Creepy Callers, Ancient and Modern.

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While the heavy breathing brigade of nuisance callers have largely upgraded and gone online to provide unwanted trolling services to innocent twitter users across the globe, these sad individuals have largely been replaced by a new breed of nuisance caller; the professional. Professional is perhaps using the word broadly, when it comes to the semi-literate, virtually-unemployable-in-any-other-role type of creature that haunts the outbound call centres of the UK’s deprived regions. With many households across the UK falling victim each month (or each evening) to these underpaid, overworked desperadoes, many people would prefer to return to the good old days where the ringing of the phone in the evening simply heralded a pleasant chat with a good friend or relative. Blocking unwanted calls is not always easy – but it can be done. Here are a few tips to help you reclaim those quiet evenings.

The Good, Old Fashioned and Slightly Creepy Caller

When it comes to the traditional heavy breathing type call – which seem to be getting rarer these days – they do still happen. Cases of stalking and harassment are still common and, flippancy aside, this type of call is genuinely distressing. The best advice is to not speak when answering the phone to any call; trolls of the online and offline variety love to get a rise out of you – it’s their raison d’etre. If the caller is genuine, they’ll speak first; if it’s a nuisance caller simply leave the line open and alone for a short while and then quietly replace the receiver. Not only will the nuisance caller get bored surprisingly quickly, they often find this complete silence disturbing. In most cases it also makes sense to report the issue to the police and your phone company, both of whom will be able to take to steps to trace the individual in question.

The Modern, but Still Creepy, Nuisance Caller

Unsolicited sales calls come from a variety of sources. In theory, these calls should not be made without your permission. Permission can be given by ticking (or not ticking) the relevant box on a form (either online or offline). With many online forms for all manner of products and comparison services more widely available today it’s very easy to overlook the opt in/out box. This can mean that firms can legitimately call you and it’s not impossible (depending on the wording of their small print) for them to pass on (sell) your information to other companies who they are sure you’d just love to receive a string of calls from! If this is the case simply ask the delightful and helpful sales person the name of the company they are calling from (make a note) and advise them you do not wish to receive their calls. Legally they are required to comply with the request; if they continue to call put the request in writing (if they can’t remember their company address you should be able to find it online). Although it may take some time, this approach will help to reduce (though may not eliminate) unwanted sales calls. Registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is also advisable; this a free service and once you are on the list you should not receive calls from companies (unless you’ve already agreed to do so). In the case of any calls that do get through after registration, simply follow the process above and report any repeated issues to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Closing the Loopholes on Unwanted Callers

Unfortunately there are some unwanted calls that TPS and ICO have limited power to stop. Overseas calls cannot be stopped by registration with the TPS and withheld numbers will not easily be stopped either. In both cases your phone provider may be able to help; international call blocks can be placed by your provider (though they may charge) and tracing withheld numbers is often possible for your phone company. Silent calls today are often the result of an automated calling system used by large sales companies; these are usually the result of the firm not having enough staff to deal with the calls generated by their automated system. These calls can be annoying and also distressing for those in more vulnerable groups in society. (Automated numbers should not, however, be withheld). In addition to help from your phone provider a call blocking device can help. Call blockers fit to your phone line and phone and can be used to block numbers that you do not wish to receive calls from. Pro Call Blocker is a good example of this type of device; unwanted numbers can be blacklisted and options include withheld number blocking and international number blocking

Nuisance calls can be a distressing (and very frustrating issue) and seem to be on the rise again in the UK. Freelance writer Calvin Ford looks at how to stop them and the advantages of call blockers in helping to eliminate every type of nuisance caller.  

Sarah Pinkerton

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