For them to be cost effective both users need to be on WiFi.
IF BT/Openreach/Network Operators/Government wanted to block these nuisance calls they could easily do this through the network. Every call, no matter whether its ex-directory or not must present a telephone number to the Exchange – for billing purposes. Simply let customers add black/white list numbers tagged to the exchange. Also let them tag “International” numbers so that they can be tracked and shut down. Virtually all Exchanges are now digital and part of the 21C network and are software controlled, therefore the changes required to make this happen would be tiny. But here is the thing. The network operators make millions per year from call centres. The government makes millions in tax receipts from Call Centres and Network operators – who really has the stomach to shut/slow down this operation?

Member
Ian says:
4 May 2016

A lot of the nonsense revolves around the fact that companies can claim that you somehow consented to receiving unsolicited calls from people you have never heard of.

Member
John Smith says:
30 April 2016

As Alpha says, all cold calling should be made illegal. In addition however, legislation is also required for any options within purchasing and other forms of agreements to always automatically opt the user out of any agreement to permit their personal information to be shared unless thay tick a box to opt in. This would remove the current situation where many people opt into such agreements without realising what they are doing. The current sitaution where companies can hide the tick box in a corner and make it difficult to determing whether one is being opted in or out is totally unacceptable.

Member
Ian says:
4 May 2016

Claims management companies are not permitted to pound the streets and bang on doors to drum up business due to the large amount of nuisance that would cause.

The regulator has not banned those companies from calling all of those people in the hope they find a few ‘customers’. That simple move would be the end of this issue.

Member

Hi Ian,

We agree. Tougher regulation of Claims Management Companies should be put in place without delay to curb the rise in unwanted calls about PPI and accident claims. We want to see the director’s of these companies personally held accountable if their company breaks the rules on nuisance calls.

Member

It’s all very well compelling them to reveal their number, but many, if not all, falsify it. I’ve even had one showing my own number! So the offence should be failure to display a *VALID* number. Even so, it can’t cover international calls. I, for one, cannot see any need to receive calls from India – the technology exists to be able to bar calls from specific countries (India’s country code is 91) – but although I can bar up to 10 numbers with TalkTalk (why the limit?), they have to be specific numbers. Why can’t I bar calls from 0091*, ie. ANY number that originated from India? Or if the number is invalid (or incomplete, like one I received 2 days ago, purporting to come from 01369-43283 – ie. one digit short).

Member

I agree with your comment about the need to compel companies to display a valid number and to be able to bar calls from specific countries. However your idea to bar numbers one digit short would cause great problems. I have a valid phone number with 10 digits – 5 for the area code and 5 for my specific number. I have had it for over 37 years and there are many others in my area.

Member
David says:
2 May 2016

Its already an offence to broadcast a number that is not your own. However, it can be a grey area when it comes to displaying the owners number as some cloud/internet/hosted type services do this just as limitations on the software.

Member
Christina says:
30 April 2016

I changed my broadband / phone supplier from Talktalk to EE recently, since Talktalk was hacked the number of nuisance calls I received sky rocketed. I decided to change my supplier but the calls didn’t stop so in desperation, after 3 calls in 5 minutes from the same 4 digit number I decided to change my phone number. It was relatively painless with EE although I believe I will be charged £15 for the random number, now only my friends and family and officials like doctors etc have it, for ages now I have only given my mobile number where required as I hardly ever hear it when it’s in my bag and I have started adding numbers I don’t recognize to the barring list, just hope it works!!

Member
Ann Smith says:
30 April 2016

Hopefully it will be illegal to post UNAVAILABLE as well. When I picked up the phone twice today, there was no response the other end….so it could be some criminal checking if you I am at home or not.
Usually with the above , and also with withheld and international, I pick up the phone but put it straight back on the hook. that often deters repeat calls.
My GP surgery also uses withheld…I can’t think why , because I might need to hear from them and if they continue to post WITHELD, they won’t be able to contact me, as when the new law comes in I shan’t respond.

Member
David says:
2 May 2016

Your GP withheld the number as they are not always dealing with clear cut ownership of event. Sometime the patient does not want it broadcast across the mobile or home phone that the GP is calling.
The best thing to do with international calls you are not expecting is to let them ring off. After about 6 weeks, it takes some will power, they will stop.

Member

As all patient records are computerised, it wouldn’t take much to add a note as to how a patient can be contacted.

Some patients might have sensitivity or privacy issues, but there is no reason why these cannot be catered for.

Member
Carole says:
2 May 2016

David,
I am glad that after 6 weeks your international calls have ceased sadly mine have been going on for years.

Member
Cazzkins says:
12 May 2016

GP Surgeries must maintain patient confidentiality so the display has to show as ‘Withheld ‘ / ‘Unknown’ to avoid other family members asking questions which one might not wish to answer!

Member

That obviously isnt the case universally Cazzkins as my GP surgery displays the surgery telephone number .

Member

So does mine.

Member
Sylvia Woolhouse says:
30 April 2016

I have Virgin as my internet supplier and about 6 months ago I was offered a new phone (Nokia 6) which I accepted. I started receiving a number of phone calls which I read but did not answer – these turned out to be gaming / competition sites and they were coming in thick and fast. I contacted Virgin but they were unhelpful as I had been told by others that they were in a position to ‘block’ unwanted callers. I was horrified when I was presented with a bill from Virgin for £303.14 as I only have that sort of sum in my account when my pension comes in. Virgin threatened to pass my account details to a Debt Collection Agency. I knew I would be unable to cover this sum so I took out a credit card with Capital One and paid Virgin immediately.

This has put my mind to rest but I have received no acknowledgement from Virgin which does worry me.
My Virgin phone is still cut off meantime and I have not asked Virgin to restore it as I am a lot happier without these competition sites ringing me day and night.

Member
dieseltaylor says:
1 May 2016

Sylvia- It does sound scandalous that if you were making few calls that such a bill racked up and , though I am not clear to the details, I wonder if you have been subject to some scam. I only use PAYG for my two mobile numbers and my smartphone and barely use them at all anyway. Under £30 per ear for sure.

All my phones are owned outright to avoid contact with my mobile providers.

Member
David says:
2 May 2016

Syliva, please get in contact with Offcom. They can and will help you. The inbound SMS could be as a result of you sending a voting or competition text to a magazine, TV or radio show. Virgin should also be helping you if you feel that these premium rate numbers are exploiting you. Stand by your guns and do not pay. The Premium rate SMS market is regulated and Virgin can reclaim through the compensation panel.

Member

“International” is a problem that may be difficult to deal with? Many of us have relatives overseas – resident or on holiday – so we will want these calls. Like betting companies and tax havens, how many UK companies will simply transfer all their cold calling activity to overseas agencies to bypass the UK legislation?

If we get a cold call from overseas and log the exact time of the call, then report it with our number to the telecom provider will the cold callers number will be identifiable? Given sufficient complaints could that caller’s number then be totally blocked to anyone in the UK?

Member

If the companies are based in the UK, they don’t deserve to have a telephone service. For a start they should have their UK phone service withdrawn and if they continue to use an overseas agency to make nuisance calls, prompt legal action should be taken.

A couple of months ago a UK-based firm made 46 million automated nuisance calls and was fined a few hundred thousand pounds. The company went into liquidation with little assets, so it seems unlikely any of the fine will be paid. Action needs to be taken promptly. A handful of calls should be enough.

Member

I proposed some while ago that UK offenders should have their telephone service terminated. It was suggested this would be illegal but I do not see that. If you don’t pay your bill you can be cut off, so why not if you use the service for illegal purposes?

The problem with overseas cold calls is identifying the operator in the first place, and what law can be used to stop them if they don’t have a suitable national law? A means of blocking access to the UK seems one way.

Member

Thank you for supporting a suggestion that I have made numerous times. 🙂 I doubt I was the first.

Member

It is a good suggestion wavechange, but I imagine offenders would have numerous lines to rotate calling from to give the impression of only calling you occasionally.

Member

If it is the same company or the same automated message, that would give their game away. I have no idea how much BT and other companies involved in providing phone services are doing to cooperate with ICO to identify the culprits. That seems to be a higher priority than making a profit from selling call blockers. 🙁

Member

It matters not who was the “first”. We talk about this, moan about it, but why has Which? not done a decent investigation that explores whether technically there are ways of blocking unwanted calls from all sources? If there is currently no way to stop, say, overseas cold calls, then we are wasting time complaining.

So, are there technical ways we can deal with this or not? Does anyone know? Has Which? tried diligently to find out? If there are, we can then look at the ways they can be implemented. But fining companies is not an answer, clearly.

Member

Then maybe we and others should be working together as a team and providing mutual encouragement, exploring new ways of finding information and encouraging more people to get involved with Which? Conversation.

Until a year ago I looked down on social networking but thought it could help one of the charities I work for. It has helped pull in more volunteers, unearthed interesting historic photos that we did not know existed and I now have a photographer who is happy to supply professional quality for the magazine I produce. What I have discovered is that it’s not just young people that use Facebook and while many pages are devoted to trivia, it has its serious side.

Tackling nuisance calls and many of the issues we debate involves commercial secrecy, not least from Which? Perhaps it would be in the public interest for Which? and all other organisations with charitable status to be subject the the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, along with every commercial organisation.

Perhaps we could work together to get British Standards available to everyone.

Member

You raise several points.

Regarding unwanted calls I have firstly asked if there is a sound technical solution available. It seems the starting point to me.

The Freedom of Information act – well we’ve discussed this elsewhere but I don’t see that should inhibit Which? and others from collating information – on product defects for example – and making proper use of it.

British Standards, like EN (Euronorm) are not freely available and unless an organisation makes them so – as the library service used to much more widely – then I see no progress unless and until they are funded by the public. Someone has to pay for the organisations that develop standards. BSI is independent of government. I would love to be able to get access to them for free.

However Which? tell me they have access to copies of all the BSEN standards that are applicable to the products they investigate. So, as an interim measure, will they undertake to answer any questions on standards, and provide relevant information, for Convo contributors or, at the very least, to their members (who presumably fund the purchase of standards through subscriptions)?

Member

The costs of creation and management of British Standards is already covered. The additional cost of managing public access should be small and could be funded by the government. I have explained that articles in many scientific and other journals are publicly available, so we all benefit from free access. Unfortunately, some of the best tools for searching all the worthwhile journals are not open access, but I’m sure this will come.

Member

How is it covered? It is a continuous process of developing new standards, amending existing ones, updating standards (every 5 years requires a review of every standard I believe). And it is not just British Standards; the vast majority of our BS standards are derived form Euronorms – which is why they are BSENxxxxx- and International standards (ISO) and so on, that all require to be funded.

Member

As I said, I am proposing that British Standards continue to be funded as before, but the small cost of making them available online to the general public could be borne by government. When I was doing research, information retrieval was an important part of my job and sometimes an uphill struggle thanks to reluctance of commercial publishers to change. Academics pulled together and considerable progress has been achieved. I suppose we could have accepted the status quo and done nothing.

Member

I don’t disagree with the concept, but making them available online would make them available to everyone. All EU states for example. So as I see it the decision to do this would require all EU states to agree to publicly fund standards.

In general, standards are produced primarily for the use of producers rather than consumers, to regulate the safety of their products for example so we, the consumers, are protected. We are hoping that a very few interested, usually practical but inexpert, consumers could monitor standards when issues arise such as tumble driers, washing machine doors and so on. I am not sure this would be sufficient to warrant the cost of production and access being borne by the taxpayer rather than industry (one of the major funders through subscription). This is why I suggest as a solution more likely in at least the interim is for Which? to use its access to provide information when requested. If Which? became a subscribing member it might be able to arrange online access with BSI for nominated members? I’m all for a practical solution in the absence of the ideal one.

Member

As I have said, the funding of standards could continue as at present, so that the only cost to the taxpayer would be the minor cost of managing public access. Industry already provides the public with online instruction manuals, MSDS, and so on and it is right that they should fund the production and revision of standards that relate to their products.

Restriction of access to information that is useful to the public is one of my concerns. For years I used online access to the British National Formulary. That was withdrawn, I suspect for commercial reasons. It’s not a problem for me because I have a recent paper copy but I would like public access restored for the benefit of others.

Apologies for these posts, which should have been in the Convo about tumble dryers, where we were discussing British Standards. It’s easy to get carried away with off-topic discussions. 🙁

Member

I’ve got a BT8500, not spoken to a cold caller for months now. Still get several calls a week, sometimes 2-3 a day but as they refuse to say their name and press hash the phone never rings. Tis a pity that companies like BT are seen to be profiting from these pests rather than doing something more constructive.

Member

Access to standards: this seems to miss the point. If access to standards were free, then no one – industry, academia, public or private users, would have any need to subscribe or purchase. So the income that currently funds their preparation and supports all the national institutions that work on them – like BSI – would dry up. Currently, those who make use of standards in their business and daily lives, for the benefit of their business or organisation, and who are the vast majority, pay for that benefit. I suspect some might complain if the taxpayer had to fund something primarily benefiting profit-making institutions (among others).

Member

Once again I will say that I am not proposing that the taxpayer should pay for the costs of producing and managing standards. If I post a link to an article in a scientific journal I try to pick one that will cost nothing to access, even when an annual subscription to the journal previously cost hundreds or thousands of pounds. It’s called open source publication and the costs of peer review and other publisher’s charges are generally met by the authors. When you apply for a grant to do research it is important to factor in publication costs and the research councils etc. recognise this.

I don’t know how this would work in the case of British Standards but I presume that it would be a case of levying charges on companies based on sales. Managed properly, it might be used as a means of stamping out substandard goods. In a Conversation about the NHS you wrote that we should look at ways of making progress rather than finding excuses for not trying. I strongly support this and it is how I feel about getting information that concerns the public available to all.

Member

I wonder just how many members of the public would use BSEN standards unless they had a professional need?
Standards are used by all kinds of users, not just industry. Levying a charge on all users related to turnover (how to deal then with NHS, Universities for example) seems unfair as it bears no relation to how many standards they might need access to.

At present you can subscribe to standards online by selecting those group(s) that are relevant, including a huge range of international standards. I’d like to see a modest subscription offered to private users who simply want occasional access – such as we are asking here. Or maybe Which? could arrange access on line – they should access standards regularly themselves with the amount of testing they commission – and arrange for interested members to have access.

As I do not see access to all standards becoming free to all, I’d suggest other avenues are explored that might bear fruit. Any ideas, Which?

Member

Malcolm – Let’s move our discussion to the Convo about tumble dryers, where it is relevant.

Member

You raised this above after suggesting certain contributors work together as a team. I am all for a cooperative team approach to topics. Perhaps the new Which Convo might be more appropriate, although I would like Which? to respond if they can help with standards. I don’t think I can add more.

Back to this topic. My concern before this crept in was to ask if there was a technical way to identify and block unwanted cold calls, particularly from overseas. If there were then we have the principle of an effective way forward. Perhaps Which? could investigate this, or there may be a telecoms expert (duncan?) who may be able to help us. If there is no way to block them technically, then we must see if penalties can possibly work but so far I am dubious that this will be an effective solution.

Member

malcolm – you are absolutely right ALL international calls can be blocked via the exchange and you could be provided with a code that switches it on/off . This is in action in Australia as we speak . Do telephone companies want to do it ?? –nope ! – lost revenue , does the government want to do it-nope ! international trade agreements with countries like India . Yes I know but my long lost relative in southern Borneo cant call me , in that case give her your mobile number in any case you can say I will deactivate it at such and such a time . Its not impossible just because of international politics and international BB.

Member

The wishes of government and business take priority over those of the citizens. This seems to be the underlying problem in some of the other issues we debate.

Member

Hi Malcolm,

These new rules apply to companies based in the UK but also to companies based in the UK who outsource activity to call centres abroad. Additionally, The Information Commissioners Office and Ofcom, who have responsibility for dealing with unwanted calls, do have partnerships in place with counterpart regulators in other countries to try and tackle the problem you’ve identified.

I’d advise to always report the number to the regulators (you can do that through the Which? tool here http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/) as every complaint can help in the fight against nuisance calls.

Member

Thanks James. I had a call – withheld – with an Indian gentleman wanting to ask some questions. I asked who it was for. Life UK. Not heard of them. So how can rules deal with this? You can outsource “market surveys” for a “fictitious” UK company and I cannot see how anyone can be penalised.

I was really asking whether reporting the time of a withheld unwanted cold call would enable the telecom provider to identify the source and, given enough reports, block the number.

Member

Hi Malcolm, I think the more information you can collect (date, time etc…) and report the better and as you say, given enough reports hopefully action will be taken.

The rules states that direct marketing companies registered in the UK will need to display their phone numbers when making unsolicited phone calls – even if their call centres are based abroad.

Member

Although this is a welcome step, its far too little and far too late.

“It can hit offenders with fines of up to £500,000”. Yet so far they haven’t got anywhere near that. No point giving toothless regulators teeth as they’ve forgotten how to use them.

Caller id still needs to be free, no need to ask or have the right package, on all landlines.

Surely the easy way to deal with international nuisance calls is keep summoning the ambassador to explain why. Do that 120 times a week, he/she/it may decide it’s worth doing something about. Maybe fine the embassy for their counties nuisance calls, £500k a pop. Or maybe force all calls from their country to be routed thru their embassy until they sort it out.

Phone operators should also be forced to not connect calls with an invalid CLI. 000000000000 is not valid.

Member
Selwyn Lawrence says:
30 April 2016

Yes. A big thank you to Which? Who campaiged tiresly to bring about a much needed change in the law on secret phone callers. They should also clamp down on all unknown phone callers regardless whether you’re a company or not.

Member
Richard Stewart says:
30 April 2016

I have received numerous calls from various people… One the other day first asked me to confirm my details so they “knew know they were speaking to”… They claimed it was “for data protection”, but got miffed when I told them that I don’t give out random callers my details – especially if they won’t tell me what it’s about!

Member

I ask them to prove how they are 1st, if its your bank, they should be more than happy to do that as it shows you’re on the ball.

Member
davo says:
31 August 2016

If asked to confirm my details I just say OK and wait. When they eventually speak I tell them to tell me what they know about me and I will confirm it to them. Normally this is end of the conversation.

Member
dieseltaylor says:
1 May 2016

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Neville-Rolfe,_Baroness_Neville-Rolfe

Just in case you do not know who the authoress is – like me.

Member
bishbut says:
2 May 2016

I agree with Alfa however I think that caller display provided by your phone provider should be free. I do not answer any numbers that are not on my calls list which come up as names. My phone is not an expensive one it one of the cheapest BT phones

Member

A little update for everyone – from today cold callers can no longer hide their caller ID, making it far easier for you to report nuisance calls. Those cold callers caught using withheld numbers to make unsolicited calls will face huge fines of up to £2.5million.

Member
Ian says:
16 May 2016

Just to be clear, the new regulations require people who are already breaking the law by making cold calls to now reveal their identity so that it becomes easier to apprehend them.

This rule should be extended to all crime, e.g. burglars and robbers should be required to leave a copy of their passport or driving license at the crime scene, along with a daytime telephone number where they can be contacted…

It would have the same effect… none.

The danger with the new rule is that where a number is actually given, many people will be intrigued enough to call the number back. In doing so not only will they have encountered nuisance they will now be incurring additional costs.

Scammers set the CLI to show an expensive 070, 084, 087 or 09 number and then call many numbers. Those who call back spend a fortune going nowhere or wasting their time listening to recorded junk, a fake ringtone, or some such.

If you do not recognise the number from an incoming missed call from an 070, 084, 087 or 09 number, do not call it back. If they didn’t leave a message, it is unlikely that you wanted to hear from them. By calling them back you will be paying a premium rate to find that out.

Member

Ian makes a good practical point while the new regulations are welcome in reality they will be ignored by those who consider themselves outside the law or in a position where they will be hard to prosecute. I would be interested in any rebuttals of his post as long as they can put a contradictory view of what Ian has said.

Member

I am now confused. Lauren says that cold callers can no longer hide their caller ID, whereas Ian makes it clear that they can and they likely will. Unless there is a technical mechanism to prevent ID blocking I tend to think Ian is right and that what Lauren meant was that cold callers who do hide their caller ID will be committing a further offence and face sanctions if discovered.

If the caller ID is hidden, we will not be able to report them and they will not get caught.

If all goes according to plan, next week there should be a long list of intended prosecutions. Clear the Courts!

Member
Ian says:
17 May 2016

The new law says they are no longer allowed to withhold their number, but there is no technical solution to make that so. Those who are breaking the law are now required to volunteer their number so as to make it easier to apprehend them.

As I said above, the new law works in the same way as one which would ask burglars and muggers to leave a copy of their ID at the scene of any crime they have committed…

Member
Ian says:
17 May 2016

“Baroness Neville-Rolfe: why we’re blocking withheld numbers”

You’re actually doing nothing of the sort. No “blocking” is involved whatsoever.

Member
Richard says:
17 May 2016

I agree with Ian. The Minister should be asked to explain how she thinks this will work in practice. I received a call with no ID today – and I had no means of seeing the lack of ID before answering the phone, because I would have to pay extra to Virgin to see the ID. Calling 1471 after the event, as the Baroness suggested in one interview, is no comfort when I have answered a call and had either spurious claims from someone who refuses to reveal their identity, or a rude silence. The Minister’s measures seem as useless as a chocolate teapot.

Member
Ian says:
23 May 2016

An experiment on Myth Busters, or some such TV show, showed that a chocolate teapot was quite capable of holding hot liquids for some considerable time. This is due to chocolate being a poor conductor of heat.

I fear your comment has unnecessarily denigrated the usefulness of chocolate teapots.

Member

The day after this came into affect I had 2 calls from Unavailable. Didn’t think this would have much of an effect.

Member
Ian says:
24 May 2016

None of the regulation introduced in the last decade or more has had any effect. Continuing to tinker with minor details in a completely failed strategy is dooming to continued failure.

Member

Quite correct Ian but the question should be asked WHO is helping to support the continuing strategy =BB with government help (of any political pursuance ) over decades .

Member
Helena says:
20 July 2016

This is not about nuisance calls but about nuisance emails. I have an ever-increasing amount of them on my computer, every day. Today there were 152 in my inbox & 211 in my spam box, it is worse than useless to click on the “unsubscibe” button, or to go to a call-centre that is supposed to help b.t. customers with problems as these options only give more opportunities to unscrupulous firms. It is offensive to me, having lost my partner recently, to have Funeral plans etc & I don’t borrow money,believing that if I want a thing I save for it & I don’t need any more double-glazing.
I don’t open them but leave them in my spam-box for a couple of days for the computer to memorise them & supposedly put all unwanted email straight in, but this does not happen & I have to trawl thro’ them all to sift out the legitmate emails & have probably deleted some wanted ones by mistake.
There can be 5 or 6, all looking exactly the same, one after the other.
Please, what can I do?

Member

Helena -while BT isnt going to be too helpful in this issue and not provide a complete answer there is somewhere you can try its called –spamcop.net/ register with them and report all your spam to them . This is a long time kosher company and is no “fly by night “organisation but a world well respected website that is used by many organisations . Do not “muck them about ” or you will be banned for GOOD !

Member
Helena says:
21 July 2016

Thankyou for your reply. I couldn’t get that address but was supplied with several others. My worry is that I don’t know how secure they all are or if they might turn out to be fraudulent. There is a free Microsoft site but I’m not sure of all the Ts & Cs. I would like to send them all these emails that I get so they’d know what to block. Strictly speaking, they are not (to my knowledge) Scams but Junk

Member

Helena the reason I mentioned Spamcop is not for advertising but because it is a world recognised high quality World service for many big companies and the public . It has a very good reputation built up over the years , it does what is says – polices the Internet. Have Nothing to do with Microsoft or you will be open to all sorts of third party emails/ letter post /advertising and all you personal details will be logged . Spamcop dont do that . I have tried – spamcop.net/ again and have no problem getting through to them . But you have presented a clue Helena , if you are getting loads of spam/junk it could be your email service is hacked or even your computer as the first thing they do is block access to spamcop and others like it . Try that email address again and tell me what your browser says or try another browser like Firefox . And let me know what other people have told you to use to remove spam/junk so that I can evaluate them.

Member
Helena says:
22 July 2016

Hi Duncan, I’ve just tried again to visit -spamcop.net/ & get the “we cannot find it” message up but there is a spamcop site to find out why my email is being blocked (which it isn’t) but I get pages of related items e.g. titanhq. I’ve investigated some of these sites but haven’t tried what they tell me to do as I’m not sure that I can access the instructions on mycomputer. As you may gather, I am a complete dinosaur with computers. I’m away now to see if one set of instructions works but don’t hold your breath! Thankyou.

Member

Thanks for replying Helena ,many dont and it gets a bit dis- spiriting . It worries me you still cant get -spamcop , the website you quoted Titanhq.com is one you pay for service spamcop is FREE . This leads me to believe your browser and search engine are being controlled to divert you to paying websites . Change your browser and search engine . A good search engine is -Duck-Duck-Go its private or StartPage but just download another browser as the one you are using is compromised.

Member
Helena says:
27 July 2016

Hi Duncan, it’s been a couple of days since I tried to do anything about all this spam. i got Duck-Duck-Go up & was able to get into Spamcop & have ploughed thro’ most of their literature, then I had to send my email address & was told to check my emails for confirmation but now cannot getback into my inbox; a message comes up:- “Account Error. Default Mail Account” so I don’t know what to do. Thanks for your patience.

Member

It sounds like you have a virus on your computer if you are being blocked from the inbox of your email service . Where that virus is , is another thing , what type of protection have you got ? Is it a free one or is it a paid for one and does it cover both computer and Internet ? . If you have a protection service run a scan on your whole computer and tell me what make the of protection is. Are you using Windows 10 with their own protection ? or is it a private one . Get back Helena I will stay with you to try and resolve this , some of those viruses are well hidden and hard to remove. If your email service worked okay before then the virus is blocking it as they are intelligent and block protection programs and any other that would interfere with their operation . It could be a root-kit , they are hard to remove , the latest ones are dug in deep.

Member
Helena says:
31 July 2016

Funnily enough,my emails came back to normal immediately &, tho’ I’m still getting a lot of these spams, the ones hat I hate most (starting with “-?Q£=8==64 etc” or something similar) have mostly stopped; no doubt they’ll be back in force soon. I am using Windows 7, it was upgraded from XP a couple of years ago & my protection is AVG free & I ran a free tune-up from them on28th

Member

Helena -what I should have asked you is what email service you are using ? . Try downloading Thunderbird email client and try that or add an email service on . I have several but try Yandex that has a built in virus control thats better than BT Mail and its easier to block bad emails , it puts all that type into junk/trash immediately , the drawback is you would need to input a new email address like helena ***** @yandex.com but you can add your original email address and it will get those as well but be more secure . While AVG is okay for free it is not comprehensive and you dont get priority updates and when I used Win 7 I had to get a payed protection programme . The benefit is that it covers not only your computer but the whole Internet as well blocking bad websites and checking your emails as well . AVG free is quite good but Avira free is a bit better but you could have done worse . So if you are sticking with AVG then try the addition of an email client and another email service so you can compare the difference . I take it you have run a full scan using AVG ?