How to beat cold callers

Reject all unexpected offers – they could be scams

Boy on tin can phone listening to curious good news

The Government has announced it will ban cold calls selling investments or pensions. Many of these unsolicited calls are from crooks. Even those cold callers who aren’t crooks can put pressure on people to agree to unsuitable offers. But the change won’t happen immediately, and even when it does, it will still be impossible to stop calls made from abroad or from those determined to break the law. So you have to protect yourself.

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1. If anyone you don’t know phones, texts or emails you offering a financial deal of any sort, just put the phone down, delete the text (after forwarding it to your network operator, see below) or bin the email. No one ever lost money by turning down an unsolicited financial offer. But many have lost a great deal by accepting one! Pass this advice on to anyone you know who you fear may be liable to engage with these people.

2. If you get a cold call or spam text, report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office: https://ico.org.uk/concerns/marketing/spamtexts-and-nuisancecalls They will not investigate every case. But reporting helps them to build up information for use in future. Spam texts can be forwarded to your network operator on 7726, which spells out SPAM on your keypad! You may need to put 8 (for Vodafone) or 3 (Three) in front. If you suspect an attempted fraud, tell actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040. They may or may not take any action.

3 You can stop a lot of cold calls – certainly the legitimate ones – by registering your landlineor mobile with the Telephone Preference Service at tpsonline.org.uk. It’s free and simple to do. Any firm that makes a cold call after you are on the register is breaking the law. You will need an active email address. If you don’t have one, register by calling 0345 070 0707 (charged at standard geographic rates). Then if cold calls still happen, you will know they are illegitimate. Always report them.

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4 A call or text may ask you to call back on a number that will cost you a lot. Do not respond: report it to the Phone-paid Services Authority at http://psauthority.org.uk – this also has a useful number checker for unidentified numbers on your phone bill. If you get an unexpected call from a firm you have dealt with in the past, such as a bank or insurer, hang up, leave it a few minutes, and then call them back on a number you have found on your own paperwork from that company. Or just ask the firm calling to write – without giving your address!