Most of us have at some time or another experienced the inconvenience of unwanted telephone calls, intrusions made by strangers wishing to sell us something, tell us something or engage us in faux friendly conversation for the sake of research or similar greater good. Whatever their motive, such calls are for the most part generally a nuisance and something we’d rather not endure.
But we needn’t simply wish them away. There are measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of being plagued by such calls.
Just say no
First of all, and most straightforwardly, you can simply ask whomever is calling you to stop and to remove your number from their database. In the event of the call being a recorded one, don’t just hang up. Listen, if you can bear it, to the whole of the message as often it will include an option to unsubscribe effectively from receiving such calls.
On a more proactive level, you can also sign up to something called the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – an entirely free facility run by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) which prevents your telephone number being made available to organisations who may otherwise make marketing or sales calls to your number. Register directly online or via telephone on 0845 070 0707.
The service starts working about a month after you’ve registered. If after this time you still receive some nuisance calls you can complain directly to the TPS via their website.
If the calls you’re getting are silent, these can be generated from call centres by automatic equipment. If the calls continue, try if possible to capture the cold-caller’s number (dialling 1471 should do it if you have no caller display) then you can complain to Ofcom at ofcom.org.uk which can and has fined companies for harassing customers with silent and abandoned calls. TalkTalk, for example, was recently issued with a whopping £750,000 for imposing exactly this kind of inconvenience.
Alternatively, you might want to consider using a call blocking service. There are some dedicated gadgets on the market that simply plug into your home phone and enable you to screen incoming calls. Check out http://www.callblocker.co.uk/.
If you do find yourself on the receiving end of a cold call, frustrating though it may be, there are some golden rules to follow by way of damage limitation. First of all, stay calm. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated or pressurised by the caller. Under no circumstances should you reveal any personal details, be it your name, address or financial information. If the call is a legitimate one, from a company you might be interested in, you can call them directly.
If you suspect the call is a scam, do not press any buttons on your phone during the call. Such an action might redirect you to a premium-rate number for which you will be charged.
Lastly, if you succumb to buying something following a cold call, you usually have seven working days to change your mind under distance selling regulations.
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