4 Ways to Deal With Nuisance Calls (and Beat Spammers at Their Own Game)
Four Coping Strategies for Unsolicited Calls
1. Screen all incoming calls with a call-blocker.
2. Answer the phone, but treat the call like a game.
3. Record the scammer and take revenge.
4. Install an app that out-talks scammers.
What are Nuisance or Unsolicited Phone Calls?
Nuisance calls are any phone calls that are unwanted, persistent, and ignore official attempts to deter them. They are often from fraudsters who are out to get your money. They can also be from stalker-types like an ex-partner or an unwanted admirer. Whatever their source the calls are annoying and upsetting. For most people a phone is an essential lifeline so they feel obliged to answer it. Nuisance callers invade your safe place and make you feel vulnerable.
Do not let these low-life get to you. You need to regain control so that you feel safe again in your own home. Here are four good coping strategies to rid yourself of this menace.
1. Screen All Incoming Calls
First, make sure your phone number is registered with your government’s call-blocking scheme. In US, the Federal Trade Commission offers a free registration with the National Do Not Call List. Also in US, the Better Business Bureau has a list of known scammers that you can consult. In UK, the free Telephone Preference Service allows you to opt out of direct marketers calling lists (but this only applies to companies that are UK based). The contact details for all these services are given at the end of this article.
Such preference schemes only relate to law-abiding tele-marketing companies. Fraudsters and stalkers will ignore your wishes and continue to call and harass you even if you are registered with a scheme. You should therefore consider buying a call-blocking machine. These are easy to operate and give peace of mind.
I use the and recommend it. When you block a call the machine remembers the caller’s number and automatically blocks them the next time they call. It comes preloaded with 5,000 of the most common scammer phone numbers already blocked. You can add or remove numbers from this list anytime. The video below shows how a call-blocking device works and how simple it is to use. CPR V5000 Call Blocker
Stop the Telemarketer Nightmare
2. Answer, But Make It a Game
I love this strategy. The idea is that you play along with the call, but in an annoying way so that the caller gets fed up and stops calling you. If you’re feeling a bit nervous then this strategy is not easy, but persevere and you will begin to enjoy it as the game play works.
You need to hold your nerve and remember that you are in control. You can end the call any time you choose. Some ideas to try are as follows:
- Blow down the mouthpiece to imitate “interference” on the line.
- Keep repeating the same word whatever question the caller asks. Just saying “yes” or “no” works best, but you mustn’t say any other word or the strategy fails.
- Pretend you are a bit deaf and keep asking them to repeat what they said but a bit louder.
- Tell them you need to find a pen and put them on “hold”. Then go away and forget about the call.
The video below shows how blowing into the phone can annoy your caller. You can find many other examples on YouTube of how to irritate your nuisance caller.
Annoy a Telemarketer by Blowing Down the Phone
Tiresome cold-callers are a fact of modern life. But if you can outwit them, spike their guns, perhaps even help them see the error of their ways, you will feel a nice afterglow as you put down the receiver.— Max Davidson in "The Telegraph"
How do you deal with nuisance telemarketing calls?
3. Record the Scammer and Take Revenge
One consumer in the UK got so fed up with nuisance calls that he decided to turn the tables on the guilty telemarketing firm. Richard Herman works from home and his time is valuable. His phone is an essential part of his business as that is the way customers contact him. He needs to be able to take calls from unknown numbers, so blocking “number withheld” callers is not an option.
Richard started by contacting the body responsible for regulating marketing calls in the UK, but because the company was calling from another country they were unable to help. The calls continued and so Richard decided to take his own action on the offending marketers.
The next time the caller rang, Richard warned him that if the calls continued, they would be recorded and the company would be invoiced for wasting his time. Unsurprisingly this did not stop the calls, but this consumer did exactly what he said he would do; he billed the telemarketing company. When they did not respond, he took them to court. The result was they had to pay him the money he claimed and his court fee too.
The video below shows Richard Herman talking about his success against an annoying nuisance telemarketing firm. (Some abbreviations he uses in the video: PPI – Personal Protection Insurance claims, TPS – Telephone Preference Service, BT – British Telecom, a phone company.)
How Richard Herman Stopped Unsolicited Telesales Calls
Six Ways to Keep Your Details Off Cold Calling Lists
1. Register with the National Do Not Call List or the Telephone Preference Service.
2. Always check (tick) marketing “opt out” boxes on sales forms.
3. Screen phone calls with caller display or an answering machine.
4. Set up call barring for unwanted calls.
5. Use a call blocking device such as CPR Call Blocker.
6. Report offenders to the authorities if you can get their number.
An estimated one in every 10 American adults lost money in a phone scam in 2016.
On average, each scam victim lost $430, totaling about $9.5 billion overall.
That was an increase of 56% from the 2015 survey, when victims on average lost $274 each.— marketwatch.com
4. Install an App That Out-Talks Scammers
This kind of app is a variation on the “making it a game” idea. Instead of you having to think what to say to the nuisance caller, a robot (in the form of an app) does the talking for you. Using clues from the tone of the caller’s voice and some key word triggers, the robot is able to annoy with long-winded conversation. You can outwit annoying tele-marketeers by hogging their call time with an app such as Robokiller. The video below demonstrates how effective such robots can be.
Perfect Revenge on Tele-Marketers
The Fightback Against Spam Callers Has Begun
In 2017, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) imposed fines totaling £935,000 (US $1,338,000) on seven firms found guilty of sending spam SMS texts and making nuisance calls. This may sound like a large amount, but in reality, this is no deterrent as profits from cold-calling can be huge.
The seven convicted firms had together sent more than 163 million automated nuisance calls, 1.2 million unwanted text messages and 1.9 million intrusive emails in 2017. The worst offending company was responsible for making 146 million calls about payment protection insurance (PPI) in just four months.
The ICO is the watchdog body responsible for monitoring firms’ cold calling behavior. It has 100’s more similar investigations in progress. 2018 should see many more fines imposed totaling millions of pounds.
Useful Contact Details
In the US, Register your phone numbers with the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call List.
The BBB Scam Stopper gives up-to-date information on fraudulent callers in US.
In the UK, register with the Information Commissioner's Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to opt out of marketing calls.
Say No to Cold Calls is a website set up by Richard Herman with template letters to send to nuisance telemarketing companies.