How to beat the cold callers

Cold calls are the bane of many a householder's life, with unwanted sales, recorded messages and silent calls seemingly increasing by the day. But there are ways you can put a stop to the endless stream of nuisance phone calls - here's how.

Stop cold calls

Pic: Getty

Call screening
Though it won't put a stop to the cold calls, call screening will at least allow you to ignore the known troublemakers. If you have a phone with caller display and your service is with BT, you can get free caller ID via their Privacy at Home service, as long as you make a small number of calls yourself each month. If you only answer calls from numbers that you recognise you'll relieve some of the stress of answering sales calls and recorded messages, and if it's a number you don't recognise, they'll leave a message if it's important.

Opt out
It is against the law for companies to make marketing calls if you have specifically asked them not to. But it's absolutely essential that you opt out of marketing calls by the company itself and third parties by checking or unchecking any boxes at the point of signing up to a firm's website. Just be sure to read carefully - whether you tick or untick varies.

If you're already getting unwanted sales calls from a company, you are well within your rights to ask to be removed from their list. If a verbal request doesn't work, put it in writing. And going ex-directory will help to eradicate local sales calls.

Don't be fooled
Cold callers can be tricky to get rid of, particularly if they're on a high-pressure selling mission. Don't be fooled by offers that have to be taken there and then, and never reveal your personal details, especially financial details. Be very careful of any calls that require you to press buttons as these often mean you're redirected to a premium rate number.

Barring and blocking
There are a number of ways of barring unwanted calls. The Telephone Preference Service ensures that UK-based firms cannot make unsolicited sales and marketing calls, and you can register for free. However, scams, market research and international nuisance calls can still get through.

For a small fee, most phone operators can block calls from international numbers so if you're not in regular contact with someone abroad, this can eliminate some of the most persistent cold callers. Withheld numbers can also be blocked this way, though you may miss personal calls as a result. BT even supply a cordless phone (the BT 6500) that blocks international calls, withheld numbers, those without a caller ID, as well as 10 specified numbers.

If cold calls are still driving you to distraction, consider paying for a device like the CPR Call Blocker or TrueCall Call Blocker, both of which plug directly into your home phone, allowing you to screen calls and block the same number in future.

Where cold callers persist with unsolicited calls despite your best attempts to dissuade them, it's essential to report them. Those that breach TPS rules should be reported directly to the TPS, who will pass on complaints about repeat offenders to the Information Commissioner's Office, while scams can be reported to Action Fraud. If you have the offending phone number or company name, contact Ofcom and let them know. Even a withheld number can be traced by your phone service provider if you make a note of the time of the call.

Lastly, consumer watchdog Which? has an ongoing campaign to put an end to nuisance calls and texts, so visit their website to join the fight.

Have you managed to put an end to unwanted cold calls? What advice would you give others? Leave your comments below...