How to fight off the cold callers

An angry and irritated young man screams into the telephone receiver over a white background.

Nearly a million pounds worth of fines have been issued against cold-calling companies in the last two months - but the problem still continues.

In one recent case, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) caught Coventry firm Easyleads Limited making 16.7 million automated marketing calls about boiler repairs, and fined it £260,000.

In many cases, the people being targeted were ex-directory, and there were large numbers of calls late at night and early in the morning.

In another case, a company made 146 million calls about payment protection insurance in the space of just four months.

"We hear first-hand from people how utterly disruptive, annoying and sometimes distressing automated calls can be," says ICO enforcement group manager Andy Curry. "Firms cannot expect to get away with intruding into people's lives like this."

Your first step is to contact the Telephone Preference Service at or on 0345 070 0707, and ask to be added to its register. It can also block spam calls to mobiles through its TPS Protect service.

Unfortunately, though, many companies ignore the law completely - particularly those based overseas - and continue to call numbers on the list.

If you're a BT customer, you can use BT Call Protect to divert calls from known spam numbers to your voicemail, and can also create your own personal blacklist. Other phone providers have call screening services too.

And you can buy special devices to filter out spam, such as the trueCall Call Blocker.

See also: Scamwatch: ban on pension cold calls

See also: Nearly three in four adults 'have been targeted with scam messages'

When you do receive spam calls and texts, your best bet is to ignore them completely and hang up. Even texting 'STOP' to spam texts can encourage the spammers, as it shows that your number is 'live'.

You can report problem calls or texts to the ICO at or on 0303 123 1113, and also to your mobile provider, by texting them the number 7726 (which spells out 'spam').

And all this applies, even if you have had legitimate dealings with the company in the past.

"Just because an organisation might have a person's mobile phone number in its records, that doesn't mean it can call or send them marketing messages without their consent," says Curry. "This also applies to any associated companies."

Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.

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