Nuisance Calls, Cold Calls, Scam Calls, Unsolicited Sales Calls… whatever you want to call them, we all hate them. They’re one of the UK’s most-hated marketing tactics, and yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a group of people where none of them feel plagued by them. However, there are some simple steps you can take to dramatically reduce the number of cold calls you receive at home, at work and on your mobile, so don’t put up with them!
1. Never Give Out Your Actual Number
This list only really needs to be one tip long, if you use our free service, Disguise My Number. This works by giving you up to 5 free throwaway numbers at a time, which sit on top of your real number, forwarding all the calls they receive your way, without the person calling needing to know your real number. The moment you start getting any nuisance calls or you feel that the number’s been sold on, you can just go into your account and press delete. Instantly, the calls stop.
The great thing is you can set up several “fake” or “disguised” numbers that all point to your real number and then label them within your account. Buying a sofa but don’t want to be plagued by offers for months to come? Label the one you give them as “sofa”. Not fussed about an extended warranty for your telly? Label that one “Generic High Street Electrical Shop”. You get the picture.
The number also only allows phone calls through, not texts, so you can smile smugly knowing you’ll never get those dreaded spam messages about your PPI or that accident you may-or-may-not have had years ago…
Give it a try now, at www.disguisemynumber.co.uk
The rest of this guide assumes you’ve already given out your real number in the past (d’oh!). At least next time you change your number, you know what to do!
2. In the UK? Register with the Telephone Preference Service
It’s law in the UK that any company making promotional phone calls MUST check that the number they’re calling isn’t registered on the Telephone Preference Service, which is the central opt-out for marketing calls. It’s FREE to register, so if you ever see any website trying to charge you, run a mile (and report it). Register now, before you forget.
If you work at or run a marketing firm, check out our API to the TPS databases and integrate it into your phone system’s call flow for all outbound calls; it could save you from a £500,000 fine!
3. Go Ex-Directory & Opt-Out
Remember the phone book? Yep, that still exists. Plus, it’s online now as well as in paper form, so even easier for dodgy types to get hold of your phone number. The best policy is to go ex-directory and also opt-out of the electoral role’s “edited register” next time you register to vote or update your details.
More info on going ex-directory.
4. Check the Small Print
Be very careful when filling in forms (both paper and online) to either tick, or not tick, the boxes as appropriate. Often companies try and catch you out by changing which boxes you need to leave ticked and which should be unticked, so lots of people end up granting permission for their phone numbers to be sold without realising.
Of course, this isn’t an issue if you’re using Disguise My Number and giving out one of those numbers instead, if you really have to give a phone number at all. If you give a disguised number out and get nuisance calls, all you need to do is delete the number and the calls stop instantly, and they never get hold of your real number.
5. Don’t Believe the Lies!
Don’t be pressurised by cold callers. The same once-in-a-lifetime deal that is available today only and will never, ever, ever, ever be available ever again, was almost certainly the same yesterday, today and forever.
6. Report ‘Em!
Don’t forget that you can report the nuisance callers. These links are for UK readers but there will be similar authorities in your country:
- If you think the call is fraudulent as well as a nuisance, you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
- You can also report nuisance calls to the ICO, complain to the TPS or contact your telephone provider for help.
- Sometimes, people abuse revenue-generating numbers by giving you a missed call from a number starting 070 or 076 and hoping you call it back, earning them money. If this happens to you, DON’T call it back, report it to PhonepayPlus instead.
7. Forward Spam Text Messages
If you get a spam text about PPI, accident claims or anything else, forward it to 7726 (which spells SPAM on your keypad). Of course, if you’ve only given out a number disguised with Disguise My Number, you won’t receive any spam texts as those numbers are for voice calls only. Have you disguised your number yet?
8. Play Along and Waste Their Time
If you get a scam call, such as one pretending to be from Microsoft to “fix issues we’ve detected with your computer” or from the police asking you to transfer all your savings into a “safe” bank account, you can do your good deed for the day whilst having some fun too. If you’ve got time, play along but without giving any real personal info or installing anything on your computer. You’ll waste their time and prevent them from calling someone else more vulnerable who might fall for it.
9. Try and Record The Nuisance Calls
Especially for scam calls but for nuisance calls too, you could ask them to call you back on a Telecoms Cloud or Disguise My Number phone number which has call recording enabled – and then pass the recording as evidence to the police.
For more information on how to record phone calls, check out Record Your Call.
10. Get Actively Involved in the Fight
The UK consumer group Which? has launched a campaign called “Calling Time”. Check it out: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/nuisance-calls-and-texts/