back to article UK.gov pushes for SWIFT ACTION against nuisance calls, threatens £500k fines

The UK government is hoping to force through a change in law to lower the legal threshold on punishments handed out to companies that make nuisance calls and send annoying texts to Brits. A six-week consultation process was announced by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport this morning. Culture Secretary Sajid Javid …

  1. tentimes

    It's not calls from the UK that are the problem

    The vast majority of annoying calls I got where from India or similar.

    I bought one of those BT handsets that blocks calls and won't accept calls from unknown or overseas numbers. That was the only thing that helped.

    I suppose I still do get the odd one from the UK, so this is helpful, but there has to be a solution mandated for FREE that will allow callers to block overseas and unknown numbers. Currently it is charged for (not cheaply) by telcos. This solution should be available free for privacy.

    BT's privacy at home and the preference register are both totally useless and made no difference even to UK calls I received. Some chump who had the number before me (Mr Neally grrrrr) had given his number to everyone out there.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: It's not calls from the UK that are the problem

      Stop using landlines.

      There's no reason to, nowadays. Businesses should be on VoIP / SIP / etc. and the filtering there is trivial. Home users are guaranteed to have more mobiles than landlines near them. And most smartphones nowadays have Caller-ID by default (no extra charge), allow you to block unknown numbers, and allow you to blacklist individual numbers.

      The landline companies honestly don't care. That's why they charge extra for those services. They couldn't give a toss until you pay them to care, and then they make no guarantees whatsoever. And enforcing valid Caller ID even internationally, and penalising companies that do not pass valid Caller ID through properly (by removing their ability to dial your numbers) is the only sensible solution. And it's not happened and we've had Caller ID for, what, 20+ years?

      Nobody cares. So stop using their spammy products.

      1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

        Re: Stop using landlines.

        Firstly my wife's mobile get loads of these shit calls, fortunately mines currently get few, but for how long?

        Secondly living without a landline rather depends on where you live and other factors in your environment. Vodafone's signal round here is crap these days whereas it used to be quite good, a little way down the road the is a hole where no-ones mobile signal works. My office at home seemingly has magic glass that cuts off the signal on all the networks. I can damn near see an O2 mast, open the door - 5bars, shut the door 1 on a good day.

        As for relying on VoIP, not sure how that solves any of the problems since you still have a phone number the bastards can hook onto. But even with a pair of bonded ADSL lines the reliability is no where near good enough if you NEED to be in contact with the world. I have the landlines connected up as a backup for the VoIP phones.

        Besides with no landlines there would be no Internet connection. 3G or 4G doesn't cut it I'm afraid, have that as a backup with a proper external antenna attached to the router but latency times are much longer than the ADSL and while peak bandwidth might be OK, it rather depends on who else is working locally. No "cable" here since the stupid cable companies tried to get the builders to pay them to fit the wiring, when at the same time they were digging up half the country and laying string down the holes for free, so no other way of getting online.

        And I'm lucky, try living outside of towns/cities and people are in a much worse situation.

      2. wikkity

        Re: Stop using landlines

        I guess you are lucky enough to not need to ring 999 very often. Can't really nip outside for a better signal when giving first aid.

    2. William Donelson

      Re: It's not calls from the UK that are the problem

      Yes I block unidentified calls as well, but still get spam calls from Spoofed phone numbers that are not real numbers.

      I talked to a BT guy and he told me that even BT itself gets spam calls in it's own offices.

      My friends in the USA have had (for 20 years now) automated Call Screener. it answers the phone with a recorded voice and asks your business or name. It then announces this from the phone (adjustable volume) and you can pick up if you want.

      1. Spiny_Norman
        Thumb Up

        Re: It's not calls from the UK that are the problem

        I also have one of these - it's an answerphone that is permanently connected and gives me call screening. Anybody we want to talk to says who they are & we pick the phone up. The cold callers pretty much all hang up as soon as our message cuts in. Cost <£20 about 10 years ago & just works.

        1. MisterD

          Re: It's not calls from the UK that are the problem

          Wait until you get that annoying solar guy, when he gets an answering machine he hangs up and dials again 3 or 4 times in a row.

  2. Gary F

    More than half of nuisance calls originate from abroad so any change in the law will have no effect whatsoever on the majority of calls which will continue. Most UK originated calls hide their number or give you a false or unregistered company name in case you do complain about them.

    1. Peter Prof Fox

      This 'overseas' thing is false

      If who pays can be discovered, and of course it can, automatically, by the phone company system, [perhaps chained together] then you're ready for 'on-the spot' fines. The charging mechanism is already in place so all you need is the £10 per spam kick in the goolies clause.

      While I'm here: When I'm Prime Minister there will be a 1471-like system for nuisance calls to automatically register 'last call was a nuisance because of [categories] 1-yourPC has a virus 2-survey 3-Robo-call 4-private harassment. Any phone campaign will soon be racking up a large number of hits which, depending on the cause might be blocked, fined, rate limited, delayed etc.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "More than half of nuisance calls originate from abroad"

      Other than the outright criminal scams, there's usually a money trail back to in-country businesses.

      Make them liable for the actions of their marketers and you're down to the criminals - who won't stop anyway.

      90% of the spam I get is for illegal products. That doesn't mean that I won't go after the 10% of "legititmate" outfits who think that this stuff is ok because they can get away with it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trading Standards

    in Scotland are currently running a trial of a bit of kit that plugs into your wall and then into your phone, acting as a go between. It learns your call list and blocks unwanted calls, and it's all monitored by TS in one of their offices to identify where the rogue calls are coming from.

    If you're deemed to have a high value of nuisance calls, TS pays for the service and the unit for you and it doesn't cost you a penny.

    Very effective.

  4. Ian 62

    Its a waste of time even complaining

    I'm listed on the Telephone Preference service, have been for years, yet I still get calls.

    Usually I tell the caller immediately that I'm listed and they are breaking the law to call me, normally they hang up pretty quick. Some occasions I do get the details of who they are, when reporting this to Ofcom I'm told 'Theres nothing we can do'. So, whats the point again?

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Re: Its a waste of time even complaining

      The only British outfits I know of that respect the Telephone Preference List are the political parties. They know that nuisance calls in an election campaign would lose them votes.

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Its a waste of time even complaining

        Or alternatively you don't live in a marginal constituency - I'm reasonably certain that the TPS does not cover surveys or political campaigning.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Economics 101

    This is because our relationship with the phone companies has changed - we used to be "customers" but now we're "consumers" ...

    The way it works is like this - everyone wanted cheap phone calls and the phone company with the lowest rates started to get more customers so all the phone companies lowered their rates to starvation levels to compete. But the companies have to make money somehow if they are to stay in business - so now they sell access to your phone number to anyone who will pay.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Economics 101

      "But the companies have to make money somehow if they are to stay in business - so now they sell access to your phone number to anyone who will pay."

      If you think that selling spam-call lists to dodgy companies is a big earner, then you know nothing about the economics of cold calling (even though any intelligent person can estimate these for themselves), and I'd presume nothing about either the technology or economics of a telco.

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Re: Economics 101

        BT do or did sell telephone directories on CD. What is that if not a spam-call list?

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Economics 101

          Only people that don't request to be ex-directory are on that, and pretty much everyone is ex-directory these days. My local phone book used to be about 6cm thick and A4 sized, now it is less than 1cm thick and A5 sized.

  6. WonkoTheSane

    Screen all calls through an answering machine...

    But make the sound of a Fax machine signalling that it's "Out of Paper" as your outgoing message.

    Laws agains junk faxes are more strictly enforced than phone calls.

    1. phil dude
      Thumb Up

      Re: Screen all calls through an answering machine...

      yes, if you have landline, put a fax on it. Many thumbs up.

      So long as it is digital, of course....

      P.

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The problem is that we the recipient is powerless

    To stop this crap from coming.

    Now it is automated voice responce calls about some ficticious RTA that I had in the last two years.

    The most recent ones are coming from an 01234 945006 (Bedford number)

    Why can we get this load of [redacted] [redacted] up before the beak charged with inciting people to commit fraud by making false insurance claims?

    I'd like to [see Icon] to each and everyone involved with this business

  8. Sapient Fridge

    Taking text/Email/cold callers to court

    Ofcom won't do anything, but the ICO will sometimes take action if there are enough complaints.

    http://ico.org.uk/concerns

    https://complaints.tpsonline.org.uk/consumer/?/MConsumer/Default.aspx

    You can take private action, which has worked out well quite profitably for some people:

    http://sapientfridge.org/textspam/

    Much of the information there applies to cold callers as well. The key is to identify the calling company so you can take action against them.

    1. MisterD

      Re: Taking text/Email/cold callers to court

      ICO's web forms for reporting nuisance calls are unnecessarily cumbersome, placing an unwelcome burden on the abuse victim by requiring them to re-enter all their personal details for each instance of abuse. It is orders of magnitude easier to commit abuse than to report it. I can recall an occasion where the same telespammer repeatedly abused my phone 3 or 4 times before I had managed to fill in the form to report the first abuse instance.

      1. Al 18

        Re: Taking text/Email/cold callers to court

        Now it is even worse they don't take complaints but refer you to the TPS!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Taking text/Email/cold callers to court

      It's worth actually reading what this report is about. ICO have had penalties overturned by a tribunal which is making it difficult for them to proceed on other cases because they're concerned that that could happen again (it's not stated but I expect they're worried about having their budget bled by having costs awarded against them). They're wanting to have the criteria for level of nuisance reduced so they don't get tribunals finding against them in future.

  9. Pypes
    Pint

    Every Friday at work, about 4pm, all the phone lines ring within 5 seconds of each other.

    That's how we know it's time to go to the pub.

  10. The Electron
    Pirate

    The government could ban the practice...

    ...but it is too beholden to the whims of big-business to add such a law to the statute books.

    And only using mobiles is not the answer. I have a new mobile for work and the number is only known to staff, yet many of us have been receiving PPI calls from a Manchester company. They are either using auto-dialer tech to see whose phone they can hit, or EE are selling the numbers!

    The Bedford number has also tried calling me. I am a mere 12 miles from Bedford. I might become annoyed enough to track them down...

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: The government could ban the practice...

      If it helps, ISTR that 9 as the first digit was once an indication that the line was installed by NTL (now virgin) rather than BT.

  11. G R Goslin

    Problem Solved

    I used to get three or four calls a day, despite being on the TPS list. I recently bought a cheap call barring box from A...n, and the problem is done. It's set to reject "caller number withheld" and International calls. The odd one that slips by, I simply press the red button and it's gone, never to return. From three or four a day, it's gone to three calls over the last two months. Added to which, I've stopped using the landline for outgoing calls at 12p/min, and gone to mobile at 3p/min. It's never an ill wind.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem with blocking international and number-withheld calls

    Is if you have international relatives, and you're a next-of-kin contact for your kids/partner/etc.

    1. Number6

      Re: The problem with blocking international and number-withheld calls

      Part of this would be solved if BT would provide international CLI. It is provided by most countries, as is demonstrated when an incoming call is routed in over something other than a BT line (other telcos are not as stubborn as BT in this respect). The system is smart enough that it could display country of origin even if it didn't give a full number, which would improve things for a lot of people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The problem with blocking international and number-withheld calls

        I believe it's being rolled out nationally now - it was reported on here some months ago.

        The issue with this though is that most international calls arriving in the UK don't use the BT network. Another telco handles the call and passes it over an interconnect to BT, if it's a call for a BT provided line. There's no way for BT to know if the CLI is good or not. There's no telco equvalent of a mac address - all a telco knows is who passed the call to them.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: The problem with blocking international and number-withheld calls

          "There's no way for BT to know if the CLI is good or not"

          Yes there is. There are 2 numbers supplied at exchange level - the CLI, plus a "show/donot show" flag and the actual origin number for billing purposes (ANI under the old SS7 system)

          CLI may be missing, but calls won't be routed without the ANI.

          1. MisterD

            Re: The problem with blocking international and number-withheld calls

            BT already seem to know that some numbers are bad. Do a 1471, ask yourself why sometimes you get a legit sounding number with "please hang up" instead of "to return the call press 3".

    2. Richard Cranium

      Re: The problem with blocking international and number-withheld calls

      "Block international and number withheld" - no use with a widely scattered and travelling family and friends. Some temporary phone card services to allow travellers to make inexpensive calls home show up as number witheld. My solution is as soon as I hear an Indian accent the phone goes down. That gets rid of most of the scams but one does need a Bank that hasn't off-shored their call centre! It does pose a bit of a quandry for the Indian government, doubtless keen to get all that call centre employment but at the cost of the reputational damage of "indian accent = scammer".

      The UKs TPS is run for the benefit of the marketing sector and our legislators are also beholden to them. Can't find the reference but within the last year one was was quoted with words to the effect that "telesales perform a valuable service of bringing opportunities to the notice of a wider audience". I believe it was in relation to those who use "government grant incentives" to hook mug punters to sign up for an overpriced scheme. For example there is grant aid for fitting a replacement energy efficient gas boiler. Our best known national Gas company used this hook to quote me nearly 3 times the price charged by a local contractor.

      TPS intentionally makes it difficult to file a report and until very recently had NEVER imposed any penalties. I made an FOI enquiry a few years back, the response (paraphrased) was "Persistent offenders are sent a warning to stop".

      Legislation needs to be targeted at the telcos, if they were subject to a penalty for every complained-of call to their subscriber's line and a 1471 style reporting system was put in place I suspect they'd find a solution.

  13. xyz

    Gave up with the landline

    and just use my mobile for everything now inc. my broadband connection. I've only ever had one call that needed barring in 9 months and that was from someone I knew. Currently typing this on my laptop tethered to my phone which running a 4G connection....lovely and for £28 per month all in. Another couple of years and having a landline will be about as cool as offering to send someone a fax.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    El Reg should really have mentioned the free service TPS www.tpsonline.org.uk/

    I went from 1 call/day to 0 in a matter of days. Priceless.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Did you read the other comments here? Mant previous posts indicated that they were on the TPS register. Some scumbag companies ignore TPS because the ICO is not gonna stop them anytime short of a month of Sundays.

      Besides, many come at a time of day that it feels good to send a whole load of verbage at the poor sod on the other end.

      Mind you one even called back and gave me a mouthful too.

      I wish that some cesspit would open up and swallow the lot of them.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      People on the TPS list get on average twice as many nuisance calls as people not on it - report on Which a few years back. They are completely useless.

    3. Gerry 3

      The TPS is ineffective

      Ofcom reports that two thirds of unwanted calls still get through.

      http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/news/measuring-the-effectiveness-of-the-telephone-preference-service/

  15. Gerry 3

    The Regulators Are All Useless !

    The problem is that Ofcom, the TPS, the ICO and all the other so-called regulators in the UK are all totally and utterly useless.

    Nuisance calls can be eliminated if the will is there: the Do Not Call list in the USA works very well. When my Florida landline went live I received four 'courtesy calls' from home security companies in the first hour, no doubt because Verizon had sold my number to spammers' lists. But the Do Not Call list soon kicked in and all the nuisance calls stopped forever.

    If the DCMS were really intent on solving the problem, this is what they would have done years ago:-

    1. JAIL the CEO of any UK company that uses sales leads obtained from companies that call numbers on the TPS list. That would catch all the Indian call centres except the 'Microsoft Helpdesk' fraudsters.

    2. Prevent spoofing of CLIs and block transmission of calls with invalid CLI number ranges.

    3. Order UK all telcos to offer Anonymous Call Rejection free of charge, and to include the option of blocking 'Number Unavailable' calls as well as just 'Number Withheld'.

    4. Order all UK telcos to offer 'Choose to Refuse' free of charge, and to allow country codes (e.g. India) to be blocked, not just individual subscriber numbers.

    5. Order all UK telcos to offer a memorable free code (e.g. 1-7726, 1-SPAM) which can be dialled immediately after receipt of a nuisance call, automatically reporting it to the ICO and adding it to the victim's 'Choose to Refuse' list.

    1. Nuke
      Thumb Up

      @Gerry3 - Re: The Regulators Are All Useless !

      Wrote "allow country codes (e.g. India) to be blocked"

      "allow country codes (India by default)) to be blocked"

      There, fixed it for you.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: The Regulators Are All Useless !

      "Nuisance calls can be eliminated if the will is there: the Do Not Call list in the USA works very well. "

      The DNC list works well in the USA because of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which does 3 things that lawmakers in the UK have absolutely refused point blank to do.

      1: It makes the caller AND the company they advertise for jointly and legally liable for breaches.

      2: It sets statutory per-call damages, tripled for wilful breaches - if you're on the DNC lists, it's wilful

      3: Most important of all - it explicitly creates a right of private action in Small Claims court

      it's #3 which stopped the faxes and unwanted calls - companies may take the risk of the regulator not taking action, but the death of a thousand paper cuts is an extremely effective deterrent.

      UK lawmakers have repeatedly removed #2 and #3 from proposed legislation, frequently using the spurious objection that these actions would clog up the courts - if the problem is that bad, why isn't the regulator taking action?

      I don't see how a consultation will help unless the lawmakers allow effective weaponry to be used.

  16. Da Weezil

    Ive often wondered why BT exchanges don't (cant) "verify" valid UK STD numbers before connecting the call.

    BT lost me as a revenue generating customer when I called them after many overseas calls and asked how I could bar international calls due to the nuisance, as I don't get personal calls from outside of the UK. The Droid I spoke to claimed it would be illegal to do so, and had no words when I pointed to the illegality of the calls under Privacy in Comms regulations AND asked why spoofing CLI data wasn't held to be a breach of BT's T&C (and thus allowing for a block legally) he just couldn't answer those points. My view is BT like the termination revenue they get for this.

    I moved all my personal stuff to mobile, dropped all the premium services on my landline (which now only exists because we are blackmailed into supporting a voice service to have broadband) and unplugged the handset BUT IT SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS.

    We have weak and ineffectual regulation, both within telecoms and in business regulation where companies in the UK specifically use overseas centres to get around the privacy protections in place. AS ever it seems the rights of the individual take a very poor place to the scammers and schemers in big business, both here and abroad.

    Finally reporting spam calls to OFCOM is no use. Report them to the ICO via webform, if we bury the ICO in reports maybe someone will realise that this is a real issue, because right now it seems that no one in power understands how widespread the problem is - or how ineffectual the current regime is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "BT lost me as a revenue generating customer when I called them after many overseas calls and asked how I could bar international calls due to the nuisance, as I don't get personal calls from outside of the UK. The Droid I spoke to claimed it would be illegal to do so, and had no words when I pointed to the illegality of the calls under Privacy in Comms regulations AND asked why spoofing CLI data wasn't held to be a breach of BT's T&C (and thus allowing for a block legally) he just couldn't answer those points. My view is BT like the termination revenue they get for this."

      BT and other UK telcos must handle calls in a non-discriminatory way. They're obliged to make an attempt to terminate the call. Most international calls don't arrive on BT's network - they'll use a switch like Arbinet's in London, get passed over to a UK telco and eventually be handed to BT, if the terminating line is one that BT handles. BT only know the preceding link in the chain - not the originating network or caller. There's no way to confirm the validity of the CLI. There's no telco equivalent of a MAC address.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "BT and other UK telcos must handle calls in a non-discriminatory way."

        So speaks the BT apologist.

        For starters, callerID spoofing is a violation of T&C and secondly most of the foreign-origin fraud calls have a VoiP origin with fraudulent ANI (many of the local ones do too), so the billing data is forged and the terminating telco is likely to never be paid

        Postal services worldwide started refusing incoming nigerian mail in the late 1990s because investigations showed that more than 1/3 of the postage stamps on incoming mail were fakes and the amount of mail was frequently misdeclared - which meant they weren't being paid correctly for delivery.

        The same principle applies here.

        It's also worth noting that the marginal cost of the call filtering services is ZERO, NADA ZIP.

        When I was working for telcos in the 1980s, these whizzy electronic features were introduced and pitched as ways of keeping your customers happy. Whilst we were getting ready to roll them out, accountants intervened when they realised that these free features could be charged for, in the same way that you could charge $8/month for a handset with a total delivered cost of $12

        Telcos COULD offer the filtering services (and all the other ones) built into a switch for free. They choose not to, because they can.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          > Postal services worldwide started refusing incoming nigerian mail in the late 1990s because investigations showed that more than 1/3 of the postage stamps on incoming mail were fakes and the amount of mail was frequently misdeclared - which meant they weren't being paid correctly for delivery.

          Indeed, and that's where I'd start.

          If UK telcos were required to refuse calls from "dodgy" (mostly foreign) telcos then the problem would soon reduce considerably. If a telco find that it can't terminate calls made by it's subscribers then it faces two choices - either fix it's problems or see it's customers leave very quickly. Since the latter means certain death, and probably legal action by the shareholders against the board, they will most likely clean up their act.

          But what is "dodgy" ? I guess a system like the big mail providers use - if enough customer flag your mail (call) as spam then the sender gets blacklisted. Needs some oversight to avoid gaming of the system, but it would quickly weed out the bad telcos that are permitting this sort of thing.

          Another clue - if the data received is shown to be bad, then the telco needs to up it's game.

          Going back a while as there were valid reasons for a telco to not have the required data (old systems etc). I find it hard to believe that any of those are still valid.

  17. Oldfogey

    TPS exceptions

    What most people don't seem to realise is that the TPS works fine. When it doesn't it is either a criminal call, or you have given your number to a firm and failed to tick the box for "do not pass my details to your carefully selected partners" and "do not call me with your latest special offers".

    I get far more spam and phishing calls on mobile than on landline, but they are easy to spot - they let it ring 3 times then cut off.

    1. Cardinal

      Re: TPS exceptions

      I've noticed that most landline nuisance calls only ring 6 times. If it rings 7 times it's ok to pick up. I used to check the 6 ring (unanswered) calls with 1471, but don't bother now. My regular callers now know to ring 7 times. Also, come to think of it, I haven't had ANY nuisance calls for a couple of weeks now whereas I was getting a couple a day previously. Coincidence, or do they actually register that you never answer?

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: TPS exceptions

      "What most people don't seem to realise is that the TPS works fine. When it doesn't it is either a criminal call, or you have given your number to a firm and failed to tick the box for "do not pass my details to your carefully selected partners" and "do not call me with your latest special offers". "

      According to the ICO, that "don't pass me to 3rd parties" had better bloody well be preticked since 2011 or they'll slap the miscreants with a wet bus ticket.

      Yes, breaching TPS is a criminal call. The only outfit which can take criminal prosecution on this is the ICO and they choose not to. There is NO right of private action codified under british law, which means that Sapient Fridge's links are nice but should a company contest the small claims action they're highly likely to win - or should they lose only have to pay your filing fees (there's no codified statutory damages and they can easily argue that the call itself was worth a few pence.).

  18. The Mighty Spang

    i have fun with them

    i used to get annoyed and shout at them, now if i've got time to spare I just try to freak them out. ask them their name, where they live, what they are wearing etc... just go hog wild. pretend you're masturbating or even masturbating somebody else. pull up a streaming porn site and play that in the background and describe whats happening.

    i want these assholes to go to bed at night and not get that image out of their heads, contemplating doing something useful with their lives.

    much more fun than getting angry and reporting them which (in my experience) has done f all to stop them.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: i have fun with them

      Asking them how to get blood out of carpets is always a good one.

      Many apologists for the illegal callers will try and claim that they're only doing a job.

      No they're not, they're accomplices to a criminal act.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: i have fun with them

      "i used to get annoyed and shout at them, now if i've got time to spare I just try to freak them out."

      How do you do that with an automated call? The majority of nuisance calls I get do not involve a human being at the other end any more.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: i have fun with them

        Tell them (in a suitably sinister voice) that you have just placed a curse on them, and to expect ill-fortune to strike their family imminently.

  19. David Kelly 2

    What Good Is The NSA?

    In the USA there would be support for the NSA's logging of all phone calls if only they'd use that data to prosecute those who ignore the government's Do Not Call registry.

  20. MrNed

    Sue the telcos?

    Is there no possibility that customers could take class action against the telcos? After all, the calls are an abuse of the telcos' own Ts&Cs and an abuse of their customers. The telcos are allowing their customers to be abused via their networks, yet appear to do nothing to address the problem.

    99% of the time the calls aren't identifiable (so that's about one identifiable call a day for most of us!). How can one make a complaint against the source of the call if it's unidentifiable? If you respond to the call and ask what company is calling, they immediately hang up (assuming it's not just a recording that is).

    But BT el al allow the practice to continue, and charge customers for blocking services. But, wait a minute, we have to pay to not be abused via their networks? That's extortion isn't it? And they profit from both ends of the deal! No wonder they're happy for it to continue - surely they can be proved responsible, even if only in a civil case?

    Any lawyers out there know if there's actually a legal argument that can be constructed around this?

    And one more thing - who the f**k respond to these things to make companies think it's worth the effort? It must be in the order of millions of calls to one 'hit'!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No New Laws Required

    Whilst an incoming call might withhold its number from me, the network knows the originators number because it has to attach a charge to it.

    If I receive a call I want blocked all I should have to do is type 555 on my keypad whilst in-call and the network should stop all calls from that number from ever connecting to my number again, they can still charge the originator if they want. *

    It's not rocket science, it's a bloody computer - program it properly.

    * route the unwanted call to an ELISA machine

  22. JRvdP

    a different approach ?

    Recently I've been getting a lot of calls from automated systems asking me to press 5 if I want a call back - I request a callback every time. The people on the end then get really annoyed when they call back to receive a polite inquiry as to what they're offering and then a request to remove my number from their lists. If enough people do it, hopefully the self selection of gullible punters will become economically useless and they'll stop using the automatic switchboards - try it please.

  23. Velv Silver badge
    Pirate

    Nuisance calls are one reason the recipient must never be required to pay any part of any termination charge. There's regular rumblings in the industry about changing the model, but until the telcos can properly control the source customer the source telco must be fully responsible for all costs.

  24. Roj Blake Silver badge

    The company I used to work for would get a couple of calls a week offering us cheap phone calls.

    Informing the callers that we didn't use phones used to confuse them no end.

  25. Nifty

    When I was getting a mortgage the building society had a habit of calling my mobile on essential matters with caller withheld. Similarly I've had calls from bank security dept with number withheld. So I've so far been reluctant to set the block anonymous callers thing on my mobile.

  26. Colin 4
    Coat

    Spam the bastards back!

    As a father of 2, I can't ignore any call with ID withheld unless I know for SURE my kids are with me or otherwise OK - 'cos you never know.

    However, whenever I get a human spam call with no ID nowadays, and it's not TOO inconvenient (like, I'm on the bog for example), I like to have a bit of fun with them ...

    "Hello sir, my name is Brainless Moron calling from Bastards Incorporated - I wonder if you can spare a few minutes of your time?"

    "Sure, but firstly do you have a pen and paper handy?"

    "Er ... yes, why?"

    "Excellent. Right, hold on while I give you an account number and sort code ..."

    "Er .. what? Why?"

    "Well, so you can pay for my time of course. My fee for listening to you is £50 per hour, is that OK? Once I confirm your payment, you may call me back"

    "...!?"

    "Yeah, well now you know how it feels, you bloodsucking scumbag. Now why don't you go and get a REAL job doing something useful. Or just jump off a cliff. Whatever."

    <click>

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