Communication skills

Nuisance calls

How to stop getting nusiance calls

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Find out what 'silent calls' are, why you might get them and how to complain about them. Also, how to limit the amount of nuisance calls and texts you might receive.


James Daley: There's nothing more annoying than (interrupted by ringing phone) excuse me, hello? Hello? Another silent call. So why do we get them? Well, they're usually generated by companies that use automatic call centres that generate more calls than their call handlers can handle. There are strict rules laid down by the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, for companies that use automated telephone systems, so if you get a high number of silent calls make a complaint directly to Ofcom. It's also important to know that Ofcom won't respond to your individual complaint directly, but they may take it up with the company behind the scenes.

But of course it can be even more annoying when there is someone on the other end of the phone (interrupted by ringing phone again) no I don't want your double glazing! A word of warning there, never give out your personal details and if they really do need to speak to you, ask them if you can call them back on a publicly available number.

So how do you stop these nuisance calls? You can register your details with the Telephone Preference Service. It's a free and easy to use service and you can enter your details online. Unfortunately that won't stop all unwanted calls, such as ones from non- UK based companies, or companies to whom you've given your details, or agreed to let them call you. A good tip is to go ex-directory, to make sure that your number's not in the phone book.

And if you're shopping online, make sure you don't tick the box that gives consent to third party marketing.

But what can you do if you're still getting nuisance calls? (interrupted by ringing phone again) Hello? I thought I told you to leave me alone! Well, you can report any breaches of the rules to the Telephone Preference Service and they'll pass on details of companies to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), who can take action against repeat offenders. You can also contact the ICO directly yourself. It's important though, to make a note of the date of the call, the time, the company and also keep some details of the conversation that you had.

I know what you're thinking, what about those nuisance text messages that you get on your mobile (mobile phone in James Daley's hand starts to beep)? Oh, as if by magic. (Reading from the phone) 'we've been trying to contact you about your recent accident. You could be owed damages of up to £5,000'. Accident? What accident?

If you receive a text message from a company that you know , you can usually respond to the message with the word 'stop' and that should prevent any further texts being sent to your phone. If you receive a text from a company you don't know, like the one I just received, it's really important not to reply to it, because it could be a way of checking that your number's active and if you respond, it could open you up to many more spam texts. The best thing to do is to delete the message. You can always report the text to your mobile operator though. If you're on O2 or Everything Everywhere, forward the text to 7726, which helpfully spells the word 'spam' on your keypad, or if you're on Three, just add a 3 in front of 7726, or on Vodaphone, add an 8 before 7726.

(Phone rings) wait a second, 'Hello? Oh, hi mum'.

Quick tips for tutors

A short video that looks at silent calls, cold calls and nuisance texts and explains what you can do to limit these. May be used in class to stimulate discussion around the featured topic. Alternatively could be used to provide purpose and context to an exercise in writing a letter or around communication skills.