Top tips to avoid nuisance calls for older people

Nuisance calls can make your elderly parent’s life a misery

Nuisance calls and texts can cause considerable distress and anxiety. If your parent is receiving nuisance calls, there is something you can do about it.

Preventing future nuisance calls as a result of buying via catalogue or online 

Make sure you check the opt in/opt out boxes on any direct mail order or online order. Often these are ticked for you and you have to actually un-tick them to stop receiving future calls and email spam. They can be buried in the small print at the bottom, making it harder for people to find and read. 

If you opt in, you are agreeing future contact, not just from that company, but often from other third parties. This can be by phone, email or post. If you opt out, they cannot contact you under the data protection laws.

Register with the Telephone Preference Service for free

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) allows consumers to opt out of receiving any unsolicited telesales calls.You can register your parent’s phone number online, or by phoning 0845 070 0707. It’s free to register and takes up to 28 days to come into effect.

Telemarketers are not allowed to call a number registered to the TPS. Unfortunately, registering with the TPS won’t stop all unwanted calls. Firms may still call you if you’ve previously given them permission to contact you by phone. To stop these calls, you must contact the firm in question (preferably in writing) and ask them not to call you for marketing purposes.

Be aware that firms will also still be allowed to call you to conduct market research purposes if the call does not include any marketing or collect data for use in future marketing calls and some companies still break the law!

TPS is the only register that organisations are legally obliged to check against before making live telesales calls.

How to block different types of calls

There are various products and services that can help block nuisance calls, although you may need to pay to use them.These may block international calls, or calls from withheld numbers or a you can select a list of numbers to block. You need to ensure which you are able block the calls you want to block and nothing else.

  • Talk to your phone provider about what they can do to help.
  • You can attach a call blocker to your phone, or you can buy phones incorporating call blockers.  Some ask the caller to give their name before the call is put through to you. Which has a list of available call blockers. Read the instructions carefully, so you don’t block calls you do want to receive. BT have an excellent phone to block calls, which you can buy here.
  • Consider going ex-directory. Some businesses use directory services to build sales lists, so going ex-directory can prevent businesses from getting your phone number through the phone book.
  • Screen your calls by using a phone with “Caller ID” which shows the number calling, or using an answer machine or voicemail to screen the call before you answer. .

What to do when you receive nuisance calls and messages

  • Ask for the caller’s details. You can just put the phone down , or you can ask the caller for details of their organisation, its address and telephone number. You can then use this information to notify the organisation that you no longer wish to receive calls. If you feel under pressure on the phone, you may want to end the call. It is perfectly acceptable to just put the phone down.
  • Don’t give out your personal details. Never give your personal details to, including when you answer the phone, especially if you are asked to carry out an action which might have financial consequences.
  • Avoid answering the phone by saying your telephone number and name as a greeting (this is something many older people do, but can be used by the caller to over-familiarise themselves)and do not include these details on your answerphone or voicemail. Your voicemail message should ideally say that you are currently unable to get to the phone and if the caller leaves their name and number, you will ring them back. Never leave a message saying you are not at home.
  • Answer just with ‘hello’ and  make the caller give you their details first. This will help you to check that they’re calling from a credible place. Ask for as many details as you wish.
  • Never give out financial details. If someone rings you asking for personal financial information, never give it. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government department’s website to check whether the call was genuine. Wait at least five minutes before making the call – this ensures the line has cleared and you’re not still speaking to the fraudster or an accomplice

Dealing with automated marketing calls

These calls may ask you to press a number to speak to a live agent. It is best not to answer and just to put the phone down. Never call the number back, as it may cost you a lot of money

Dealing with spam texts

If someone sends you a text asking you to reply ‘STOP’ , ignore it, as by replying, you confirm that your number is active and this can result in you receiving more messages, and calls. Instead, report the spam text to your network operator by forwarding the text to 7726.  (they are the numbers on your telephone keypad that spell out the word ‘SPAM’!)

You will not be charged for forwarding spam texts to 7726.

You can also complain to the ICO by phone 0303 123 1113 or online

How to make a complaint

If you complain, it helps regulators such as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom take action against illegal callers. When you receive a nuisance call, make a brief note of the call, including the date, time, name of the firm (if possible) and also the number you were called from (even if it doesn’t look like a valid phone number). Then complain to the relevant organisation or regulator.  You can still complain even if you don’t have all the information available.

 

Responses

  1. phil.short@ntlworld.com says:

    May 23rd, 2016 at 11:47 am (#)

    Thank you for this advice, but can I just point out that I believe my elderly parents have just been scammed into buying a call blocking device by a cold caller – oh the irony – and one that requires caller id which my parents don’t have on their phone. As yet I am unsure if they have subscribed to a service or just purchased [yet another] useless piece of electronic tat.

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