Stop getting nuisance calls and texts
We hear many complaints and concerns from patients about the number of unsolicited calls and texts people receive - often trying to sell a service or sometimes to try and gain information or money dishonestly. There has been a regrettable rise in the number of spurious phone calls about Coronavirus and claiming to be from the NHS. The NHS will NEVER ask you for money or your bank details in connection with coronavirus. Please report any call that tries to do so to the Police.
The following is advice from The Citizens' Advice Bureau about reducing nuisnace calls and keeping safe on the phone. Information was correct as of March 2021.
Stop getting nuisance calls
There are some actions you can take to stop getting nuisance calls that you don’t want.
You shouldn’t get nuisance calls if you didn’t give the caller your number - for example:
- cold calls trying to sell you something you don’t want or need, like double glazing
- recorded or automated messages telling you you’re due compensation, perhaps for a mis-sold insurance policy such as PPI
If you’re getting calls about PPI or accidents
Companies calling you about PPI claims, personal injury claims or other claims can't call you unless you’ve told them they can.
If they call without your permission, you can report them to the Information Commissioner's Office.
It’s helpful if you know the number they called from and the date and time they called. If you don’t have all this information, you can give other details of the call - for example, the name of the company that called you.
The Information Commissioner will investigate and can fine the company who called.
Register with the Telephone Preference Service
The best way to reduce nuisance calls is to register for free with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
They’ll add you to their list of numbers that don’t want to receive sales and marketing calls. It’s against the law for sales people from the UK or overseas to call numbers registered with TPS.
Registering won’t stop automated marketing calls, also known as ‘computer generated calls’. This is because the law only applies to people not computers. You should talk to your telephone provider about how to stop these calls.
Registering with TPS also won’t stop calls from scammers. Find out how to report a scam.
To register with TPS you’ll need your:
- phone number
- email address
The quickest way to register is to fill in the TPS online registration form on the TPS website.
If you can’t use the online form, you can register with TPS by phone instead:
TPS 24 hour automated registration
Telephone: 0345 070 0707
Your call is likely to be free of charge if you have a phone deal that includes free calls to landlines - find out more about calling 0345 numbers.
You can also register from your mobile phone by texting ‘TPS’ and your email address to 85095.
If you still get nuisance calls 28 days after registering with TPS, it might be because you gave the caller your number. Tell the individual caller you don’t want to be contacted again, and they should stop calling you.
You might also still get calls from companies that don't follow the regulations. You can complain about companies that ignore the law on the TPS website.
If anyone says they’re from TPS and asks you for money to register, it’s a scam - find out how to report a scam.
If you want to prevent third parties contacting you
To try to prevent the problem happening again you should always check any forms that you fill in for tick boxes that say something like “I give permission for third parties to contact me by phone” or “I give you permission to contact me by phone”. Don’t tick the boxes if you don’t want to be contacted.
Block nuisance calls
There are products to block some calls (like international calls or withheld numbers) but be careful they don't also block calls you want. Ask your phone provider if they have a service to block some numbers, or you can install a call blocking device on your phone yourself. Some modern phones come with call blockers included that can be set to - for example - block international calls or calls that withhold the caller's number (but bear in mind that some calls you may want, such as from the Surgery, withhold the number). Software on some mobile phones will also alert you to likely suspicious or potentially fraudulent callers.
Ofcom has information about the different services your phone provider may have to tackle nuisance calls.
Which? has advice on blocking calls, including reviews of call blocking devices.
If you think it’s a scam call
Scams usually involve people being tricked into giving money. If you think a caller is trying to run a scam, you should report it. Find out how to report a scam.
Stop getting nuisance texts
If you’ve given your number to a company in the past they may send you texts. You can tell them to stop sending you texts by replying ‘STOP’ to the text message. Only reply with ‘STOP’ if the sender tells you who they are in the text or they’re identified in the sent-from number.
If you don’t recognise the sender of a nuisance text or it’s from an unknown number, don’t reply. This will let the sender know you’re number is active and they may send you more texts or call you.
Report a nuisance call or text
Registering with the Telephone Preference Service will stop you getting nuisance calls, but if someone’s still bothering you 28 days after registering, then report them to the Telephone Preference Service.
Registering with the Telephone Preference Service won’t stop you getting nuisance texts. Forward the text to 7726 - this spells ‘SPAM’ on your phone keypad. This will report the sender to your mobile network company. You won’t be charged for forwarding a text to 7726.
Reporting nuisance calls or texts also helps regulators track down who’s making them. You’re under no obligation to do this, but it's quick and easy, and it’ll help more people in the long run.
You'll need to have your contact details and the company name or registration number to hand.
You can also report nuisance calls or texts to the Information Commissioner's Office. It’s helpful if you know the number that called you and the date and time of the call. If you don’t have all this information, you can give other details of the call - for example, the name of the company that called you.
The Information Commissioner’s Office will investigate and can take action against whoever has been contacting you.
If you’ve had a nuisance text that’s advertising something, you can also report it to the Advertising Standards Authority.
Stop calls and texts from a charity
If you want to stop calls and texts from a charity, you should register with the Telephone Preference Service.
Charities shouldn’t make fundraising calls to you if you’ve registered with this service. This includes charities registered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
You can also contact the Fundraising Preference Service if you want to stop getting calls and texts from a charity registered in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. They'll tell them to remove your contact details within 28 days. The best way to do this is to register on their website. You can register over the phone if you prefer.
Fundraising Preference Service
Telephone: 0300 3033 517
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm
Saturday, 9am to midday
Calls to this number can cost up to 10p a minute from a landline, or between 3p and 40p a minute from a mobile (your phone supplier can tell you how much you'll pay).
You'll need to have your contact details and the charity name or registration number to hand.
Complaining about calls or texts from a charity
You can report nuisance calls or texts to the Information Commissioner’s Office. They can fine companies that break the law.
If you’re getting calls where no one's there (called silent or abandoned calls), report them to Ofcom.
Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone. You can also use an online form.