7th September 2015
An ever-rising number of people are being harassed by companies cold-calling them to offer services, which are supposed to block cold calls, claims Citizens Advice.
The national charity has found that people have complained of aggressive selling, faulty goods and being unable to cancel contracts after being contacted by companies claiming to offer cold call blocking devices.
In the last year alone the charity dealt with a 72% increase in the number of cases relating to the ‘bogus selling’ of cold call blocking services.
Just last month, Stop The Calls a company, which offered a nuisance call blocking service was fined £50,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office. It found that the company had called people registered with the TPS, made repeated calls, sometimes several on the same day, and ignored requests by people to stop calling.
Cold call blocking devices essentially allow the owner to screen calls and decide which ones they will accept. Citizens Advice finds some companies are cold calling people to offer call-blocking services.
But evidence from the charity revealed many people are complaining about receiving nuisance calls from blocking companies despite registering for free with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – which means they should not receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
The calls may be coming from abroad or could be a result of UK companies deliberately ignoring the law, which requires them to check if people are on the TPS list before phoning.
Some people have complained about cold call fraudsters misleading them into believing their friends and family have already purchased the blocking devices, while others report callers falsely claiming to be from the TPS, or to be working with the Government or Trading Standards.
But the research even found that people are still being hassled even after they have bought a cold call blocker.
Last year Citizens Advice estimates that it has helped people with 2,500 call blocking service issues overall. The charity is calling on the ICO and Trading Standards to continue to clamp down on companies that harass and mislead customers, often offering substandard cold call blockers.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Rogue traders are exploiting the problems they claim to solve. In some cases people have been bullied into buying blocking devices while others have been charged an upfront annual fee instead of the monthly instalments they had been expecting to pay.
“The ICO should continue to take enforcement action against cold call companies that flout the law. Trading Standards need to take enforcement action against companies using aggressive and misleading sales tactics, which can force people into buying a product that either doesn’t work or that they don’t want.”
Citizens Advice said some companies offer a legitimate and often valuable service that eases problems with cold calling without pestering people over the phone but is concerned dodgy outfits are exploiting the market.
If you are being harassed by cold call blocking technology companies you can: