How to stop nuisance calls?

Table of Contents

Welcome We are the Telephone Preference Service

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a free service. It is the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is a legal requirement that all organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so.

Organisations with which you have an ongoing relationship, for example those who regard you as a customer, (or in the case of charities – a donor) may well gather your consent during the early stages of your relationship with them and will therefore be entitled to call you even if your number is registered on TPS, unless you have previously told them specifically that you object to them calling you for marketing purposes.

The TPS can accept the registration of mobile telephone numbers, however it is important to note that this will prevent the receipt of marketing voice calls but not SMS (text) messages. If you wish to stop receiving SMS marketing messages, please send an ‘opt-out’ request to the company involved.

As TPS registration only prevents marketing calls, organisations will still be able to call you for the purposes of genuine market research.

HOW TO STOP NUISANCE CALLS FOR FREE

Register with the free Telephone Preference Service (TPS) by calling 08450700707.

Companies based in the UK must not make unsolicited marketing and sales calls to TPS-registered phone numbers.
This applies even if the call centre is located overseas. Foreign companies are not however obliged to comply with TPS rules. Studies indicate that signing up for the TPS can stop up to 34% of nuisance calls.
There are also a number of loopholes companies use to overcome TPS regulations, for example by performing ‘survey’ calls which turn into sales calls.

Go ex-directory.

Some companies, particularly local businesses, may use online or paper phone books to find numbers to target with sales and marketing calls.

If you are not in the directory then these businesses have no way of tracking you down. Also the name and address listed in the phone book provides scammers information to support any false claim that they already have a commercial relationship with you.

Screen your phone calls.

This is not a way of preventing the call in the first place and can be time consuming, bit it means you won’t have to speak to a nuisance caller, although their call rings may be annoying.

Keep your name off sales call lists.

Data protection laws ban companies from calling you for marketing purposes if you’ve asked them not to, even if you are a customer.

The best way to guarantee this is to carefully tick, or untick, the box in which you agree to opt in or out of direct marketing. be careful as some companies pre-tick boxes in order to confuse customers. Read these sections carefully.

Use call blocking technology.

Call Blocking technology is the only way to effectively block up to and including 100% of nuisance and scam calls. Depending on how it is used, the user can select which numbers come through to their phone and which ones do not, to their own personal preference.

For more information on call blocking technology and methods to stop scam and nuisance calls, please call our experts freephone on 0800 652 7780.

Call Blocking Technology is also available at Amazon UK

How to stop nuisance phone calls

Speak to your provider

If you keep getting calls from a withheld number, contact your phone company who should have a dedicated team for handling nuisance calls.

Your phone provider can advise you on what to do next, and may even be able to trace the caller to stop them contacting you again.

They may also be able to help you set up caller display, or block calls from withheld numbers. For example, BT Call Protect lets you send blocked calls straight to a junk folder.

Contact your phone company via their website, or by calling their customer service team to find out more.

Register with TPS

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) mainly exists to combat unwanted sales calls and registering with them should help you reduce the number of silent calls you receive.

It is free to register and unwanted calls should stop within 28 days after registration is complete. TPS lets you:

  • Stop unwanted marketing calls

  • Stop unwanted text messages

  • Prevent calls at inconvenient times

  • Allow valid calls to get through

  • Stop calls about products you are not interested in

Find out who is calling

UK companies are required by TPS to display their phone number so it is easier for you to report unwanted calls from the same number.

To check the number of the call, screen the call using your handset and make a note of the phone number, along with the date and time of the call.

You can then report the company to the Information Commissioner’s Office who will investigate and potentially issue fines for unwanted cold calls.

What if the call centre is based abroad?

If a call centre is owned by a UK registered company, it will still have to display its phone number even if the callers are based overseas.

What is spoofing?

This is where nuisance callers and criminals change their caller ID to hide who they are, or to appear as though calling from a real company.

For example, identity thieves who want to steal your bank details will pretend they are calling from your bank or building society.

If you think you have been contacted by someone trying to commit identity fraud, you should:

  • Not give out your personal details

  • Hang up the phone

  • Wait five minutes, to make sure the fraudulent call has ended

  • Contact the company the caller claimed to work for, to see if the call was genuine

If you think you have been a victim of spoofing, you can contact Action Fraud via their website or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Complain to Ofcom

You can report silent calls or abandoned calls to the telecoms regulator Ofcom so that they can investigate further.

To complain about a silent call:

  • Visit the Ofcom website

  • Enter details about when you received the call

  • Confirm what number it came from

  • Report a recorded message or silence on the line

If Ofcom needs more information about your complaint they may contact you, but in most cases this is unnecessary.

Report intimidating calls

If you believe the calls you are receiving are from an individual who is deliberately trying to intimidate you, you should contact the police.

To find contact details of your local police station or neighbourhood policing team visit the Police.UK website.

Stop spam text messages

If you are receiving spam text messages, there are a number of different ways you can report them and stop them almost instantly.

Read our guide on how to stop spam text messages for more information.

Stop getting nuisance calls and texts

Stop getting nuisance calls

There are some actions you can take to stop getting nuisance calls that you don’t want.

You shouldn’t get nuisance calls if you didn’t give the caller your number – for example:

  • cold calls trying to sell you something you don’t want or need, like double glazing
  • recorded or automated messages telling you you’re due compensation, perhaps for a mis-sold insurance policy such as PPI

If you’re getting calls about PPI or accidents

Companies calling you about PPI claims, personal injury claims or other claims can’t call you unless you’ve told them they can.

If they call without your permission, you can report them to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

It’s helpful if you know the number they called from and the date and time they called. If you don’t have all this information, you can give other details of the call – for example, the name of the company that called you.

The Information Commissioner will investigate and can fine the company who called.

Register with the Telephone Preference Service

The best way to stop nuisance calls is to register your number with the Telephone Preference Service. They’ll add you to their list of numbers that don’t want to receive sales and marketing calls. You can also call them to register on 0345 070 0707.

It’s free to register with the Telephone Preference Service. If anyone asks you for money to sign up, it’s a scam – you should report it to the Consumer Service.

It’s illegal for a company to call numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service, so registering should scare companies away and stop them bothering you.

You’ll need your phone number, postcode and an email address to sign up on the Telephone Preference Service website. You can also sign up from your mobile by texting ‘TPS’ and your email address to 85095.

If you get nuisance calls after you’ve registered with the Telephone Preference Service, it may be because you gave the caller your number. Tell the individual caller you don’t want to be contacted again, and they should stop calling you.

You might also still get calls from companies that don’t follow the regulations. You can get advice about companies that ignore the law from the Telephone Preference Service website.

To try to prevent the problem happening again you should always check any forms that you fill in for tickboxes that say something like “I give permission for third parties to contact me by phone” or “I give you permission to contact me by phone”. Don’t tick the boxes if you don’t want to be contacted.

Block nuisance calls

There are products to block some calls (like international calls or withheld numbers) but be careful they don’t also block calls you want. Ask your phone provider if they have a service to block some numbers, or you can install a call blocking device on your phone yourself.

Ofcom has information about the different services your phone provider may have to tackle nuisance calls.

Which? has advice on blocking calls, including reviews of call blocking devices.

If you think it’s a scam call

Scams usually involve people being tricked into giving money. If you think a caller is trying to run a scam, you should report it. Find out how to report a scam.

Stop getting nuisance texts

If you’ve given your number to a company in the past they may send you texts. You can tell them to stop sending you texts by replying ‘STOP’ to the text message. Only reply with ‘STOP’ if the sender tells you who they are in the text or they’re identified in the sent-from number.

If you don’t recognise the sender of a nuisance text or it’s from an unknown number, don’t reply. This will let the sender know you’re number is active and they may send you more texts or call you.

Report a nuisance call or text

Registering with the Telephone Preference Service will stop you getting nuisance calls, but if someone’s still bothering you 28 days after registering, then report them to the Telephone Preference Service.

Registering with the Telephone Preference Service won’t stop you getting nuisance texts. Forward the text to 7726 – this spells ‘SPAM’ on your phone keypad. This will report the sender to your mobile network company. You won’t be charged for forwarding a text to 7726.

Reporting nuisance calls or texts also helps regulators track down who’s making them. You’re under no obligation to do this, but it’s quick and easy, and it’ll help more people in the long run.

You’ll need to have your contact details and the company name or registration number to hand.

You can also report nuisance calls or texts to the Information Commissioner’s Office. It’s helpful if you know the number that called you and the date and time of the call. If you don’t have all this information, you can give other details of the call – for example, the name of the company that called you.

The Information Commissioner’s Office will investigate and can take action against whoever has been contacting you.

If you’ve had a nuisance text that’s advertising something, you can also report it to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Stop calls and texts from a charity

If you want to stop calls and texts from a charity, you should register with the Telephone Preference Service.

Charities shouldn’t make fundraising calls to you if you’ve registered with this service. This includes charities registered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

You can also contact the Fundraising Preference Service if you want to stop getting calls and texts from a charity registered in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. They’ll tell them to remove your contact details within 28 days. The best way to do this is to register on their website. You can register over the phone if you prefer.

Fundraising Preference Service

Telephone: 0300 3033 517

Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm
Saturday, 9am to midday

Calls to this number can cost up to 10p a minute from a landline, or between 3p and 40p a minute from a mobile (your phone supplier can tell you how much you’ll pay).

You’ll need to have your contact details and the charity name or registration number to hand.

Complaining about calls or texts from a charity

You can:

  • complain about a charity registered in England, Wales or Northern Ireland through the Fundraising Regulator
  • complain about a charity registered in Scotland through the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel

You can report nuisance calls or texts to the Information Commissioner’s Office. They can fine companies that break the law.

If you’re getting calls where no one’s there (called silent or abandoned calls), report them to Ofcom.

Fed up with unwanted calls? Discover how to stop nuisance calls

You’re sitting down to have dinner or relaxing in front of the television and the phone rings. It’s someone trying to sell you insurance, or a robotic voice advising you about a PPI claim – a nuisance call.

A nuisance call is a call you get that you didn’t ask for. Unfortunately nuisance calls affect almost all of us at some point. Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips to help you stop nuisance calls.

At best nuisance calls are annoying sales pitches and an invasion of privacy – at worst they can be scary and upsetting. BT’s just introduced a new free service to help called BT Call Protect, which is available to all BT landline customers, as part of your BT Extras.

BT Call Protect

BT Call Protect is a free service exclusively available to BT landline customers that helps stop nuisance calls, giving you peace of mind so that you can answer the phone without worrying whether it’s a sales call, another PPI inquiry or an automated marketing message.

BT Call Protect proactively monitors nuisance calls and automatically stops them getting through to your phone by sending them directly to a junk voicemail. You can manage your calls in three ways:

1: BT blacklist: Numbers identified as nuisance callers by BT’s experts are added to a BT blacklist and sent automatically to your junk voicemail. The list is continually updated with new numbers.

2: Personal blacklist: If you get an unwanted call you can add it to your Personal blacklist within seconds. All future calls from that number will be sent to your junk voicemail.

3: Individual call types: You can send calls from specific categories (such as withheld or international) straight to your junk voicemail.

Manage BT Call Protect at any time from by logging onto bt.com/btcallprotect with your BT ID or calling 1572 (it’s free) on your home phone.

BT is the only phone service provider to offer such a service, which new customers can simply order when becoming a BT customer. Existing customers can activate BT Call Protect at bt.com/callprotect

Read more: Discover how BT is leading the way in tackling nuisance calls.

What is a nuisance call?

Nuisance calls fall into four categories:

1: Malicious calls

Calls where the person at the other end of the line is being abusive or threatening are often the most upsetting type of nuisance calls.

How to stop malicious calls:

  • If you get a malicious call, don’t react, be calm and don’t say anything, taking care not to give away any personal information such as your phone number or address.
  • Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone – remember it’s your phone, so you can take control.
  • If you have an answerphone message, make sure it doesn’t reveal too much, so don’t record your full name and phone number. If you are living alone, consider leaving a message that says ‘we are out’.
  • Keep a record of the date and time of calls, and you can take a note of the number if you have caller display like the BT8600, or by calling 1471.
  • Report malicious calls to the Nuisance Call Advice Line by calling 0800 661 441.
  • If the calls persist, or you feel unsafe, report them to the police.

2: Marketing and sales calls

Here someone, or a company, is trying to sell you something or offer their services. This can be double glazing, a PPI claim or a charity looking for donations.

The odd call now again might not bother you, but to receive lots can be overwhelming, especially if the seller is persistent and pushy.

How to stop marketing and sales calls:

  • Contact the company and ask them to remove your phone number from their list. Some start with a recorded message, allowing you to opt out of calls. Make a note of any details about the company.
  • Contact the Telephone Preference Service to prevent your details being made available to marketing lists for organisations who may call you. Run by the Direct Marketing Association, the service is free. Register your details online at www.tpsonline.org.uk or by calling 0345 070 0707.

Get a phone that can help

We’ve got a range of home phones designed to tackle nuisance calls.

  • The Advanced Phone: With 100% call blocking and answer machine.
  • The Premium Phone: With 100% call blocking, mobile sync and answer machine,
  • The Essential Phone: With easy call blocking and answer machine

BT customers enjoy exclusive discounts find out more here.

3: Silent calls

A silent call is when you pick up the phone and there’s no one on the line.

This is often a technology error, caused by dialling equipment automatically making calls although there aren’t enough staff to be on the end of the line. Others unfortunately can be malicious.

How to stop silent calls:

  • Get your phone number removed from marketing lists by calling the Telephone Preference Service (see above).
  • If you think there’s someone else on the line trying to intimidate you, report them to the Nuisance Call Advice Line (0800 661 441) or contact the police.

4: Text calls

This relatively new phenomena is when you pick up the phone and hear a pre-recorded message. These messages are sent if you’ve received a text message and don’t have a text-enabled phone.

How to stop text calls:

  • If you’ve got a BT calling package, dial 0800 587 5252 from the landline the text calls are coming to. You can choose to stop them or set curfews during which you won’t receive them.

What else can I do to stop nuisance calls?

  • Go ‘ex-directory’ Take your number out of the phone book by calling 0800 800 150, it’s free.
  • Anonymous Call Rejection BT has a feature called Anonymous Call Rejection that stops you getting calls from withheld numbers. It costs £6.30 a month and you can add it by logging into your BT account. Find out more.
  • Sign up for BT Privacy This service allows BT customers to get Caller Display, which shows the phone number of the caller. It costs £1.75 a month when you take out a 12-month line rental contract. Find out more.
  • Choose to Refuse With Choose to Refuse you can stop pre-specified numbers getting through to your phone number. It costs £5.30 a month or Line Rental Plus customers can choose to opt in at no extra cost. Find out more.

Find out more about BT Call Protect

How to stop those nuisance calls

Everything you need to know about getting rid of unwanted calls

Unwanted calls are a pain and there’s no reason you should have to put up with them. But whether they’re annoying telesales calls, or something more serious, there are a few things you can do to avoid them completely. Some of these tips might seem a bit over the top, but we think it’s better to be cautious. If you feel like you’re getting abusive or threatening calls, it’s important to report them to the police straight away.

  • Set up Plusnet Call Protect – this free call feature will block nuisance calls from our pre-selected list. You can also add any number you like to your own personal blacklist. You can find out more about it in our call features guide.
  • Keep your personal info private – a lot of people are in the habit of answering the phone by saying their phone number. A nuisance number might’ve called you at random, so saying your number gives it to the caller. It seems obvious, but by answering the phone with just a ‘hello’, you’re giving nothing away.
  • Use an answerphone or answering service – it’s an easy way to screen calls.
  • Keep voicemail or answerphone messages short – don’t give too much info and never say you can’t take calls because you’re away from home.
  • Change your home phone listing in phone book – only give away essential info in your listing. If it has anything else, like marital status or gender, it’s best to delete it. To do this, get in touch with us.
  • Use a screening feature like ‘call guardian’ or ‘caller display’ – if your phone’s got a display, you can use it to see who’s calling before deciding whether or not to answer. Some phones come with screening, which means you can find out who is calling before picking up.
  • Set up anonymous call rejection – this will let you block withheld numbers. It’s also called ‘barring’ calls. You can find out more about it in our call features guide.

Can I stop sales and marketing companies calling me?

Yes, you can. The best way to stop sales and marketing calls is to make it illegal for them to call you. All you need to do is register with the Telephone Preference Services (TPS). It was set up in the UK and makes it illegal for any telesales nuisance callers to contact you on a number you have put on the TPS list.

To stop sales and marketing calls, register with TPS now. If you’re still getting nuisance calls after registering and have told the company to stop, it’s best to complain to the Direct Marketing Association or the Information Commissioners Office.

Alternatively you can block these calls as described below.

Can I block other numbers from calling me?

Yes. Thanks to our free new call feature Plusnet Call Protect, you are now able to create a personal blacklist of numbers that will be sent straight to a separate junk voicemail for you to listen to or ignore at your leisure. Calls from numbers that are on our reported nuisance call blacklist will also be diverted to this junk voicemail. You can find out more about it in our call features guide.

If you need to change your number for security reasons, we can sort that out for you. If you’ve got a valid crime reference number, we can change a Plusnet number free of charge.

If you don’t have crime reference number or want to change home phone number a charge may apply a charge. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay for us to do this. To check how much it’ll be, take a look at the relevant Price Guide. Or just get in touch with us to find out more.

What can I do to avoid scams or premium rate numbers?

Scammers are always coming up with new ways to get their hands on your info, so stay alert all the time. If you’re calling your bank, only ever use numbers from places you can trust, like on the back of your card or a bank statement. Keep in mind that your bank will never ask you to give them your account details or a full password over the phone. Also, remember calls to numbers starting with 090 can be expensive. And some numbers starting with 07 might look like mobile numbers, but they can cost considerably more to call. For more details, see our Residential Call rates for service numbers guide and Business Call Costs guide.

If your bills are showing calls to premium rate numbers you didn’t make, check all of the kit connected to your telephone line. Something may be dialling premium rate numbers without you knowing.

If you’ve got a fax dial-up modem, disconnect it from your line and run a virus check on it. If you’ve got any security or fire alarm systems set up, contact the alarm company and check when the alarm system automatically calls them, as both of these might be causing the problem.

If you want to find out more about who provides a premium rate number, check the . It won’t always tell you the company, but you’ll be able to see the operator.

How can I block premium content?

Premium rate content comes at a price, so sometimes it might be useful to stop phones on your account from being able to access it. Doing this is simple.

  1. Just log into the Member Centre and go to the Home Phone Control Panel.
  2. Select the ‘Call Features’ tab.
  3. Once there, choose ‘Call Barring’. This will then prompt you to create a 4 digit PIN that will allow you to remove any barred numbers in the future.
  4. Click submit, followed by ‘add features’.

Once that’s set up, you can bar specific numbers by dialling the codes below into your phone.

Call barring will be added within the next 24 hours.

  • #34 ‘the relevant code i.e.1-7’*PIN# – Cancel call barring
  • *#34# – Check whether call barring is switched on

How to Block Unwanted Calls

Scammers can use the internet to make calls from all over the world. They don’t care if you’re on the National Do Not Call Registry. That’s why your best defense against unwanted calls is call blocking.

Which type of call-blocking or call-labeling technology you use will depend on the phone — whether it’s a mobile, traditional landline, or a home phone that makes calls over the internet (VoIP).

What Is Call Blocking?

When we talk about call blocking, we’re talking about technologies or devices that can stop a lot of the unwanted calls you get — like scam calls and illegal robocalls — before they reach you. Mobile phones, landlines, and home phones that use the internet (VoIP) each have their own call-blocking options. Just know that call-blocking services could block some legitimate calls.

Some companies also offer call labeling. Call-labeling services show categories like “spam” or “scam likely” on your phone’s display for incoming calls. Then you can decide whether to answer the call.

Block Calls on a Mobile Phone

Download a call-blocking app

One of the best ways to block unwanted calls on a mobile phone is to download a call-blocking app. A call-blocking app acts like a filter. The company behind the app uses call data or reports from users to predict which calls are illegal or likely scams. The app then intercepts those calls before they reach you. Some apps are free, but others you have to pay for.

To get a call-blocking app:

  • Go to the online app store for your phone’s operating system (iOS, Android, etc.) and look at ratings for different apps.
  • Look online for expert reviews on call-blocking apps.
  • You also can find a list of call-blocking apps for mobile phones at ctia.org, a website for the U.S. wireless communications industry. The site lists apps specific to Android, BlackBerry, iOS (Apple), or Windows devices.

Apps typically let you choose how to respond to calls flagged as scams. Calls might:

  • be stopped
  • ring silently
  • go straight to voicemail

Apps also can let you do things like:

  • block calls based on the geographic location or area code of the incoming call
  • let you create blacklists of numbers to block, or whitelists of numbers to let through
  • send a prewritten text message to the caller
  • file a complaint with the FTC (which you also can do at ftc.gov/complaint)

Some apps access your contacts list, so know whether that’s important to you. The app’s privacy policy should explain how it gets and uses your information.

See what built-in features your phone has

Many cell phones come with menu options that let you block calls from specific numbers, though there might be a limit to how many numbers you can block. Mobile phones also typically have features like Do Not Disturb, where you can set hours during which calls will go straight to voicemail.

See what services your carrier offers

Check your phone carrier’s website or call customer service to find out what call-blocking services it offers or recommends. Some services are free, but others might charge you a fee.

For links to company-specific information about blocking calls, go to the FCC’s Call Blocking Resources.

Watch this video on how to stop calls on your mobile phone:

Block Calls on a Home Phone That Uses the Internet (VoIP)

First find out if your phone uses the internet (VoIP)

It’s possible you have VoIP service on your home phone and don’t know it. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and it simply means that your phone makes calls over the internet, not over phone lines. If you’re not sure what you have, check with your carrier. But if you get your phone service through a cable company, or use a phone/internet/cable bundle, you probably have VoIP service. If you find out you don’t have internet-based phone service, skip down to the advice on blocking calls on a traditional landline.

Read expert reviews on internet-based call-blocking services

Internet-based call-blocking services can block unwanted calls on phones that use the internet. Your carrier might be able to recommend a specific service. But you also can search online for expert reviews. Some services are free and some charge you each month.

Some internet-based services and mobile apps require all calls to be routed through their service, where they are instantly analyzed. You may have choices about how unwanted calls are handled. For example, unwanted calls might:

  • be stopped
  • ring silently
  • go straight to a separate voicemail
  • go to a spam folder

See what your carrier offers

Check your carrier’s website or call customer service to find out what about options or if there’s a service it recommends. Some carriers provide these services for free, but some charge a fee.

For links to company-specific information about blocking calls, go to the FCC’s Call Blocking Resources.

Block Calls on a Traditional Landline

Install a call blocking-device

If your home phone is a traditional landline that doesn’t use the internet (VoIP), you can buy and install a call-blocking device. Call-blocking devices are typically small boxes you attach to your phone.

Some devices use blacklist databases of known scam numbers but let you add numbers you want blocked. Other devices rely on you to create and update your own blacklist of numbers to block.

Some use blacklists to:

  • stop unwanted calls
  • divert calls to voicemail
  • show a blinking light when an unwanted call comes in
  • connect callers to a recording with options so a real caller can still get through

Some devices also use whitelists of approved numbers. That helps you limit which calls get through, or lets you to set up “do not disturb” hours during which calls go straight to voicemail. There are also devices that try to weed out robocalls by playing a prerecorded message prompting callers to press a number to continue the call.

Some services are free, but some charge a fee.

For links to company-specific information about blocking calls, go to the FCC’s Call Blocking Resources.

What About the National Do Not Call Registry?

The National Do Not Call Registry is designed to stop sales calls from real companies that follow the law. The Registry is a list that tells telemarketers what numbers not to call. The FTC does not and cannot block calls. Scammers don’t care if you’re on the Registry.

Even though the Registry can’t stop all of the unwanted calls you’re getting, being on the Registry could make it easier for you to spot illegal calls. If a caller is ignoring the Registry, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. Even if it’s not a scam, you don’t want to do business with or give your information to someone calling you illegally.

What About Robocalls?

If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. Robocalls trying to sell you something are illegal unless you’ve given the company your written permission to call you that way. If someone is already breaking the law by robocalling you without permission, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. At the very least, it’s a company you don’t want to do business with.

Call blocking can help stop robocalls from scammers. But some robocalls might still get through. If you get an illegal robocall, hang up. Don’t press a number, which could lead to more robocalls. Then report it to the FTC. Some robocalls are legal and don’t require your permission, like purely informational messages, political calls, or calls from charities. But if they try to also sell you something on the call, it becomes an illegal robocall.

Learn more at ftc.gov/robocalls.

Calls from Fake Numbers — or “Spoofing”

Call blocking technology can sometimes stop calls from scammers who can make fake names or numbers show up on your caller ID. Scammers often use these “spoofed” names and numbers in government imposter scams to make you think it’s Social Security or law enforcement calling. Then they try to convince you to wire money or pay them with gift cards. Learn more about common phone scams.

In something known as neighbor spoofing, scammers display a number with your area code. They often match the first six digits of your phone number, so you’re more likely to answer the call. Often the faked name and number belong to a real person who has no idea their information is being misused.

Report Unwanted Calls

Report unwanted calls at ftc.gov/complaint. Report the number that appears on your caller ID — even if you think it might be spoofed or faked — and any number you’re told to call back. The FTC analyzes complaint data and trends to identify illegal callers based on calling patterns. We also use additional information you report, like any names or numbers you’re told to call back, to track down scammers.

We take the phone numbers you report and release them to the public each business day. This helps phone carriers and other partners that are working on call-blocking solutions. Your reports also help law enforcement identify the people behind illegal calls.

How to stop nuisance calls

If you want to stop getting nuisance calls, there are a number of different steps you can take.

These include:

Blocking certain numbers or types of calls

Your phone provider might offer a service that lets you block nuisance calls.

Depending on the service, these could block:

  • calls from overseas
  • calls where the number has been withheld
  • lists of specific phone numbers

Talk to your phone provider about what services they offer for blocking nuisance calls. You might have to pay a fee to use them.

Call blockers

You might also want to look into a ‘call blocker’. These are devices which you can attach to your phone that block different types of call. Some phones already have call blocking built in.

Before you start using a call blocking service, make sure it won’t block calls you actually want to get. For example, if it blocks all withheld numbers you may miss important calls from genuine organisations like hospitals.

Registering with the Telephone Preference Service

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) lets you opt out of getting any sales calls you didn’t ask for.

Telesales companies legally have to check the TPS register first before making any live calls. If your name is on the register they are not allowed to call you.

You can either register with the TPS online or do it by calling 0345 070 0707. It’s free to register and it can take up to 28 days to take effect.

If you use a mobile phone, you can add your number to the TPS register by texting ‘TPS’ and your email address to 85095. You’ll get a number from TPS saying your number’s been added to its database.

Registering with TPS will not stop all nuisance calls. Companies are still allowed to call you for market research, as long as they do not take any information from you or try to sell you anything.

The TPS Protect app

The TPS has a free mobile phone app called TPS Protect.

When someone phones you, the app will look up their number and tell you whether the call is suspicious. This helps you decide whether or not to answer.

You can also use the app to look up other numbers, and report nuisance calls you’ve received.

The TPS Protect app is free, but it also has a subscription service which adds other features, like automatically blocking certain types of call. You do not need to subscribe to use the features mentioned in this guide.

Paying attention to marketing

Sometimes a company may contact you because you gave them permission to without realising.

When you have to give your contact details to a company (for example, when you’re buying something, entering a competition or using a price comparison website), make sure you pay attention to the ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ box.

These are sections on forms that ask your permission to let the company (or another company they partner with) to contact you in the future.

An ‘opt-in’ box asks you to tick a box if you agree to be contacted.

An ‘opt-out’ box means you’re agreeing to be contacted if you do not tick the box.

Read these boxes carefully to make sure you know whether to tick the box.

Screening your calls

You might be able to ‘screen’ your calls depending on the phone you have and the phone provider you use.

Screening means finding out who’s calling you in advance so you can decide whether to answer.

Some phones display the number of the caller (also known as ‘Caller ID’ or ‘Calling Line Identity’). Others have an answering machine or voicemail built in.

Both of these will help you choose whether to answer the call or call the person back.

Going ex-directory

Some telesales companies use the phone directory to build lists of people to contact.

If you go ex-directory (have your name taken off), this might help stop business getting your number in this way.

Blocking spam texts

If you get a ‘spam’ text message trying to sell you something or promote something, you may want to stop more being sent.

If you recognise the sender, or the text was sent to you by a shortcode (a number that’s usually only 5 digits long), you can reply to the text with the word ‘STOP’.

This will tell the sender you don’t want to get any more text messages. You should not be charged for this.

If the text message is from an unknown sender or an organisation you do not recognise, do not reply. This might confirm to the sender that your number is active and you might end up getting more messages.

Instead, report the spam text to your network operator by forwarding the text to 7726.

The easy way to remember the 7726 number is that it spells ‘SPAM’ on a phone keypad.

Nuisance calls: phone services that can help

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Phone companies offer a number of services that can help protect against nuisance calls.

Caller display

Caller display shows you the number presented by the person calling (if the number has not been withheld and you have a phone with a display), so you can choose whether to answer.

Caller display information is also important because it enables consumers to report nuisance calls to Ofcom and other regulators, and helps handsets and services that rely on the telephone number to help block and filter calls to work effectively.

However, consumers using caller display to identify callers should be aware that the number presented may not be the actual number of the person calling, due to ‘spoofing’, or the deliberate manipulation of telephone numbers without authorisation.

Incoming call blocking/filtering

Incoming call blocking services can help tackle nuisance or unwanted calls by preventing selected numbers from getting through.

Examples of these include:

BT Call Protect

BT Call Protect is a free, network-based call-filtering service available to BT residential customers. Once activated, the service allows users to send certain calls to a junk voicemail box. These can include calls from BT’s blacklist of nuisance callers, calls from a blacklist created by the customer, and certain call types (such as withheld or international). Customers can retrieve any messages left in the voicemail box at their convenience.

Sky Talk Shield

Sky Talk Shield is a free, network-based call-screening service available to Sky Talk customers. Once activated, the service screens all calls to the customers’ landline by asking callers to identify themselves. When customers answer their phone, they will hear a recording of the caller’s name, and decide whether to add the caller to their ‘star list’ or ‘block list’. After doing this, calls from numbers on the star list will get through without screening, and calls from numbers on the block list will not get through without the customer’s phone ringing . Automated calls will never get through as they cannot respond to the initial screening.

Anonymous call rejection

Scammers or some callers making unsolicited or nuisance marketing calls may try to hide their identity by withholding their number.

Anonymous call rejection allows you to block calls from people who withhold their number.

Last caller identification or 1471

Where a nuisance call has been received, dialling 1471 immediately afterwards can help identify the number of the last caller (unless the caller has withheld their number).

Once the number has been obtained using 1471, you can call the number back and request not to be contacted in the future, or report the number to the relevant regulator.

Voicemail or 1571 (standard and enhanced services)

A voicemail service allows you to screen certain calls and choose whether to return the call once you’ve listened to the message.

Some providers also offer an enhanced voicemail service. This includes features such as remote access, allowing you to listen to messages from a device other than your landline.

How much do they cost?

In some cases, these services are free. In other instances, monthly charges can apply and may vary depending on which package you’re signed up to. Charges from the seven landline providers are set out below.

Caller Display (See who is calling you before you answer) 1471 (Get the number of the last person who called) Standard 1571 voicemail (Listen to voicemail messages by dialling 1571) Enhanced 1571 voicemail (additional features such as remote access) Incoming Call blocking (Block selected numbers from getting through) 1 Anonymous Call Rejection (Stop calls from withheld or anonymous numbers) Call Protect (Using network data and customers’ personal lists to divert nuisance calls, before they ring, into a junk mail box 1572).
BT £1.75 or free with a 12 month contract2 Free £2.25 £4.25 £4.75 £5.80 BT Call Protect (for BT customers – free)
EE Free Free Free N/A N/A £33 N/A
KCOM Free Free N/A £1.02 or Free4 £2.507 £1 or Free7 N/A
Post Office Free Free Free £2.55 £3.42 £4.08 N/A
Sky Free Free £1 £2.50 £3.35 £4.00 Sky Talk Shield (for Sky Talk customers – free)
Talk Talk Free Free Free £2.55 Free Free N/A
Virgin Media £2.25 Free Free £2.25 Not available8 £2.70 N/A

The prices listed are per month. The CPs shown above are those with a relevant market share above 1% or with a universal service obligation to ensure that basic fixed line telecoms services are available at an affordable price to citizens across the UK (BT and KC). There are other communications providers offering the same or similar services. When choosing a provider consumers should also consider them and check their provision of the relevant services and the charges. Consumers who are a customer of another provider should check their services and charges.
For ease of comparison Ofcom has used a generic name and description for each of the services offered by the communications providers listed. Whilst the services are broadly comparable there may be slight differences in the way the services operate and the features they offer. Consumers should therefore check the precise nature of the service with the provider directly.

Information correct as of 30 January 2017

1.-Blocks up to 10 numbers, unless specified otherwise
2.-Caller display is free on request with a 12 month line rental contract or charged at £1.75 per month. Customers on the BT Basic/ Home Phone Saver tariff will receive BT Privacy with Caller Display without charge.
3.-Anonymous Call Reject is only available as part of EE’s Calling features pack. This is charged at £3 per month and also includes Call Divert & Call Waiting.
4.- KC’s charge of £1.02 for caller display applies to consumers on the Light User Scheme and KC Local tariff. For all other tariffs, including their Social Access Package, the service is free.
5.-The charge of £1.02 for 1571 enhanced voicemail applies to the Light User Scheme, KC Local and Social Access Package.
6.-No limit on the number of incoming calls that can be blocked
7.-Anonymous caller reject is free for customers on the Social Access Package, KC Anytime, KC Home Xtra and KC Home Unlimited. The £1 charge applies to all other KC talk and bundle tariffs.
8.-This service is not available to Virgin Media’s cable customers.

Other services

Communications providers may also offer other services to help you tackle nuisance calls. Some providers offer a dedicated nuisance calls team to provide advice and assistance. Other providers may supply these services through their customer services teams.

Telephones or call blocker units that can be programmed to screen unwanted calls are also available. These can be purchased from retailers as well as from some phone companies directly. You should check to see if you will need to sign up to a caller display service to use the handset effectively.

If you have concerns about nuisance calls you should speak to your provider (or prospective provider) to find out about any other available services.

Read more about nuisance calls.

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How to Stop Unwanted Calls

Report Unwanted Calls

Why are you getting so many calls? Often, it’s scammers calling. Here’s what you need to know about unwanted calls and how to stop them. Share these articles, infographics, and videos with your friends, family, and followers.

Blocking Unwanted Calls

Scammers can use the internet to make calls from all over the world. They don’t care if you’re on the National Do Not Call Registry. That’s why your best defense against unwanted calls is call blocking. Which type of call-blocking or call-labeling technology you use will depend on the phone — whether it’s a mobile, traditional landline, or a home phone that makes calls over the internet (VoIP).

Read this article: How to Block Unwanted Calls

Watch these videos:

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Robocalls

If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. If you’re getting a lot of robocalls trying to sell you something, odds are the calls are illegal. Many are also probably scams.

Read this article: Robocalls

Report Robocalls

National Do Not Call Registry

The National Do Not Call Registry was created to stop sales calls from real companies. It’s free to register your home or mobile phone number.

Read this article: National Do Not Call Registry

Register for the National Do Not Call Registry

How to stop cold callers ringing your mobile number

We’ve all been there – an unrecognised number flashes up on your phone and it’s just an automated voice.

This is known as cold calling and it’s when you receive an uninvited call that attempts to sell you something.

A company called Keurboom did just that and received a record fine of £400,000 for making nearly 100 million nuisance calls.

Here are some top tips on how to stop yourself from falling victim to those annoying calls.

The law

You may think that cold calling is just a part of life you have to put up with but it’s actually against the law.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined Keurboom because they called people without their consent, breaking privacy laws.

The ICO received over 1000 complaints from some people who were called repeatedly, late at night.

They were fined because it’s illegal to make automated calls or send texts without your permission.

Register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

This is really easy – you can register landline or mobile numbers for free online or by calling 0845 070 0707.

It takes up to 28 days to come into effect but then companies aren’t allowed to phone you for marketing reasons unless you’ve given them express permission before or after signing up (although beware – you may not know you’ve done this, so see the section below).

If you have given a company permission by accident or you’ve changed your mind, just contact them directly and ask them to stop. BY law they have to.

Other companies offer a similar service to the TPS but they may charge you for it and telemarketers only have to check the TPS register.

Unfortunately, dodgy companies may still carry on bothering you even if you’re on the list, so that’s where some of the other tips come in.

Tick the right boxes

You know those little boxes you’re asked to tick (or not to tick) when you’re buying online or signing up to something?

Pay attention to them!

Sometimes ticking means the firm CAN share your details with other companies for marketing purposes.

Sometimes it means they CAN’T share your details.

And sometimes when you’re asked to tick two different boxes on the same page – one box is a “can” tick but the other is a “can’t”.

This is often how telemarketers get your numbers so, basically, make sure you read the small print so you don’t get caught out.

Don’t automatically reply to marketing texts

If a message is from a company you trust or from a five digit number, replying ‘STOP’ should do the job and you shouldn’t be charged.

But if it’s from anyone else it’s probably best to ignore it.

Replying will just confirm your number is a valid one and you may start seeing a lot more communications from them.

Instead, report the message to your network operator by forwarding the message to 7726 (it spells SPAM on the keypad – clever huh?)

Keep your number private

BT has a directory service which lets you find telephone numbers and addresses over the phone, online, or in the good old-fashioned phone book.

But if you don’t want your details to show up, you do have the option to sign up to the Ex-Directory scheme.

You can also opt out of the electoral roll’s “edited register” when you sign up to vote.

If you don’t your contact details could be sold to marketing companies.

Block the call

You can always report phone numbers to your network operator and find out what services they offer in terms of blocking calls (although they may charge for it).

Otherwise, you could buy yourself a call blocker app to use with your phone.

Or better still, you may already have one as part of your mobile deal.

Complain

If nothing else is working, think about complaining to the company and asking them to stop. This could be the most simple solution.

The caller has to give you the organisation’s name, address or a free phone number if you ask for it so that you can get in touch.

You can also complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office and the regulator may decide to take action against the company.

If you do that, it could be handy to make a note of the time and date of the call, the phone number (if you have it) and the company’s name – but it’s not essential.

Ignore them

If all else fails… just ignore them. Screen your calls and only answer those from numbers you know.

You may miss some calls and it won’t stop the phone from ringing – but it will guarantee you won’t have to hear any more sales pitches on the phone.

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I signed up with Telephone Preference Service to block unwanted sales calls, but still receive lots, which I think are from call centres abroad. What’s the best way to deal with them? Be rude? Slam down the phone? I’d like to think of something funny to say, or do something that means their time is wasted rather than mine. Any ideas?

Hanging on the telephone
I find the most satisfying way of dealing with these calls is simply to put the phone down gently and quietly – not on the receiver but next to it. You can then walk away serenely unruffled leaving the intrusive caller to try and work out whether you are still listening or if they have been cut off. Even better (given the chance) is to say “my partner/wife/husband deals with that – just a minute please” and then give them the same treatment. This method even works well on the pre-recorded calls.
While I am sure these people do not pay by the minute it must maximise their costs and cut down the number of other people they can bother. Replace the phone at your own convenience when they have gone away.
John Richards
Ivybridge, Devon

Play dead
Those who want to provide a conservatory/new kitchen etc retire in confusion when I tell them that I’m not expecting to live much longer, so I’m not embarking on any major expenditure. The tone of voice should be sepulchral, and it helps if you can achieve a slight wobble as if about to weep.
A Adcock, who wins this week’s £25 National Book Token
Oxford

Ex-con them
Last time someone rang me telling me I had “won” a free holiday (an obvious timeshare scam), the moment I mentioned that I had a county court judgment against me they put the phone down. I wish to make it quite clear that I do not have a CCJ against me but I will carry on using it as it nearly always works.
Lauren Isaac
Waltham, Near Grimsby

Honest broker
I have had recent success with being totally honest with them. It was my son’s birthday party and they accepted this was an unsuitable time. “I’ve just come in the house”, “I’m watching something good on TV”, “I’m on my way out”, “I’ve got friends round”: all have been true and I’ve never been rung back. A thanks for ringing is an optional extra as a parting shot.
Carolyn Barker
Chorley, Lancashire

Unscripted errors
Remember their side of the call is scripted, and so the fun begins when, as the other actor in this scene, you give some unexpected responses, to completely throw the progress of the play. Here are a couple which have worked for me:
Them: Hello, are you the homeowner?
You: No I’m a burglar – I’m a bit busy right now…
or:
You: What are you selling?
Them: No, we’re not selling anything, we just…
You: (interrupting): Well, I’m not buying anything, so what shall we talk about?
Ian Chambers
London

Hold on
Waste their time, but not your own. There is no need to raise your blood pressure arguing or being rude. Simply state: “can you hold on a minute? I need to take something out of the oven and I’ll be with you” (or similar excuse). Then walk off and do whatever you were doing. If you’re feeling vindictive and have nothing better to do, you could even pop back to the phone every couple of minutes and tell them you’re “nearly there”.
Hazel Guyler
Loughborough

Unplug
For the past 20 years, I have had a 100% success rate in blocking telesales and other nuisance calls. I don’t have a phone.
Andrew McGuire
Leicester

Child’s play
If I receive one of these unwanted sales calls in the early evening when I’m trying to cook for a grumpy two-year-old, I sometimes pass the phone to the aforementioned two-year-old, who is then happily occupied chatting for several minutes. It works for us! Helen Waterman
Swindon, Wiltshire.

Be kind
Remember that the people calling you are just trying to earn a living and are most likely very poorly paid. Although the companies and their marketing directors may deserve all the abuse and rudeness you can muster, the chances are that the person calling you doesn’t. Try to stay polite. Usually I say something like “Let me stop you there. Have you heard of the Telephone Preference Service? This means that it is illegal for your company to cold-call me, so could you please remove my details from your database? If your company calls again I will have to report them to the Information Commissioner.”
Adopt a firm, friendly, non-personal, non-threatening and slightly world-weary tone and there’s more chance that they will remove you from your list once you finish the call.
Adam Golberg
Staffordshire

A confession
These people are trained to answer anything you might say and to turn ‘objection handling’ into an opportunity for them. I know – to my shame, I was one of them for a very, very short time. The only thing I have found that works is to say “I am not interested”. If they then ask (as I was trained to do): “What, are you not interested in saving/making money?” reply firmly: “I am not interested in dealing with unsolicited callers. Please get off the line”.
Becky John
Southampton

Fax of life
Call a number you know to be a fax machine and record the noises it makes. Keep the recording next to your phone. When a telemarketer calls, play it to them. They will assume they have a fax number and remove it from their calling list.
Meredydd Wilson
Cincinnati, USA

Under canvas
If an unscrupulous double-glazing salesman calls, tell them you live in a tent. If they are selling central heating, tell them you’re about to move into an igloo. Simon Heaney
Wealdstone, Middlesex

Play the game
I like to use sales reps as my playthings. I have a number of tried and tested lines including “Praise the Lord, I’m glad you called. Have you heard about Jesus?” (no one likes a Bible basher)
When double glazers call and ask how many windows I would like to replace I either tell them I live in a caravan or give a ridiculous figure of, say, 60 for my council-owned palace.
If I’m particularly bored I do a bad Vicky Pollard impression or pretend I don’t speak English. But my particular favourite is just to declare the intended recipient dead and ask the caller whether they’d like to hold until they’re resurrected. The caller becomes very uncomfortable, apologises profusely and puts a note on their database not to bother you again.
Mags Korczak
Romford

Rental outcome
I tell them that the homeowner does not live here and that I just rent the property That seems to do the trick in most cases.
Chris Watkins
Wirksworth, Derbyshire

No sex please
I have a selection of responses: “I’m sorry I’m very preoccupied at the moment and this isn’t a good time” or “I’ve got a baby in the bath and can’t talk right now” – or even “I’m in the middle of having sex”. The latter is a last resort but effective. I get a spluttered apology and don’t get bothered again.
Janet Lawrence
Hove, East Sussex

Play dumb
My suggestion is that you act as if you are extremely stupid, and ask the most obvious questions about the product: the same type of questions over and over again. To finish off, act as if you are going to buy the product, then suddenly shout that you hate cold callers, and slam the phone down. This is best done in a weird voice.
Benjamin Baruch (aged 12)
London

Wisdom of age
When my mum (who is 82) receives an unwanted call she always says, very politely “Do I know you?”. Somehow this always seems to disconcert the caller, giving her the advantage and enabling her to say a polite farewell.
Maire Doyle
Cumbria

Dutch discourage
A caller once asked to speak to my husband and I said he was at home and they could speak to him but that he was very, very drunk. The phone went dead at the speed of light.
Karen Harrison
Tavistock

Surreal deal
For kitchen sales explain that you turned your kitchen into a bedroom and now eat only instant noodles via a kettle near the bathroom. Alternatively, ask to buy a huge quantity of whatever they are selling – then explain that you will need credit terms as you survive on government benefits alone.
Jon Harvey
Oxford

Have fun
I’ve had great fun with recording my own response to these calls. Take a little time to compose a script: thank the caller for ringing, confirm that the call is important to you and offer a menu of options which gradually becomes ever more absurd.
Record your script on a pocket memo machine and play it into the mouthpiece while you listen to the response. If it’s a recording at the other end, you’re wasting their money and if you’re lucky you’ll have a moron with a script of his or her own, desperately trying to make sense of the world as your message unfolds. It’s surprising how long it takes some of them to twig: I’ve frequently reached “… press 25 for lamb bhoona with extra chilli … press 26 to evict Tony from the house …” with some jaunty music fading in and out in the background before the line goes dead. I believe their calls are recorded, so the level of abuse emanating from the other end tends to be limited.
If you’re really annoyed and it’s a real person at the other end, use an Acme “thunderer” whistle (but warn the cat first).
Mike Turbine-Hamilton
Dalry in North Ayrshire.

Use the technology
You should subscribe to your telephone provider’s caller ID and voicemail services. Phone calls from unrecognised numbers can then be ignored, and any messages checked when convenient.
Ralph Moses
Manchester

Be a gentleman
To unwanted calls my husband would use a slow lugubrious voice and say “Good evening, Sir (or Madam). This is the butler speaking. I’m sorry, the maaaster is in his baaaath. May I convey a message to him?” Few took up the offer!
Valerie Lewis
Wantage, Oxfordshire

Be thankful
Working in a call centre is a low-paid, miserable, soul-destroying job. I’ve done it. The best way to deal with sales calls is to politely say “I am not interested, thank you, please remove my number from your list” and put the phone down gently without engaging in conversation, and get on with your business, thankful you don’t have do that for a living.
Debbie Lampon
London.

The last word
A highly effective technique I’ve used for my own mischievous amusement is to ask the uninvited caller for ‘the password’. The puzzled caller invariably states that they don’t know the password, at which point I inform them that I cannot proceed with this call unless I am given the password. The ensuing conversation has been known to develop into truly surreal territory, which I, at least, find amusing.
Chris May
Sabden, Lancashire

This week’s question
I broke up with my partner more than two years ago. Bored with being single, I’m thinking of joining a dating agency, but I’ve no idea where to start. How can I tell which are good and which are rubbish? How much should I pay? Do the expensive ones offer anything better? Or am I being a bit desperate and the right person will turn up anyway?

Any ideas? Email your suggestions to [email protected]

The Best Way to Stop Nuisance Calls

    7,055 Filed under – Hints and Tips, Nuisance Calls

Blocking nuisance calls is not an easy task. Follow our handy 10-step guide to stop unwanted interruptions.

Step 1 – Register with the Telephone Preference Service

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a central opt-out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. This is a free service.

All responsible companies screen their data against the TPS data, meaning that you won’t be contacted. However, it won’t stop you from receiving calls from irresponsible companies.

Step 2 – Ask politely to be removed from the calling list

If you have registered with the TPS and are still receiving nuisance phone calls, answer the phone and ask to be removed from the list.

Try not to get drawn into conversation either, as this may distract the agent from your request and result in your name being added to a ‘potential customer’ call-back list instead.

This isn’t an instant fix, as multiple companies may have your contact details. However, it should help to reduce the number of calls you receive.

This approach can also be used when dealing with automated calls by clicking through to speak to an agent – and then politely asking to be removed from the list.

Step 3 – Report the caller to the ICO

If you are still being pestered by calls from the same phone number, report the company to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office).

With recent changes making it easier to crack down on nuisance callers, as there is no longer a need to prove ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ for a company to be fined, it is an increasingly worthwhile exercise to report rogue companies to the ICO.

The ICO process over 8,000 complaints a month.

Step 4 – Invest in the BT8500 Advanced Call Blocker

If you are still being harassed by unwanted calls, it may be worth investing in the BT8500 Advanced Call Blocker (or a similar call screening system).

When programmed, such systems only let calls through from recognised friends and family, while allowing you to screen other calls.

Most systems will ask the caller to declare themselves. The phone will then ring and say “You have a call from – do you want to accept this call?” You can then choose to accept if it’s your dentist, and decline if it’s another nuisance call.

You can even set a different ringtone for recognised numbers, so you can decide whether or not to leave the sofa.

While it can be time consuming to program, it can make a big difference to the number of nuisance calls you receive.

Since our Editor has had the BT8500 answer machine, he has gone from dealing with 5 nuisance callers per day to none.

Step 5 – Block individual telephone numbers

If you are having a problem with just a handful of persistent callers, you should consider blocking them from calling altogether.

Telephone networks such as BT operate a ‘choose to refuse’ service for landlines, while most mobile phones will allow you to change the settings on any contact to block them from texting or calling.

Step 6 – Set different ringtones for different numbers

Set your mobile phone up so your favourite tune plays when your mum or best friend calls, and a generic tone (or even silent tone) for anything else.

This will take a bit of programming but will help to make sure you are only interrupted by someone who matters.

Step 7 – Download an app that will block unrecognised calls

Though not a basic feature, there are a number of apps available for smartphones (with mixed reviews) which claim to block calls from unrecognised numbers.

While availability will vary depending on the make of phone you have, these apps are worth a go if you are experiencing lots of issues with nuisance calls.

This ‘Ignore Calls’ app seems to have a number of good reviews – http://appcrawlr.com/android/ignore-calls

This type of app offers the only quick-fix option for blocking all unrecognised numbers, as it removes the need to block nuisance callers on an individual basis.

Step 8 – Switch on ‘do not disturb’

If you don’t fancy experimenting with a call-blocking app, you could try switching on the ‘do not disturb’ feature on your mobile phone.

You can then program your phone to allow calls from recognised numbers.

This option enables you to still receive all calls, allowing your dentist to leave you a voicemail if needs be, while ensuring that you don’t waste time with nuisance callers.

Step 9 – Change your phone number

As a drastic last resort, contact your telephone provider and have your phone number changed.

Step 10 – Be careful with your data

The last piece of advice is probably the simplest… Be careful about who you give your data to.

You probably add your phone number to several forms a year without giving it a second thought, whether taking out a warranty on a new TV, entering a competition online or booking a holiday.

Also pay attention to opt-in/opt-out clauses when entering your data, as lots of companies now use a mix of ‘tick to opt in’ and ‘tick to opt out’.

What has been your experience of blocking nuisance calls? Have you found a great app for blocking unknown numbers?

Leave your comments in an email to Call Centre Helper