Nuisance calls are hugely irritating but there is a way to stop them
When my 12-year-old was given a smartphone at Christmas there was plenty that concerned me.
Blocking inappropriate websites, deleting social media apps and setting parental controls were all top of my list before being allowed to roam free with this exciting new gadget.
However, there was one thing I was totally unprepared for and that was the nightmare of nuisance calls.
Getting cold called is something most adults have to deal with on an almost weekly basis but I was shocked by how quickly these unsolicited calls started on a phone given to a child.
What made this even more baffling is the phone and SIM were brand new and the number had only been given to a few very close friends and family.
But somehow, within days of the smartphone being activated, this number was in the hands of call centres across the UK with them brazenly attempting to sell life insurance, PPI and accident compensation to a minor.
On one particular day we had to fend off four separate calls plus a scam text message posing as a popular supermarket.
Nuisance cold calls can be stopped by contacting the TPS
So how can this happen?
Having spoken to my mobile network they guarantee that no numbers are ever given out to marketing or cold call companies.
However, as there simply aren’t an infinite amount of telephone numbers, some are often recycled meaning call centres may already have it on record.
Unscrupulous firms also use automated number generators that bombard networks in the hope they find a phone that’s switched on and in service.
It’s shocking to think it’s this easy for a new number to become so readily available in such a short amount of time and even worse that children can be contacted without any fear of firm’s being held accountable.
Sadly, it seems my experience is just the tip of the iceberg.
Recent figures from Aviva show that over two billion unwanted calls and texts arrived on phones in the UK last year.
This translates to more than 6 million nuisance calls and texts made every day, or 4,200 calls and texts made every minute.
According to the research, some 895million nuisance calls were made chasing an injury claim for an accident that may or may not have occurred, or other insurance-related matter such as pursuing a holiday sickness claim.
Nuisance calls chasing an accident claim were the most common concern reported by consumers to the Information Commissioners Office.
So what can you do about it?
Luckily, it seems there is a fairly simple way to deal with unwanted calls.
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a free service that allows you to opt out of receiving unsolicited calls.
Once your number is registered with the TPS it is then illegal for companies to cold call you unless they have your consent to do so.
You can register with the TPS here.
Will this stop all calls?
The honest answer appears to be no.
The TPS says that there’s been a rise in the number of unsolicited calls being received by people registered on the service.
These calls mainly come from companies that deliberately ignore the law and either hide or disguise their identity.
They might withhold the number they are calling from or display a fake number.
And they sometimes use generic sounding names that cannot be used to accurately identify an organisation.
Understandably this makes contacting these companies or targeting them for enforcement extremely difficult or even impossible.
There are thousands of calls every day from companies like these trying to benefit from short term financial opportunities based on generating sales leads for things such as accident claims, PPI claims, solar energy installation, and insulation grants etc.
Call centres can get hold of your number more easily than you might imagine
There is one more thing you can do
The TPS has recently launched an app which aims to fight the issue of cold calling.
This TPS Protect app can monitor calls and tell you if they are coming from fake number.
Users can then opt to block the calls and report the company for making contact illegally.
The TPS says: “We take the data we collect from you and provide a service that warns you if an incoming call is a suspected scammer, or from someone that is causing a nuisance.
“There is even the option to just send all the unwanted calls straight to voicemail so that you are not disturbed.”
You can find more details on the app here.
Once. a number is registered with the TPS it is then illegal for companies to call you
What to do if you continue get nuisance calls?
Ofcom has range of help on its website but the advice is simple.
Never give any personal details to anyone who you don’t know even if they claim to be from a reputable company.
Avoid answering the phone by saying your telephone number and name as a greeting and avoid including these details on your answerphone or voicemail.
Try and get the name of the company and person on the other end of the phone.
If they are real and abiding by the law they should have no problems giving this to you.
You can also ask the caller to remove your name from their database which means you shouldn’t be contacted again.