How to deal with nuisance calls and texts

posted by in Budgeting

Worried woman on phone

They’ve rung you again…

It’s dinnertime. You’re just about to tuck into your food and maybe have a catch up with family or watch a favourite TV programme…then the phone rings.

You pick up thinking it might be a family member wanting a chat or your other half saying they’re stuck in traffic. Instead, you’re greeted by a telemarketer.

The clamour of noise you hear can only mean a busy call centre, and already you have an inkling of what’s coming. Your eyes roll as they waffle on about “recent government legislation” or a “debt consolidation scheme“.

Sound familiar?

From forgetting to tick the privacy box on an online form to sending off for competitions, there are myriad ways that your number can be passed on to unsolicited marketer.

We recently released an infographic telling you all about the journey of your data and how unsolicited marketers may use it. Let’s look at how you can put them on hold once and for all…

Tell them to stop calling

Sometimes it’s really that simple. Cold-calling telemarketers – the smart ones at least – know there’s no point wasting time on a person that’s not interested in their wares.

Politely but firmly tell them you’re not interested and that further contact will result in them being reported to the Information Commisioner’s Office (ICO).  Follow this up with a letter to the company to confirm what you’ve said on the phone.

If you’re not sure who to complain to, Which? can tell you who you need to contact.

Make your phone number ex-directory

Get in touch with your telephone service provider and tell them you want your number removed from the phone book. It’s free to sign up and gives you extra peace of mind that your details are harder to come by.

You can also sign up with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). This is the official register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It’s a legal requirement that all organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) do not call numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent.

Buy a call blocker

These range between £40 and £95 and let you block numbers by area code and type. The more expensive models also make the caller give their name so you can decide whether or not you want to speak to them before you answer the phone.

Prevent future calls by checking terms and conditions

Whenever you fill in a form online, there’s usually a couple of boxes to be ticked before you click submit. One of them is usually the ‘I agree to the terms and conditions’ box which the majority of us click in a hurry without reading.

It takes a minute to open up the T&Cs, press F3 on your keyboard (or Apple key + F on a Mac) and just do a quick search. Look out for words like ‘third parties’, ‘trusted parties’ and ‘marketing’ are worth looking out for.

Sometimes there’s a separate tickbox to the T&C box, asking you outright if your details can be passed on to a third party. Be sure to check the small print for this box too. Depending on how it’s worded, ticking the box could mean you consent to your details being passed on, or you don’t – marketers can be sneaky in how they word these.

So read these tickbox statements carefully, to understand what the company’s marketing team are trying to get you to do, and do the opposite.

I’m getting unwanted marketing texts – can I stop them as well?

Yes you can. First and foremost, never EVER reply to a company you don’t know and trust. Even if the message says that you can reply with STOP to come off their mailing list. If you reply they know you’re a real person and may then inundate you with even more texts!

Report any unwanted marketing texts that you get to your network provider. Most of them have special numbers you can forward the texts on to:

  • O2, Orange and T Mobile: 7726

  • Vodafone: 87726

  • 3: 37726

You can also complain to the Information Commissioner on 0303 123 1113 or email them at casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk

For more information, read our blogpost on how to deal with spam texts.

What’s being done about it?

Right now we’re compiling information from clients on the experiences they’ve had with unsolicited marketers. We’re going to speak to regulators about our concerns over unsolicited calls, and we need evidence of just how bad the problem is.

Read about our #gottheirnumber campaign and find out how you can help. If you’ve had issues with unsolicited contact, please get in touch with us. Your story could mean a pivotal turn in how cold and nuisance callers conduct themselves.

Rachel Connor has been with the charity for over 8 years, starting in Helpline before joining the MoneyAware team in 2012. Rach enjoys travelling, video games, watching anime, reading and creative writing in her spare time (currently writing a Young Adult fantasy series). She had a previous life as head writer on Cartoon Network's Ed Edd n Eddy and as a copywriter for LivingSocial. She's also written comics and graphic novels for the animated series Regular Show.

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  • ScottMcGready

    That sounds excellent but the TPS can only help you if the companies actually check it before calling (they’re meant to but some of them don’t). Besides sometimes in the small print for various things there’s a clause which allows them to contact you/sell your details without violating the TPS rules.

    I got fed up after 15 calls in a day and made NixCall (an app for iPhone) which can help block them.