Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

How to give cold-callers the cold shoulder once and for all

Annoying cold calls and texts have become so relentless that many of us have become wary of answering landlines.

Indeed, recently there has been a surge in calls from companies offering help with compensation claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).

It follows speculation about a cut-off for claims next year and comes as banks are tipped to double the £13bn they have already set aside for payouts.

Citizens Advice advisers say that rogue callers are already looking for the next big thing after the PPI gravy train comes to an end, touting, for example, schemes to claim mis-sold mortgages.

If you say "yes" to a cold-caller you could be putting yourself at risk of losing money or becoming a victim of crime, so here's how to stop the calls and how to deal with those that get through.

• Who is making these calls?

The biggest offenders are claims management companies that handle compensation claims for PPI mis-sold by banks and building societies or companies that sell "leads" to claims companies if you express an interest. However, neither will boost your chances of making a successful claim, while both will take a large chunk out of any payout.

• Other nuisance callers or texters?

Claims companies that handle personal injury claims have been cold-calling long before the PPI scandal. In some cases, they encourage people to make fraudulent claims for injuries that they did not suffer.

• Can they be blocked?

Yes – in theory. It is against the law for companies to cold-call you if you opt out by signing up to the Telephone Preference Service at www. tpsonline.org.uk or on 084 5070 0707. Your number should go on a list within 28 days. Unfortunately, Citizens Advice says that there are cases of many people still being hassled after they've opted out because dodgy companies ignore the ban.

Going ex-directory can also help to reduce the volume of calls. You can call BT to arrange this.

• What if a cold-caller gets through?

If you do find a nuisance caller on the line, just say you're not interested and hang up. If you've registered to opt out, note the name of the company, time of call etc and complain to the Telephone Preference Service. It will notify the Information Commissioner's Office, which has powers to act against repeat offenders.

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