- Nuisance and malicious calls
- Direct Marketing and other unsolicited calls
- Scams and premium rate numbers
1. Nuisance and malicious calls
You may feel that calls from telesales companies are becoming a serious annoyance, that you are receiving an unacceptable number of silent calls, or perhaps you have a more serious problem with abusive or harassing calls.
Here are some general tips that will help prevent these calls:
- Don't give away any personal information if you don't know the caller. It sounds obvious but many people answer their phone by stating their name or telephone number. If the caller has dialled your number at random they are more likely to remember it and call you again if you reinforce their memory in this way. Answer the phone with a simple 'hello' or wait for the caller to speak first
- If you need to hang up, walk away from the phone for a few moments before doing so
- An answerphone (if you have one) can be a useful tool for screening your calls
- Try to keep any voicemail or answerphone messages short and concise - don't ever say that you're out of the house, just state that can't take the call
- More often than not, nuisance callers will target women - a male voice on your answerphone message may offer more of a deterrent than a female voice
- Consider changing your phone book listing if it reveals your gender or marital status - you'll need to contact our support team via the Help Assistant to do this
You may find the following call features help you to deal with these calls:
- Caller Display shows the number that's calling you before you answer (you'll need a compatible phone for this)
- Anonymous Call Rejection lets you bar incoming calls from callers who withhold their number (this won't block calls where the number is unavailable for other reasons)
Read more about these work in our Call Features guide.
If you continue to have problems, contact our support team and we'll do our best to help. However, if you are receiving abusive, threatening or obscene calls, you should report them to the police.[Top]
2. Direct Marketing and other unsolicited calls
If you don't want to receive unsolicited direct marketing calls from companies and organisations, we recommend registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The TPS is a UK communication initiative set up with the aim of preventing unwanted unsolicited commercial phone calls, telesales, and business-related nuisance calls. It helps you to make sure your phone number is no longer available to telemarketers. It's unlawful to make unsolicited direct marketing calls to individuals who have registered their number with the TPS.
- To register for the service visit the TPS website.
If you are receiving unsolicited sales and marketing recorded messages, and you have not given prior consent to receive such messages, you can ask the marketer to stop sending these. They are legally obliged to act upon your request.
- You can complain to either the Direct Marketing Association or the Information Commissioner's Office.
3. Scams and premium rate numbers
When calling your bank or financial institution only dial the number from a trustworthy published source; for example the number published on your bank statement or on the back of your credit card. Please be aware that calls to 090 numbers can incur significant charges.
If your bill shows calls to premium numbers that you've not made, check the equipment connected to your telephone line (other than your telephone handset). One or more of these may be dialling out to premium rate numbers without you knowing.
- Fax dial-up modem (not your broadband router) - You should disconnect this from your telephone line and run a virus check. A virus may be dialling out to premium rate numbers when you switch your computer on.
- Security and fire alarm systems - Many of these connect to a telephone line. (This is because if a break in or fire happens an alert can be raised, as well as to ensure that the alarm is still connected to the alarm company). You should contact the alarm company and ask under what circumstances the alarm system automatically dials them.
You can find out more about who provides any premium rate number at the Phonepay Plus (the premium rate services regulator) website. This won't always show you the company, but will let you find out the operator (e.g. BT operate '09' numbers for other companies).[Top]
This page last updated 8th October 2010