Unwanted phone calls can be a real nuisance. Use this guide on what to do if you're plagued with unwanted calls and tips on how to avoid them.
1 Report a company using our tool
You can complain about a company or a number making nuisance calls and texts to a number of organisations including the TPS, your phone operator, Ofcom (which covers silent and abandoned calls) or the ICO.
The threshold at which the ICO is allowed to act has been lowered and they have the power to fine companies up to £500,000 that break the rules on unsolicited texts and phone calls.
Which? will continue to work with all the relevant bodies to ensure that efforts to tackle the problem are stepped up.
2 Register with the TPS
If you're receiving unwanted calls, you should register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The TPS is free to use and is a register which records your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
If you’ve registered with the TPS and still receive unwanted calls, you can make a complaint to the TPS and it will investigate.
But the TPS doesn’t have enforcement powers so it can’t penalise the company responsible for bombarding you with unsolicited calls.
Although the TPS is unable to prosecute, it does send complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) which has the power to take action.
It's against the law for companies to call consumers who are registered on the TPS without their clear consent.
It’s worth noting that people have had mixed experiences after registering with the TPS. Some have told Which? they noticed a reduction in unwanted calls, while some say they still receive them.
3 Don't consent to be contacted
If you're registered with the TPS, third parties are not allowed to call you but some companies still do so.
Third party marketing is when your details are sold on to numerous other companies for marketing purposes.
Look out for tick boxes that request consent for your details to be passed onto third parties, if you do not want other companies to contact you, make sure you haven’t ticked the box.
If you've consented to receive marketing from a specific company then this organisation is allowed to call you - even if you've registered with the TPS.
But, companies must stop calling you if you explicitly ask them to.
If you fill in a form and have to enter your phone number, you can use trueCall38.
Simply enter the phone number 0333 88 88 88 88 as your phone number, and if the company calls a short recorded message is played:
'trueCall38 is handling my calls. I prefer not to be contacted by phone, so please contact me via my email address. Goodbye!'
4 Consider call blocking technology
Phone companies offer a number of services that can help block nuisance calls.
Some of these services are free but for some, monthly charges can apply, and may vary depending on what package you're signed up to.
Services include caller display, which shows you the number of the person calling; incoming call blocking, which prevents selected numbers from getting through; and caller identification - or 1471.
In an ideal world it wouldn't be necessary to use call blocking equipment but this can protect you and older or vulnerable relatives from nuisance callers.
Systems cost between £40 and £120 and can be very effective. In a recent trial by Trading Standards the trueCall system blocked 98% of unwanted phone calls.
For more information on the different types of services available, take a look at Which?'s guide to phone blocking services.
5 Join our Calling Time campaign
People are being bombarded with unsolicited calls and texts, especially from PPI and Personal Injury companies.
Back in December an official task force – chaired by Which? – outlined 15 recommendations for action on nuisance calls and texts.
But our analysis of data from the Information Commissioner’s Office shows that since the task force reported, there have been around 61,500 official complaints about nuisance calls and texts.
With just 2% of people who receive unwanted calls reporting them to the regulator, the true figure is in the millions.
We are campaigning for:
- the Government to make top staff legally accountable for their company's nuisance calls, and require businesses to show their number when they call. Our new research found that eight in 10 people support greater accountability over nuisance calls, including directors being personally fined if their company breaks the rules.
- businesses to support our campaign by making a public commitment to tackle nuisance calls
- regulators to give people more power by putting them in control of how their personal data is used.