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How to stop nuisance calls

If you want to stop getting nuisance calls, there are a number of different steps you can take.

These include:

Blocking certain numbers or types of calls

Your phone provider might offer a service that lets you block nuisance calls.

Depending on the service, these could block:

  • calls from overseas
  • calls where the number has been withheld
  • lists of specific phone numbers

Talk to your phone provider about what services they offer for blocking nuisance calls. You might have to pay a fee to use them.

Call blockers

You might also want to look into a 'call blocker'. These are devices which you can attach to your phone that block different types of call. Some phones already have call blocking built in.

Before you start using a call blocking service, make sure it won't block calls you actually want to get. For example, if it blocks all withheld numbers you may miss important calls from genuine organisations like hospitals.

Registering with the Telephone Preference Service

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) lets you opt out of getting any sales calls you didn't ask for.

Telesales companies legally have to check the TPS register first before making any live calls. If your name is on the register they are not allowed to call you.

You can either register with the TPS online or do it by calling 0345 070 0707. It's free to register and it can take up to 28 days to take effect.

If you use a mobile phone, you can add your number to the TPS register by texting 'TPS' and your email address to 85095. You'll get a number from TPS saying your number's been added to its database.

Registering with TPS will not stop all nuisance calls. Companies are still allowed to call you for market research, as long as they do not take any information from you or try to sell you anything.

Paying attention to marketing

Sometimes a company may contact you because you gave them permission to without realising.

When you have to give your contact details to a company (for example, when you're buying something, entering a competition or using a price comparison website), make sure you pay attention to the 'opt-in' or 'opt-out' box.

These are sections on forms that ask your permission to let the company (or another company they partner with) to contact you in the future.

An 'opt-in' box asks you to tick a box if you agree to be contacted.

An 'opt-out' box means you're agreeing to be contacted if you do not tick the box.

Read these boxes carefully to make sure you know whether to tick the box.

Screening your calls

You might be able to 'screen' your calls depending on the phone you have and the phone provider you use.

Screening means finding out who's calling you in advance so you can decide whether to answer.

Some phones display the number of the caller (also known as 'Caller ID' or 'Calling Line Identity'). Others have an answering machine or voicemail built in.

Both of these will help you choose whether to answer the call or call the person back.

Going ex-directory

Some telesales companies use the phone directory to build lists of people to contact.

If you go ex-directory (have your name taken off), this might help stop business getting your number in this way.

Blocking spam texts

If you get a 'spam' text message trying to sell you something or promote something, you may want to stop more being sent.

If you recognise the sender, or the text was sent to you by a shortcode (a number that's usually only 5 digits long), you can reply to the text with the word 'STOP'.

This will tell the sender you don't want to get any more text messages. You should not be charged for this.

If the text message is from an unknown sender or an organisation you do not recognise, do not reply. This might confirm to the sender that your number is active and you might end up getting more messages.

Instead, report the spam text to your network operator by forwarding the text to 7726.

The easy way to remember the 7726 number is that it spells 'SPAM' on a phone keypad.

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