/ Technology

How do you handle nuisance callers?

Cartoon of girl on phone

Since we launched our campaign, Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts, thousands of you have shared your frustrations. And I’ve noticed that many of you adopt various strategies to cope with unwanted calls…

You may recall that we set the relevant regulators a challenge to prove to us that they’re taking action by June. In the meantime, I’ve been reading through your comments, many of which reveal numerous tactics to deal with nuisance calls and texts.

Signing up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is one step you can take, but as many of you have told us, you’re still getting unwanted sales and marketing calls.

Brian is supposedly TPS protected, but he’s had to resort to using Pawley’s Peepholes as inspiration. In this short story by John Wyndham, a community battles time-travelling tourists with rude gestures. I’ll say no more. Some of you take to shouting, but I think Linda makes a good point when she says ‘screaming at a recorded message only hurts my throat, not the wretched company making the calls’. But some of you have adopted other tactics…

Tactic one: the pick up

Those who do pick up the phone are often happy to answer and even agree ‘it’s good to talk’. But, unwanted sales staff beware, many of our commenters have a trick up their sleeve.

When a scam caller claiming to be a ‘Microsoft engineer’ asked Mike whether he had a PC, he said he had two – one male and one female. Mike also told the bemused ‘engineer’ that he was hopeful a third PC would be on the way soon!

Bill’s wife told a double-glazing firm that they lived in a tent. The sales man actually called back after realising that tents don’t have landlines…

Tactic two: the put down

This seems to be one of the most popular coping tactics. Many of you just don’t answer and let calls go to voicemail, like Vince who doesn’t answer the phone before 8pm on weekdays.

Commenters Lynne and Les all put down as soon as they know it’s an unwanted call. They’ll even ask the unwanted sales caller to ‘hold the line please’, leave the phone off the hook and walk away. Les feels he’s helping out others, as he’s delaying a nuisance call to the next person on the list. Thanks Les!

Tactic three: the delegator

This is me. What better way to deal with a nuisance than deploying another ‘nuisance’. And many parents believe they have just the candidate…. My son hangs up in seconds if he suspects that it’s a silent call (apologies to the grandparents!). WB’s son likes to mimic accents and WB is happy to let him practise his ‘skills’ on unwanted callers.

Paul also lets his son answer. His son is fluent in Manx Gaelic and Paul can confirm that many sales staff are not. And finally Michael told us that he lets his son deal with unwanted nuisance calls. His son is two years old.

Of course, we don’t think you should have to adopt these tactics when the phone rings, which is why we’ve launched our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t share your tactics to deal with nuisance callers.

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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bimbles says:
17 September 2014

i tend to answer the phone
“Marty’s meat market, you stab em, we slab em, we handle human beef and pork, how may i direct your call?”

they usually hang up before i’ve finished, i once did answer the phone like that to the police luckily the officer found it amusing when i told him why

Dr Spock says:
14 December 2014

I receive more nuisance calls at my desk re PPI etc than I do on work related matters. Calls appear to go through every line; eg to my NHS Trust’s Boardroom. Someone has to answer as it could be important but the short interruption may affect up to 20-30 people – not the best use of tax payers’ money.

Margaret Roberts says:
15 December 2014

Nuisance calls are really annoying my Husband is self employed so the phone needs to be answered I get about 5 – 6 a day I wonder how they get your number!!!! I shout down the phone not to call me again but they always do it is really frustrating.

Brian Roberts says:
6 January 2015

There is no need to suffer this scourge as since buying a BT4500 with a Call Blocking Feature my nuisance phone calls have dropped to almost zero. You can set it up to block:-International Calls, Withheld Numbers, No Caller ID, Payphone, plus 10 individual numbers of your choice. All calls from these numbers may be set to go to the built in answer phone but of course no nuisance caller will ever leave a message!
It has many useful features with one of the best being a RECORD button which when pressed during a conversation will record your entire call for playback at your convenience.
Being a DECT phone all calls are as clear as a bell & the volume level may be set to your preference.If that were not enough there is a neat amplify button on the side of the handset which defaults to your chosen volume level when the phone is returned to the base station.
With this sort of technology available at a very reasonable price it’s a mystery to me why so many folk seem to put up with these nuisance calls when they may so easily be consigned to the dustbin with a BT4500 phone.

The facilities offered by the BT 4500 are primitive compared to those offered by the more recent BT 8500.

“You can set it up to block:-International Calls, Withheld Numbers, No Caller ID, Payphone, plus 10 individual numbers of your choice.”

That’s all very well, but some of us need to receive international calls. And some of us actually require, for legitimate reasons, to have Caller Line Identification suppressed on some of our lines. Some overseas calls do not have CLI that is recognised in this country. Just occasionally, too, there may be a legitimate call from a payphone.

Peter says:
16 July 2015

Calls from a computerised switchboard, as my local Hospital show as number withheld, I had quite a few which I ignored then turned up for a clinic only to be told they had been repeatedly trying to contact me to say the clinic date was changed. Blocking International calls may block friends or family on holiday.
A loophole is to say they are following up on a previous matter, I stopped a subscription to the Daily Telegraph in the 1990s but have had two calls this year from them. The only solution is to clean up the Call Centre business, perhaps the charge for marketing calls should be increased?

If you can’t stop them getting through then if you have a Panasonic DECT phone and Caller Display you can change the ring tone for selected phone numbers, i.e. Family, Friends, Nuisance. You can then tell from a distance that it is a nuisance call instead of rushing to the phone to read the display. You can even record a loud message to be played instead of a ringtone i.e. “NUISANCE”. Try it, it works but only if the number is displayed in the first place.

David Young says:
16 January 2017

One way of having a bit of fun is to reply with “that’s fine but do you mind if we speak about Jesus before we start?” then insist of having a prayer before you speak before launching into a load of drivel about how Jesus is the saviour of the world till they get so fed up they hang up on me!

One tactic I use is to say I am the estate agent dealing with the house since the owners died in a car accident. Another I use with the Indians pretending to be from BT is to keep answering the door or the other line and after five minutes tell them I don’t have a computer. the latest is because I have the BT system whereby I can bar calls is to tell them I am busy for the next few minutes but ask them to call back and in the meantime bar their number.

We find that if you answer the telephone but don’t speak it cuts off. Apparently something puts calls through when voice is heard. Using this tactic has greatly reduced the nuisance calls. I recommend that you try it. If you hear voice straight away then you need to speak. If that’s nuisance then deny the person they ask for is living there. I get asked who I am and tell them I’m the Dog sitter, conversation ends quickly then. Hope this helps you all

Kofi says:
10 January 2018

I have been getting a number of calls in a day from different mobile numbers and they hang up when you pick the call and this has been going on for sometime now. some of the numbers are 07442995470,07897205816,07290800825, 07444337216, 07276314017,07776802229, 07430087855 and many more, can someone tell me what this is please.

Kofi, I can’t find anything on any of your numbers.

You could try entering them on this website:

Mark them ‘unknown’ or ‘harassing’ with text saying something like ‘One of many numbers that keeps calling me then hangs up when I answer’

Then look back in a week or so to see if anyone else has reported them.

I think scammers are getting wise to reporting websites and using different numbers more often.

Kofi says:
10 January 2018

Thanks alfa

You’re welcome Kofi.

Dan Brown says:
8 March 2019

I usually answer, tell them the police are monitoring all incoming calls and their location will be supplied to the authorities. They immediately hang up. Other times, I state that if they ever call me again, I will find them . . . and kill them. That works too, and perhaps more effectively, because with these cloned, non-callable phone numbers they use, it’s impossible to complain to anyone. Assuming they bother contacting the police to report your threat (which they won’t because they’re committing criminal fraud), you’ll at least know WHO the party calling you is. It really is a win-win. I’d recommend it.

Dorothy says:
29 July 2019

This 01134572681 called to sell me 5 numbers on the huge lotto 109mil $ for 13 saying they were Canadian (accent true) and surprisingly aware I’d been a previous customer years ago they had my old bank details. I bought the 5 numbers which I never received and didn’t get the promised call back. I reported to who-calls.me.uk. So presumably a scam.