2018-05-04

How can we have effective laws against cold callers?

So, today, once again, we get a call (no CLI) claiming to be from "Boiler Cover UK".

The guy kept phoning, would not take no, or "fuck off", for an answer, denied he was selling something (clearly he is selling boiler cover, and indeed said so on some calls), denied breaking any regulations or laws (well, PECR for one!), and I had to threaten to call the police before he stopped calling. Though, they have calls before and I bet we get more next month.

It just pisses me off in the extreme.

I'm tempted to involve the police, as its has got to the stage of criminal harassment now. But it seems a lot of work for the police, and they are pretty stretched on more serious matters really, so not really reasonable.

Sadly the PECR is basically useless, as I found from personal experience, as the only recourse you can take yourself is to sure for damages and judges are not always prepared to accept "wasting your time" as damages in any way. Yes, in theory, the ICO can fine people, but we know from experience that even when presented with tens of thousands of call recordings, each of which is a breach, they won't do anything!

We need the law to have a civil cost of like £50 for such calls minimum. That way I can sue! If everyone called by these bastards sued for £50 they would soon stop, indeed, if only a small percentage sued, they would stop.

We probably should have some extra protection such that no contract is valid if created on receipt of one of these unlawful calls. That way I could take the call, sign up for what they are selling, pay by card (so as to establish the money trail). Have the bank claw back the payment because contract unlawful, and sue for damages now we know who is actually taking the money.

That way normal people would actually see every unsolicited cold call as a means to MAKE MONEY off these scumbags, as at least some compensation for the hassle caused.

I almost wonder if the actual individual callers should per made personally liable. After all, normally, working for some criminal does not absolve you of personally committing a crime, so surely working for someone that commits acts that are unlawful under regulations like the PECR should not absolve you personally from liability resulting from that.

If people knew that working in a call centre making outgoing marketing calls risked fines and civil costs personally, they would have nobody to make the damn calls.

OK, is this post a tad ranty? Yes, I am pissed off in the extreme with this arsehole. Sorry.

14 comments:

  1. Disappointed, you didn't post any call recordings. :(

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    1. For a change, indeed. I felt I was perhaps swearing at him too much this time. :-)

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    2. One can never swear too much at a cold caller.

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  2. RevK ranty? Surely not, Shirley :)

    Guess you've seen Ofcom's plans for CLIs from Oct: https://tinyurl.com/ydcbye3d

    For me No CLI = blocked (though I know some valid services block their CLI, *sigh*)

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    1. This is indeed a problem. Hospitals & NHS generally don't provide CLI. I have been in correspondence with our local hospital about providing presentation CLI but I've got nowhere. So I can't just block 'Witheld', and even sending them to the answering machine is no good, as NHS won't leave a message - patient confidentiality & all that:(

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    2. There may be an answer for that to be honest. Ideally we could do with expensive numbers. I do not mean "premium rate", i.e. numbers where part of the cost of the call is paying for some service or goods or donation, I mean simply a service that is expensive to call. In most cases a call from a hospital will not be an issue, should not be a long call, they can ask you to call back, etc, but junk callers won't touch them. As it is now, we can do 03 numbers (which are normal rate to call) which I suspect junk callers don't touch, or even 055 numbers which people do not have a clue what they cost and would be ignored by junk callers. So one option is "normal" number has ACR to block unknown callers, but have an 033 or 056 number to give to hospitals and so on to call you which has no ACR.

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    3. Or a service where instead of blocking the anonymous call you play that caller a message asking them to call the number with the odd sounding prefix?

      Maybe even a "this number has changed to" message.

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    4. The NHS is at breaking point already so they certainly don't have money to waste on calling expensive numbers; they just wouldn't call.

      But they obviously haven't thought things through. Letters are sent in envelopes that bear the patient's name and scream "NHS" in huge letters ! And the automated reminders calls about upcoming appointments start "This is a call from [Hospital Name] for [Patient Name]" so there's no confidentiality there either.

      Don't forget that Anonymous Call Reject would also block these reminder calls: robo-calls don't respond to greetings from answering machines !

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    5. I seldom give out my landline or mobile numbers to organisations or websites that insist on a contact number: instead I have an expensive Flextel 07017 personal number to minimise the risk of nuisance calls.

      I still receive 10 - 15 nuisance calls per month but I don't want to pay for ACR or go ex-directory.

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    6. Nice one! Is there a way I can sign up for a free premium rate number and give that out on contact forms so that spammers call me at great expense and I make loads of money

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  3. As usual with Ofcom, it's just far too little, far too late: they have only mandated that Caller Display must eventually be free. However, they should also instruct all telcos to offer Anonymous Call Reject, Choose to Refuse and Automatic Call Trace free of charge.

    ACT (1477) logs the offender's number even if it's withheld, and would therefore be an extremely useful weapon against nuisance calls. Sadly, it's never available and hardly anyone knows it exists, including BT. Apparently it's a chargeable service that's only available on business lines.

    There are basically three things that would stop nuisance calls overnight.

    1) JAIL the directors of UK companies that are found to be buying sales leads obtained by organisations calling TPS-listed numbers. This would solve the problem of overseas call centres that think they can break the law with impunity by using unavailable, withheld or spoofed numbers.

    2) Mandate that all telcos offer the BT Call Protect service or an equivalent, at no charge and using the same database.

    3) An automated service, probably an enhanced version of 1477, whereby the recipient of a nuisance call can report it by dialling a short code immediately afterwards. Any number reported more than a few times would be added to the block list and referred to the ICO for prosecution. This would avoid the need for faffing around with the ICO's clunky website, and would empower vulnerable people who are not online.

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    1. I have to say I am actually pretty impressed by BT Call Protect, even “out the box” without blocking international and withheld just relying on them central BT list of unwanted callers our home phone stopped ringing overnight basically with one call in a week rather than 3-4 per day... and to give BT their credit I think that was unlucky, as a proof of concept I changed my office DDI to the dodgy number via our Gamma SIP trunks (we have a CLI flexibility agreement in place - mainly to allow calls tromboned to our mobiles to show the original CLI and also to allow us to present any of our ISDN DDIs if the call route out via the SIP trunks) and a couple of days later than number was clearly on the central list - guess someone has to be unlucky for them to be able to spot the suspect trends and work out its dodgy.

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  4. On this side of the pond, I find that all one has to do is announce "There's been a death in the family!" and the caller is required by law to hang up. Works like a charm.

    There's also the national Do Not Call registry, where I report unwanted calls as they show up on my Caller ID—even if they just leave voicemail—but I have to admit this is pretty ineffectual.

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    1. Methinks the cold callers don’t give a flying turd about the law, if they did then they wouldn’t be spamming us with PPI offers and bogus government grants on a Sunday lunchtime

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