How to stop nuisance telephone calls and SMS text messages
Are you fed up with nuisance telephone calls, faxes, SMS text messages, junk mail, and fund-raising requests from charities you don't want to support? While it is not possible to stop them completely, there are a number of things you can do to reduce them significantly.
Nuisance telephone calls
Register your telephone number(s) with the Telephone Preference Service. If you have more than one telephone number, you will need to include each number when you register. Don't forget to include:
- Your main telephone number
- Direct dial (DDI) numbers
- Non-geographic numbers, such as 0845, 0870, 0800 numbers
- Mobile numbers (this will also stop nuisance SMS text messages)
Remember that if you normally only publish a non-geographic number, you will also have a geographic number that it points to. You will need to register both numbers. If you are not sure what telephone numbers you have, check your telephone bill or ask your service provider.
Nuisance SMS text messages
Register your mobile telephone number with the Telephone Preference Service to stop nuisance text messages. This will also stop nuisance telephone calls to that number.
To stop nuisance faxes, register your fax number with the Fax Preference Service.
To stop junk mail, register your address with the Mailing Preference Service.
Requests from charities you don't want to support
While we don't want to discourage you from supporting the reputable charities working for the things you believe in and want to support, sometimes less-reputable fund-raising organisations can get carried away pestering people who are never going to support them.
You can now register your preferences for supporting charities and fund raising using the Fund-raising Preference Service.
How did the caller/sender get my number?
There are a number of ways that telephone numbers can be obtained.
- From a telephone or trade directory.
- From your company web site.
- A company you already have an account with (for example, a bank, BT or Virgin Media) might try to contact you to sell you services in addition to the one(s) you already have.
- You might have filled in a form (either paper or on a web site) and neglected to state that you don't wish to be contacted for marketing purposes or have your details shared with a third party. This is usually in the form of a checkbox at the bottom of the form, helpfully in small text so it's easily missed.
- The caller/sender might have used (or bought numbers from a company that used) some software that generates a list of every possible telephone number. For unsolicited SMS text messages, this is almost certainly the case.
What happens after I have registered?
UK law states that in order to make a marketing telephone call or send an unsolicited text message to a particular number, that number must have been checked for TPS registration within the last 30 days. This means that it can take up to 30 days for the nuisance telephone calls and SMS text messages to stop.
A company may perform their own checking, or if they buy a list of numbers from a third party, these numbers may come pre-checked (in which case, the list will only be valid for 30 days). Regardless, your case will always be against the caller/sender, not the third party, and it is up to said caller/sender to make their own case against the third party.
I have registered my numbers and I still receive nuisance telephone calls and SMS text messages
While many businesses making marketing telephone calls act responsibly and within the law, a few do not and make no attempt to screen out TPS registered numbers. Also, there is no way to stop calls originating outside the UK as these are not subject to UK law.
However, there are a number of things you can do.
Nuisance telephone calls
- When you receive a call, make it clear to the caller that their call is unwanted. Explain that your number is registered with TPS and that they are calling you illegally. If you continue to receive calls from the same company, ask to speak to someone in management, or ask for the Managing Director.
- If your calls are routed through a telephone system, most modern telephone systems have the ability to reject incoming calls from specific numbers, or route them differently – for example, to a recorded message that tells repeat callers that their calls are unwanted. To set this up requires changes to your telephone system, which we might be able to help with.
- If the call is to a mobile phone, you might be able to block calls from the caller's number depending on the device you are using.
- Report nuisance telephone calls to the Information Commissioner's Office.
- If you would like to play them at their own game, try this telemarketing counterscript!
Nuisance SMS text messages
- Forward the message to SPAM (7726).
- You might be able to block text messages from the sender's number or by keyword depending on the device and/or SMS application you are using.
- Report nuisance SMS text messages to the Information Commissioner's Office.
Some cold callers will try to bypass the regulations by saying they are carrying out a survey. Technically, a survey is not covered by the regulations, so a call for a survey to a TPS registered number is legal.
If you agree to the survey, the caller will use that to gain permission to continue with their sales pitch, thus bypassing your TPS registration because you unwittingly gave your consent.
For example, if they ask you about retirement, and you say that you will be retiring soon, they might then ask if it is OK for companies providing services to the retired to call you. If you agree, you open yourself up to more calls.
The best thing to do is to treat 'surveys' like any other cold call and refuse to take part.
Is there any point in complaining about nuisance calls and texts?
You might think that registering your complaint about nuisance calls and texts is a waste of time as no action is ever taken. It is well worth complaining as these reports on the ICO web site will attest.
Please note that all SEP Solutions' telephone numbers are TPS registered and we always report unsolicited sales and marketing calls made to us to the ICO and TPS.