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Cold calls and how to stop them

May - 3 - 2014

Cold calling is a problem that most of us encounter from time to time. For some it can be a really big issue and despite calls for government action it seems the callers just won't give up according to this Guardian article.

For most of us cold calls are simply inconvenient but for the elderly or housebound they may be quite scary, and if you work from home they can be an interruption to your job. So what can you do to try to get the problem under control?

Opting out

There are schemes like the Telephone Preference Service which allow you to opt out of receiving cold calls. However, these only work - and not always then - for UK-based call centres. But even if you're registered with TPS some companies choose to ignore the rules and take the chance of a fine.

A bigger problem is that many of today's cold callers are based overseas and therefore not subject to British law in the first place. At the moment there doesn't seem to be any way that agencies like the TPS can prevent these calls.

Some people like to string the callers along and waste their time, but this isn't for everyone, and of course it eats into your own time too.

Using technology

So what can you do? Your existing technology can help to an extent. You can use caller display to screen out international and 'unavailable' number and let them go to your answerphone or call minder service. You can also, if you want, ignore other numbers you don't recognise, but you risk missing out on useful or important calls.

You could invest in a nuisance phone call blocker; these little boxes sit next to the telephone and allow you to press a button to block any numbers you don't want to receive calls from. There are several problems with this, however. You can't block withheld numbers as they might be important. Also you need to be near the phone to activate the block - not always convenient if you have a cordless phone or more than one extension in the house.

There is another alternative on offer from www.grouputilities.com which allows you to block unwanted calls from your phone rather than from the box itself. Unlike other nuisance phone call blocker units this works on a community basis so that you’re not only blocking numbers for yourself but for other users too.

The unit will challenge unknown callers giving you the chance to accept or reject the call and it includes an answering machine and recording device. Because the blocking is selective it won't block international calls from people you actually want to hear from.

Cold calls will remain a big problem until there's some concerted action by governments and the telecoms industry to put an end to them. In the meantime you can take your own steps by registering with the TPS and making use of the available technology to ignore or block cold callers.

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