Category Archives: Telephone Preference Service

Cold call plague: is it even legal?

Our community is increasingly complaining about getting repeated unsolicited phone calls, occurring at any time of day.

The first step in this battle against nuisance calls is to know your rights, so here’s our guide on cold calling to help you sort fact from fiction.

What’s cold calling?

is cold calling illegal

Cold calling is the activity of calling someone to make a business solicitation, without being asked by the receiver to do so.  This technique has considerably increased with the development of telecommunication technologies, making everyone having access to a telephone a potential target. A 2017 study estimates that 9 out of 10 landlines in the U.K. are bombarded with cold calls, even though half of them have subscribed to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Nuisance calls also affect 8 out of 10 mobile phones. British consumers approximately received 3.9 billion nuisance phone calls and texts the past year.

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that deals with consumers’ complaints, a great number of nuisance calls and texts is about solar panels, Payment Protection Insurance (PPI)/accident claims, boilers, debt, banking operations and lifestyle surveys.

Though cold calling is originally the tool of telemarketing companies wishing to attract new customers, this method is also used by scammers. For this reason, remember than an annoying unsolicited call can also be a dangerous one!

Is cold calling legal?

Cold calling is not prohibited per se. Although, the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 has established a number of restrictions to protect the public.

Telemarketing companies are allowed to call prospects any landlines and mobile phones that are not registered to TPS. In some countries, the timing of such calls is regulated to limit the potential disturbance in individuals’ personal life. For instance, it is forbidden for telemarketers in the USA to call before 8 am and after 9 pm. There is no such rule established in the UK to protect their consumers, so companies can call you any time of day. The company must always identify itself and provide a legitimate number to caller ID systems, so the receiver can call back if desired. If asked, the company must be able to give a real contact address or a freephone number.

There are more restrictions regulating robocalls (calls made by an automated dialing system). Automated calls are allowed only if you gave explicit consent to a particular company to be contacted this way. Each call must include your name, contact address of freephone number.  Additionally, the company number must be displayed to the receiver.

When is cold calling illegal?

Unsolicited automated calls

automatic dialer

An automated calling system is a software or program configured to automatically dial many numbers from a database and leave a pre-recorded message once a call has been answered. Using automated dialing system for direct marketing is prohibited by The 2003 Regulations, unless the company has been specially authorised by the receiver of the call and follows the rules previously detailed.

Cold calls to a TPS registered number

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a register of domestic phone numbers whose users have expressed their wish to not receive unsolicited sales and marketing calls. Companies cannot legally cold call a phone number that is TPS enlisted.

Cold calls to an individual who asked to not be contacted

A legal cold call becomes illegal if a company keeps calling you after you clearly asked them to stop. Such violation of the law can be reported to the Information Commissioner’s office who has the power to impose important fines.

How do I know if a cold call is a scam?

Many cold calls are not made by genuine companies! To better identify potential scam calls, we have compiled the most common scam calls and messages in a comprehensive guide available on our main page. For more details, read it here.

Are the authorities taking actions?

police against spam calls

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, stated that “nuisance calls are a blight on society and we are determined to stamp them out”. Steve Wood, Deputy Commissioner at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) insists on the importance of working on an evolution of the law to better protect the public against businesses that deliberately disrupt people with abusive cold calls.

A certain number of measures have already been set these past few years to better regulate cold calling and take actions against wrongdoers, such as increased fines.

Concerned by the recent increase of nuisance calls, the government has elaborated new measures to punish more effectively abusive companies. Right now, only the companies themselves are liable for fined up to £500,000. Yet several business directors attempted to avoid important penalties by declaring bankruptcy, and then opening the business later under another name. The new measures aim to prevent this by making company bosses personally responsible in case their firm practices illegal cold calling.

Ofcom and ICO are now working more closely to fight against nuisance calls. You can make a difference by systematically reporting your experiences with nuisance calls, either scam or abusive telemarketing calls in our website, warning other users like you.

How to protect yourself from cold calling?   

• Register for The Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

Registration to TPS is free of charge and can help you screen a certain number of nuisance sales and marketing calls. Telemarketing companies are not allowed to call TPS registered numbers. If they do so, they are breaking the law and can be fined.

Note that TPS does not protect its users against scam calls and text messages.

For more details, read our full article “What is the TPS and does it actually work in the UK?”

• Register for The Fundraising Preference Service (FPS)

Registration for FPS is also free of charge and is designed to help you regulate the calls you are getting from selected charities

• Stay away from sales call lists

ignoring calls is a good option

As previously detailed, it is illegal for companies to call you for sales purposes if you previously informed them not to. When an option about direct marketing is mentioned on a website for example, make sure to opt out. Systematically ask cold callers to remove you from their call list and mention that you will send a written request if they persist. Keeping cold calling you after you took these actions is illegal, so this should discourage a fair amount of companies to call again.

• Ignore unknown numbers

Checking an unknown number before picking up is advised to avoid falling for abusive sales calls or scams. Unknownphone.com offers a large and growing database of phone numbers in the U.K., United States and Australia to help you figure out the identity of an unknown caller. Genuine callers will generally leave a message, marketing call centers and scammers will not.

• Use Call Blocker, our official app

Stay protected from cold calls by downloading CallBlocker, Unknownphone.com’s official call blocking app! Let our extended database help you block annoying and dangerous numbers in your iPhone or Android.

• Report nuisance calls

Join the fight against nuisance calls by reporting them! If your number is TPS registered and a sales company yet contacted you, you can directly report it to them.  

Silent and abandoned calls should be reported to Ofcom.

If you experience automated calls, contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.

If you are a victim of abusive or threatening phone calls, call your phone company immediately as well as your local police station if you feel a real danger.  

Please, report and share your experience towards cold calls with Unknownphone.com! Our team takes your reports very seriously and is immensely grateful for your contribution to the phone database, allowing us to help a greater number of people every day!

What is the TPS and does it actually work in the UK?

Tired of being bombarded with nuisance calls? The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is the official opt-out register promoted as an effective tool to reduce unsolicited calls. Although, our community often complains about receiving nuisance calls despite having registered their number with the TPS.

Is the TPS really useful? Does it work? We have created this practical guide with all you need to know about it.

tps works or not?

What is the TPS?

First thing to know, the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a FREE service. The direct marketing industry runs and funds the service.

The TPS is the official UK register of domestic phone numbers whose users record their preference not to receive sales or marketing cold calls. Before making a cold call, organisations *MUST* check if the phone number of the receiver is TPS registered.

According to the Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, it is *ILLEGAL* for such organisations to call TPS registered numbers for sales or marketing reasons, unless they have obtained your consent first. Organisations that must abide by this rule include: companies, voluntary organisations, charities and political parties.

The TPS is enforced by law and regulated by Ofcom, which is in charge of maintaining the opt-out register. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the organism responsible of taking enforcement actions towards companies that might break the law by calling people whose numbers are TPS registered, without their prior consent.

How useful is TPS against nuisance calls?

The TPS claims itself very effective to protect its users against nuisance calls. They assure that reputable companies are more than likely to follow the law and comply with the rule, which should reduce an important part of the nuisance.

Although, the TPS faces many critics as it mostly fails to block a great number of unwelcomed calls and scams. In fact, many companies appear to ignore the rules and often skip the mandatory check on the TPS register before making cold calls.

Additionally, the TPS does not cover many types of nuisance calls that abundantly plague UK users, such as any kind of nuisance messages, automated calls (robocalls), market research calls, silent calls, overseas calls and fraudulent calls. As a result, consumers yet receive an important number of unwanted calls, despite the legal restrictions.

The TPS does not protect you against unsolicited text messages either.

For more details about cold calling and the most commons scams in the UK, please read our guide about it.

But… does TPS actually work?

tps doesnt work as expected

For all reasons mentioned above, the TPS undoubtedly fails to screen users from all types of nuisance calls. However, it yet appears to reduce an important number of live sales cold calls. Research have found that TPS successfully cut out a third of unwanted calls, mainly blocking UK based organisations.

Being the only such register enforced by the UK law, the TPS also provides its users the ways to report abusive numbers to the authorities. Unfortunately, the procedure is complex and users’ complaints rarely lead to repressive legal actions. Tracking down companies acting illegally appears to be a difficult process, as many of them operate overseas. The authorities have recently claimed that they are working on adopting new measures to improve the repression of the fraudsters, in order to fight more effectively against nuisance calls.

To sum up, the TPS is an ambitious service that did not quite fulfil the public’s expectations. The TPS users still get plenty of nuisance calls and apart of unplugging your landline and throwing your mobile away, there is not much to do to avoid them completely. However, the TPS service is free of charge and has proved a relative effectiveness especially regarding live cold calls, which can be enough reasons for you to register for it.

How do I register for the TPS?

If you wish to register with the TPS, here are your options:

By phone

Call the registration line on 0345 070 0707. The price of the call es the same as per calling any other landline in the U.K., sometimes calls to these type of phone numbers are included in call packages.

To register your mobile phone, send a text message to 85095 with a message following this format “TPS your@email.com”. Sending a text to this phone number has no charge and its the option we recommend, once your petition has been processed you will receive a text message from this shortcode confirming you are subscribed to the TPS.

Online

The registration process takes a few minutes online on the TPS official website.

By post

You can alternatively register by writing a request to the following address:

Telephone Preference Service
DMA House, 70 Margaret Street,
London, W1W 8SS.

Beware of the TPS related scams!!!!

Our community has raised our attention on increasing scams involving the TPS. Fraudsters usually operate following the same pattern. According to our numerous reports, fake TPS agents claim that your TPS registration is expiring and will soon be terminated. They will then ask for your banking details in order to renew the service. Remember that the TPS is a FREE service! Once you are registered, you do not have to renew it and no one from the TPS will ever call you to ask money or personal information.

If you ever receive this type of calls, end the communication immediately. Please report the fraud to the Unknownphone.com team by filling a report for the phone number who called you on our website so we can warn the rest of the community.

We also advise you to download Call Blocker, our call blocking app for mobile, which automatically blocks and identifies these type of calls!