I have been contacted by a number of constituents about the menace of nuisance calls. I hope the following information will help you all tackle this inconvenience and annoyance.

  • There are some measures that can be taken to avoid these calls:-
  • Consider registering with Telephone Preference Service. There are more details on how to do this further down the page.
  • Contact your Telephone Provider to discuss Nuisance Calls Options.
  • Consider Call Blocking Options. NB there are some scam companies offering this service, so take advice on most suitable option. Which? has reviewed a range of call blocking devices
  • Consider changing your number
  • Report your concerns to the Information Commissioners Office 

Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) 2003, unsolicited marketing telephone calls are not allowed to be made to a consumer who has previously notified the caller that they do not wish to receive such calls, or has been registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) for at least 28 days. This is a free service for consumers and it is the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is a legal requirement that all organisations, including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties, do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so.

If you have an ongoing relationship with an organisation and they view you as a customer, or for example if you have been a donor to a charity, you may well have given your consent during the early stages of your relationship with them, and they will therefore be entitled to call you, even if your number is registered on TPS, unless you have previously told them specifically that you object to them calling you for marketing purposes.

As TPS registration only prevents marketing calls, organisations will still be able to call you for the purposes of genuine market research.

To register your number or make a complaint with the TPS you can do so with the following options.
The quickest and easiest way is to do this online
Email: tps@dma.org.uk
Telephone: 0345 070 0707 You can call this number to register your number or request a complaint form.
Or write to:-
Telephone Preference Service (TPS)
DMA House
70 Margaret Street
London W1W 8SS

If you continue to receive live telesales calls despite complaining to the TPS, then you can make complaints to the ICO through this link

Alternatively you can contact them via telephone at 0303 123 1113 or 1625 545 745 or by post to: First Contact Team, Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF.

If you have received a scam telephone call then there are many steps you can take. To protect yourself, always be wary about giving personal information to anyone you do not know, or to a firm you are unsure of – if in any doubt whatsoever do not provide any information.

Complaints about a trader should be directed in the first instance to Citizens Advice. Citizens Advice provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues.

Their contact details are as follows:

Tel 03454 040506 (lines open 9:00-17:00 Monday to Friday) Website: www.adviceguide.org.uk And:www.citizensadvice.org.uk/contact_us.htm

Technology is improving all the time and Vodafone have recently announced they have installed new barring technology across their UK mobile network, which means it is now able to block bulk nuisance and scam calls from entering its network in a move which will significantly reduce distress for customers. This is an essential step on the path to defeating these scammers. Hopefully, more companies will follow and invest in technology to block the hundreds of thousands of nuisance and fraudulent calls, such as false PPI offers, missed call scams, or expensive numbers to ring for bogus offers and prizes at source before they get through to customers.

SPAM SMS

The TPS can also accept the registration of mobile telephone numbers, however it is important to note that this will prevent the receipt of marketing voice calls but not SMS (text) messages as they are not covered by the same legislation that regulates live sales and marketing calls.

If you wish to stop receiving SMS marketing messages, please send an 'opt-out' request to the company involved.

A company should only send you an SMS if you have given them prior permission. Identifying the companies that send these texts can be difficult but you can report these to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO)

If the text is from an unknown company you should report the text message to your network operator, who may be able to prevent further messages from the originating number. You can either contact your network operator's customer services or use one of the reporting numbers below:

  • EE, Orange, T-Mobile and O2: Forward the SMS to 7726
  • Vodafone: Forward the SMS to 7726 or 87726
  • Three: Forward the SMS to 7726 or 37726

An easy way to remember 7726 is that they are the numbers on your telephone keypad that spell out the word SPAM.

For a full list of the different types of unwanted calls you might receive and who to contact please see OFCOM's Consumer guide

Postal Scams and Junk Mail

The Mailing Preference Service (MPS)  is a free service set up 20 years ago and funded by the direct mail industry to enable consumers to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from lists used by the industry. It is actively supported by the Royal Mail and all directly involved trade associations and fully supported by The Information Commissioners Office.

The MPS Consumer File is a list of names and addresses of consumers who have told them they wish to limit the amount of direct mail they receive. The use of the Consumer File by list-owners and users is a requirement of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing administered by the Advertising Standards Authority. It is also a condition under the Code of Practice of the Direct Marketing Association.

The MPS will prevent the receipt of unsolicited direct mailings sent from member companies of the Direct Marketing Association and will take steps to prevent the receipt of unsolicited direct mailings from companies which are non-DMA members.

You can expect to continue to receive mailings from companies with whom you have done business in the past. You may also receive mailings from small, local companies. If you wish these mailings to be stopped, you must notify these companies directly. It will take up to 4 months for the Service to have full effect although you should notice a reduction in mail during this period.

Registering with the MPS is FREE, so beware of any company asking you to pay to be put on this scheme as this will be a scam.

You can register with the MPS online,  or by phoning 0845 703 4599 (note this is an 'automated registration line' – be prepared to chat with a computer).

Unfortunately the MPS will not stop mail that has been sent from overseas, un-addressed material or mail addressed to The Occupier. Postal scams are letters sent with the sole intention of obtaining money through deception or fraud.

There are many different types of scam mail, such as fake lotteries and prize draws, get-rich-quick schemes, bogus health cures, investment scams and pyramid selling.

Which? Gives some good advice on how to recognise some of these scams and also how to report scams

People who want to report a potential postal scam can write to Royal Mail at Freepost Scam Mail, phone 03456 113 413, or email scam.mail@royalmail.com.

Scams, Rogue Traders and Doorstep Crime

Trading Standards have provided some important information on how to keep safe when targeted by a scam and how important it is to protect your personal details as scams come in various guises and fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

When targeted by a scam, people often wonder how the con artist seemed to know things about them, such as their marital status or their address. The fact is that in the modern world, all sorts of information is available about nearly all of us from a variety of sources, whether we want it to be or not. Scammers are also good at conning us into believing they know more than they do, as well as making it sound as if information they've got from us is something they were already aware of.

Knowing things about us can give scammers an air of legitimacy and makes it easier for them to fool us, as well as to get more information from us. However there are certain things you can do to both make your personal details less easily available, as well as so that you know what to look out for when people try to use your details to con you.

  • Always Remember: Your bank or the police will never ask for your pin number.
  • They will also never send a courier or taxi driver to collect you or your credit/debit card, or to pick up money that they've told you to withdraw. THIS IS A SCAM, no matter what scare tactics are used (such as claims fraud has been detected on your account). If you get a call like this, report it to the police and/or Action Fraud.

Keeping Your Details To Yourself

Only give out your details when absolutely necessary. Just because a form has boxes for age, gender etc. does not necessarily mean it's either needed or that you must fill it in (although it's worth checking to see if you do).If a form has an option saying something like 'Would you like to receive offers or promotions from third parties', make sure you show that you do not want this.When you sign up for the electoral register, you can mark that you do not want to be on the publicly available list. Some organisations use the public register to legitimately check people's details (you may find, for example, that it is more difficult to get a loan from some companies if you're not on the public register), however it also makes your details available to marketers and scammers.Sign up for things such as the Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service. This should not just cut down on the amount of junk mail and sales calls you get, but also lessens the opportunities for people to try and get personal details out of you.

Don't Allow Yourself To Be Led

One tactic scammers use is to suggest they know more than they actually do. Scammers often use details they already have to try and find out more information and then lead you to the point you are giving them money. For example, they may phone up and say they know which bank you're with or which energy company you use. Sometimes it might be even more personal, such as which school you went to, or what gym you're a member of. They may be guessing but there's a good chance they've got these details from a marketing list or social media profile.

They use what they know to give the impression of legitimacy (e.g. that they are from your gym, or working on behalf of your energy company) and also so that you let your guard down and they can find out more about you. Even if you don't fall for the initial scam, any information you give could be used by a con artist to tailor their next approach. A caller may well be legitimate, but if you aren't certain about them, it is best to err on the side of caution.

Remember that just because someone says they know something about you, it doesn't mean that they're not either guessing or that they have gained that information legitimately. Particularly with unsolicited calls, the onus is on them to prove they are who they say they are, and that what they're saying is legitimate.

Also, do not give out information just to get rid of someone. This is an increasingly common ploy by dodgy marketing companies, who tell you they cannot remove you from their lists until you confirm your name, address and other details. While they say telling them this information will prevent them or others phoning you, in reality it's possible your details will be sold to others and the number of calls will increase.

Call Them Back

If you aren't certain who's on the other end of the line, most legitimate businesses – such as banks, energy firms and other major companies you may deal with – will give you the option of calling them back on a publicly available number, or offer some other method of verification. If you do decide to call a company back, use a different phone or wait at least five minutes, as it has been known for scammers to keep the line open, so that when you phone back you are still talking to them rather than who you think you've just phoned.

Anyone who says there's no other way to contact them or who won't provide a way to verify their legitimacy, should be treated with extreme caution. If they do give you a number to call them back on, check that it really is a number for that organisation. If it's different to the number on their website or which directory enquiries gives you, call the official line and ask whether the number you've been given is a genuine one for that company. If not, or if they are unsure, do not phone the number you've been given. Alternatively you can try to access the department you were supposedly called by on an official line you feel confident about.

Social Media & Online

With the rise in popularity of sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, people are often posting a treasure trove of personal details online, which scammers can use to target you.

People have been burgled after announcing on Facebook that they were going on holiday (or even to a funeral), while others have been approached by 'old school friends', who were actually con artists who only knew what school someone went to because of their social media profiles.

There are things you can do to protect yourself:

Most social media sites offer a range of privacy options. Facebook and Google+ allow you to sort contacts into groups so that, for example, your close friends and families get access to everything, but you can hide your phone number, e-mail address and various other things from casual acquaintances.

Ensure you block those not in your friend group from having access to any of your details. Many people don't realise they have Facebook set up so anyone can see almost anything they write or have on their profile.

Twitter has fewer privacy settings – it's either every tweet is public or only those you accept as followers can see what you say (there are also direct messages, which are private).

Generally Twitter should be treated as a public forum, as most of the time anyone has access to anything you say whether you wish them to or not. Even if you block someone they can still read your tweets, they just can't contact you.Even if you think something is private it's still sensible to watch what you post online, just in case. Anyone who receives even the most private of messages can easily spread it further via social media if they want to. Be extra wary of posting personally identifying information, even inadvertently.

Some people have been caught out by posting photos that showed their credit cards. Scammers copied the card numbers and used them to make purchases. Always be wary of new acquaintances you meet online, or indeed those who say they are old acquaintances but you can't remember them. If someone sends you a friend request, you do not have to accept. They may be genuine but they could be a scammer.

It's also important to remember that just because someone is already friends with one of your friends, it doesn't mean they are trustworthy. If you do make new friends online, don't let your heart rule your head. The classic example is someone who starts an online relationship with somebody from overseas. After several weeks or months of online romance, the person overseas begins asking for money, usually cash that they need to get to the UK. They then ask for more and more money, often offering a series of problems, traumas and upsets that mean it's going to cost more than they originally said. This goes on until the person in the UK either realises they're being scammed or runs out of money. Online connections and relationships can feel very real and intense, but remember, you have no guarantees that anything someone tells you online is true – even their photographs could be of somebody else.

I do hope some of the above helps to avoid anyone being scammed.

Remember if it sounds too good to be true, the chances are that it is exactly that!