How to protect yourself from nuisance calls and messages

A significant number of people living in the UK receive an average of over four nuisance calls every week. For most of these people, such nuisance calls are not only annoying and irritating, but they are also disruptive to one’s day to day living. In some scenarios, a consistent reception of such calls can throw some individuals into a state of distress and trauma. But what can you do when nuisance calls and messages get to your nerves? Are there courses of action that individuals can take to curb nuisance calls? This guide provides tips and advice on what to do when you receive nuisance calls and messages, and methods you can adopt to minimise them.

What are Nuisance Calls ?

Nuisance calls refers to unwanted and unrequested calls made to your phone line. These could be telemarketing calls, prank calls, and sometimes, silent calls. Receiving unwanted calls from unknown callers is so annoying and can sometimes raise your anxiety levels if the caller remains silent or tries to pull a prank on you. Most of these calls are persistent and often illegal. However, the good news is that they can be avoided.

How to Minimise Nuisance Calls

There are various methods that phone users can apply to control the rate at which they receive nuisance calls. Some of these methods include call blocking, registration with TPS, marketing evaluation, and going ex-directory. In this section, you will find information that highlights details about each of these methods.

1. Calls Blocking

Did you know that you can block nuisance calls at considerable charges? Various product and service providers enable phone users to block specified types of calls. Such calls may include the following;

  • International calls.
  • Calls from withheld numbers.
  • A selected list of up to ten numbers.

All you need to do is to ensure that you are enabled to block your selected numbers, and your paid service will get the job done.

Tips on How to Go About Calls Blocking

If you opt to go for calls blocking, here are a few tips that you can consider to leverage the service.

  • Think About a Call Blocker

A Call Blocker is a service that can be installed on your phone. In most cases, however, a Call Blocker comes with the phone as one of the elements of your phone’s service. With this service, you can block various call types as per your needs. Some Call Blockers may require individuals calling you to state their name before the call can be completed. This way, you get to receive calls from people or institutions that you can identify easily. However, before installing and activating any Call Blocker, ensure that you have gone through terms, conditions, and policies of using such a service. This is the only way you can verify that the Call Blocker you subscribe to does not block calls that you might be interested in receiving.

  • Liaise with Your Service Provider for the Best Deals

Different service providers offer a myriad of features and functionalities for call blocking. This explains why various providers charge higher than others. You might want to check with your service provider for the best service and favourable charges.

2. Registration with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

TPS is UK’s ‘Do Not Call’ service that allows phone users to reject incoming telesales calls that are unwelcome. Registering with TPS is absolutely free.

Here is an outline of what you need to know about how the TPS service works.

  • How to Register with TPS

You can enroll your phone number on the TPS register by contacting 0345 070 0707 or through the TPS Website. This is available to both landline and mobile phone numbers. Mobile phone users can also use the SMS option to get registered. With the SMS option, all you need to do is text the code ‘TPS’ and the Telephone Preference Service email to 85095. In response to your request, TPS will send you a text message to confirm that your number has been added to the TPS database.

  • The Legal Advantage of Registering with TPS

Legally, the TPS register is the only service that organisations and institutions are mandated to solicit permission from before making a telesales call to phone users. In other words, telemarketers are legally constrained from making calls to numbers registered with TPS. However, if you had previously given any firm permission to call you via your phone number, then it would not limit them from calling you, even when you have been registered with TPS. In such cases, you can contact the organisation with the permission to call you and request them to stop making telemarketing calls to your number. This should preferably be done in writing.

  • Reporting Nuisance Calls

It is important to know that organisations may still be permitted to make calls to TPS registered numbers when conducting genuine market research. Such calls should, however, not be used as an avenue to collect data for future marketing calls. Since there are firms that break the laws regulating telesales calls, users can report nuisance calls from such organisations to the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO). The ICO will then act against the defaulting telemarketing firms.

  • TPS Protect App

The Telephone Preference Service has launched a mobile application referred to as TPS Protect. The aim of the app is to enable users to filter out unsolicited calls by screening all incoming calls. The TPS Protect App is available for free download on Android and iOS. However, if you want additional features for the app, you will be required to make a 99p monthly subscription.

Note that we do not have any affiliation with the Telephone Preference Service. It is, therefore, crucial to scrutinise and evaluate every information offered by TPS before you enroll for their service. This should give you an understanding of the services offered and the charges you will be required to pay for service subscription.

3. Evaluate Marketing Options When Issuing Your Number

When you give your contacts to a firm through its marketing strategies, you automatically give them permission to call you for telesales and telemarketing purposes. When you provide your contacts for such reasons as online shopping, e-competition, or use of a product comparison website, you should evaluate all the marketing elements applied. Most importantly, check out for the following;

  • Opt-in Box

Ticking the opt-in box confirms that you have agreed to be contacted by the company in question and other trusted parties.

  • Opt-out Box

Ticking the opt-out box indicates that you are not in agreement with the company’s strategy to contact you for marketing purposes. Note that if you do not tick on the opt-out box, you are automatically giving the company the legal capacity to contact you for telesales. Some companies will also provide a pop-up box that invites you to subscribe to their newsletters. Ticking on such a pop-up box gives the company permission to contact you through their newsletters.

4. Going Ex-Directory

Going ex-directory refers to the removal or exclusion of your number from the telephone directory. When your number is in the telephone directory, businesses that rely on directory services for telemarketing might use that route to call you. Going ex-directory hinders such businesses from using the telephone directory to make unsolicited calls.

Actions to Take When You Receive Nuisance Calls and Messages

You now know how to minimise nuisance calls. However, there are chances that you might receive a few unwelcome messages or calls. The good thing is that there are actions that you can take to stop such messages and calls from disrupting your daily life.
Here is a highlight of actions that you can take when you receive nuisance calls and messages.

  • Screen Your Calls

Call screening is one of the most effective ways of choosing which calls to answer and the ones you would like to call back. Call screening can be done through a Calling Line Identification, also known as Caller ID, Voicemail, and Answer Machine. The Caller ID method, for example, allows phone users to identify all the incoming calls. The number of the caller is displayed on your phone’s screen, and in some cases, the caller’s name is also displayed. Most of the providers of the Caller ID service will charge you for having the caller’s details displayed on your screen.

It is essential to know that sometimes the caller’s number displayed on your screen might not be the real number that they are using to call you. This is why you should treat all unknown calls with a lot of caution.

  • File a Complaint

Agencies and authorities responsible for the regulation of the telecommunication sector rely on filed Complaints to act against organisations that make unlawful calls. When you receive a nuisance message or call, consider making a complaint with such a regulator as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Filing a complaint should have a brief description of the call, including the number you were called from, the name of the calling organisation (if you know it), date, and the time you received the call. However, even without such details, the regulatory authorities are always open to complaints.

  • Request for the Details of the Caller

Rejecting a call is one of the easiest ways that most people apply to do away with a nuisance call. However, if you choose to engage the caller, it is essential that you request their details. You can ask the caller to give you information related to the organisation’s name, name of the caller, free telephone number, and address.
This information may come in handy when filing a request with the organisation to stop calling you or sending telesales messages. If you are not sure of your interest in the service or product being promoted on call, the best thing to do would be to reject the call. Rejecting the call will give you time to weigh your options as you consider whether the service or product in question is worth it.

  • Be Cautious of Who You Give Your Details

When you receive a nuisance call, you must be very cautious about how you issue out your personal information. Some nuisance callers may be out to phish your personal information for fraudulent purposes, that is why you should not be quick to give out any confidential information.

Here are some tips on what to do with your personal information when you receive a nuisance call.

  • Reject the call if possible.
  • Do not issue any information linked to your finances as this may result in irreparable financial consequences.
  • Never respond to a call by stating your name or phone number as a way of initiating greetings. Allow the caller to introduce themselves first.
  • Avoid using your personal details in your voicemail or as answerphone message.
  • Request for the caller’s name and other basic details to confirm that they are from a reliable source.
  • Do not always rely on the number displayed in the Calling Line Identity service. Sometimes the number displayed is not the actual number being used to call you.
  • If you receive a call requesting you to give your financial information, reject the call. This is to allow you to call the number on the company’s website, government’s site, phone book, or your account statement for verification. Report the number if you cannot verify the authenticity of the source.
  • When phoning a company, government agent, or institution to verify a caller, do not do so immediately. Give yourself some minutes for the call to clear. Otherwise, you may be speaking to an accomplice or another fraudster without your knowledge.