Both Julian and I are being plagued by unsolicited calls at the moment and we have now got to the stage where we would like to fight back. Recent calls have been about:-
PPI – “We have £4,265 put aside for your PPI claim”
Personal Injury claim – “You were in a traffic accident in October and we have been asked by your insurance company to claim for you”
Pension review – “The government has tasked us with reviewing your pension fund for free”
Credit Improvement – “Your credit score is going down, we can help”
Investment – “The shares of XXXX are an immediate buy……”
We seem to be averaging two a day and even Julian’s natural courtesy is becoming a little thin; I have no problem with being rude!
To deal with this encroaching menace we need to divide the calls between the UK based calls and the ones from abroad and it can be hard to tell them apart. Assuming the number is not withheld and it looks like a UK sourced call, this may not be the case, as international calls can be inserted into the UK network and appear like they come from any exchange in the UK.
For UK sourced calls
The first step is to register all of the numbers you use, both land line and mobile on the Telephone Preference Service, (TPS), http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/index.html. This is free and takes only a minute or so. It will take 28 days for your registration to become effective, after which time UK based callers are committing an offense under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. This is ultimately enforced by the Information Commissioner, but action can take a long time to happen, although the fines can be huge.
If you are still getting calls from UK companies, you can complain, but you will need to log the calls and give some details. The Telephone Preference Service gives details at https://complaints.tpsonline.org.uk/consumer.
To make this as effective as possible, DO NOT give out your phone number to anyone who does not absolutely need it and tick the “do not call” boxes on any forms you have to fill in. So ignore telephone surveys, street surveys, web surveys or any other random idiots asking you for your phone number on spurious grounds.
Any legitimate business will not ring someone who has asked for no calls as they are likely to be wasting their time. I would assume that any other callers are chancers or scammers, so I have no problem with putting the phone down, being rude or blowing a safety whistle into the mouthpiece.
For Non-UK sourced calls
UK legal jurisdiction does not apply here, so the TPS will be ineffectual. Getting rid of these is much harder, but restricting the information you give out will be a good start.
DO NOT give out your phone number to anyone who does not absolutely need it and tick the “do not call” boxes on any forms you have to fill in. Be especially cautious of web forms and competitions on any social media platform. Most web-based marketing tracking software will look for usernames, default e-mails and phone numbers on the displaying devices, so either do not fill in the details or load it with details that you are happy to ignore.
Having taken those precautions, you can assume that any unwanted callers are scammers and rogues, so they can be treated as such! One of the funniest suggestions I heard, (although, don’t try it as I can think of so many ways it could go wrong), was from a young mum with a 3 years old child who suggested handing over the phone to the child and say that Santa was on the line!
Financial Services Calls
As IFAs we are severely restricted in the telemarketing calls we can make and the claims we can make during a call. We have to state explicitly who we are and what the call is about, giving you an opportunity to say “Not now” or “Not ever”. Unless we already have a business relationship, we will not be selling any more than an appointment to speak to an adviser.
If someone launches into a hard sell for a specific investment, you can safely assume that they are a scammer, (or an idiot!). If they are flogging shares, car parking leases, palm oil plantations, carbon credits, wine or similar, just put the phone down; if you want advice talk to a proper adviser, not a voice on the phone!
Simple practical Steps
- Register on the Telephone Preference Service
- Give out as little written information as possible; do they really need it?
- Read all forms and opt out of marketing. If there is no opt out, do not give them the form back; it is a legal requirement in the UK
- Use an answerphone to screen all inbound calls; automated dialling systems and recorded messages will usually ring off. If something is important, they will leave a message.
- If you can, set your phones to reject calls with “withheld” numbers, (but the NHS routinely use these to contact patients, so be careful – the answerphone may be a better solution).
- Never give personal information to anyone on the phone; it can be used against you. Work on a “Need to Know” basis.
- If you do get plagued with callers, take details of the caller and complain to the Information Commissioner