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How to deal with cold callers

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Cold callers are really a pain aren’t they?  I get at least one spam phone call a day on my mobile phone and sometimes up to 10 or so!  Luckily I don’t use my mobile for business calls as I deal with everything via email, so I am able to ignore any phone number that I do not recognise.  I then simply block the phone number as I am always certain it’s a nuisance call or someone trying to sell me something I simply don’t need.  If it’s someone that does know me and need me then I assume they will leave a voicemail and I will return the call.

I’m always amazed that I get at least one unknown number ringing my mobile every single day, but apparently Britain is the worst country in Europe for dealing with nuisance cold-callers, so maybe it’s not surprising after all. In Britain there were 2.2 billion phone calls last year (that’s 4,200 phone calls and messages every minute) with most having the intent to scam people.  It’s a bit of a problem isn’t it?

We don’t have a landline anymore, or at least we don’t have a phone plugged into it, but nuisance callers are even more of a nuisance when you don’t realise who is calling and have to answer!  We did previously have a landline installed at our home and I’m not kidding – around half hour after plugging a phone in to our new landline when we moved in we had a cold caller!  That was enough to make us feel we couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of a landline and would just use our mobile phones anyway.

57% of Brits say the most annoying thing about owning a phone is the nuisance calls and I agree. I’ve teamed up with True Solicitors LLP, a company that can spot medical negligence claims occurrences from cold-callers in a heartbeat.

We’re going to share with you some advice of what to do when a cold caller calls you to stop them from bothering you and hopefully they won’t be calling back in a hurry!

The most common types of cold calls

The most common types of cold calls are regarding pensions, payment protection insurance (PPI) and other insurances.  These topics result in around six million per day, including text messages. 

Ah.  Text message spam.  I forgot to mention the joy of text message spam in the introduction!  Not only are we bombarded with junk mail, spam emails, unsolicited sales people at our front doors and nuisance calls, but now we get random companies or scammers trying to sell us things via text message too!

The worst part about cold calling (whether in person, text message or phone call) is the fact they often prey on older people who are more vulnerable.  Companies saying they’re specialists in injury claims or experts in holiday sickness claims made a total of 895 million calls and texts. Those over the age of 65 found experienced the majority of the calls — posing the question: are companies like this preying on older people who are likely to be more vulnerable?

Here’s how to deal with those pesky callers:

Ignore the phone call

Firstly, you can simply choose to ignore the phone call.  This is harder to do if your phone does not tell you who is calling, for example on a landline which does not have a caller ID function.  If it is on your mobile phone, however, you should be able to see the number calling you.  If it’s unknown or a number you don’t recognise and you are not expecting a call then it’s probably a cold caller.  I always ignore these sorts of calls and wait to see if they leave an answer phone message.  If not then I assume it’s a nuisance call.

Block the phone number

If it is a nuisance call then you may be able to block the phone number from calling or texting you depending on your type of phone.  On my iPhone I am able to add phone numbers to a block list with a few clicks.

Hang up

You are under no obligation to talk to these callers so if you’ve answered a cold call and don’t want to talk to them then you can just hang up.  Simply say you’re not interested and are going to end the call, or just hang up without saying anything.  I expect they are used to it as most people do not like being contacted out of the blue in this way.

Waste their time

If you have the time to spare then why not waste their time?  Perhaps go along with the conversation about whatever it is they are trying to sell to you and pretend you are interested.  Of course time is very precious and valuable to them as they will be trying to reach a certain number of sales per day. 

I always remember a funny story of someone telling me they went along with the spiel from a conservatory sales person for ages and them thinking they had a sale, until the customer said it was amazing they’d be able to put a conservatory on his third floor flat with no garden.  They had simply revelled in wasting the annoying cold caller’s time!

Simply act interested at the start, they’ll start their sales patter and after they’ve put the effort into doing that — just admit that you’re not really interested and you can even admit that you were just wasting their time (as cold callers waste yours by constantly calling). They’ll not want to ring your number again!

Tell them you’ll record the call

Once you realise they are just an unwanted cold caller say “Hello, just to let you know that I will be recording this phone call as you’re not complying with the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations of 2003. This legislation has been put in place to help restrict marketing methods through cold-calling, unsolicited texts, emails, and faxes”.  

Hopefully they’ll hang up before you even finish speaking!

Say you’re bankrupt

There’s only one thing that cold callers ever want and that is your money!  They are trying to sell you something or get you to donate to something.  Or they want to make a claim on your behalf and take a hefty commission!

If they are trying to sell you something that requires a credit agreement then you could simply tell them you have recently been declared bankrupt!

Sell them something

I’ve always thought it would be amusing to turn the conversation around and to try and sell them something instead!  Use their pitch on them or reword it.  If you’re great at acting and improvisation then this could be a rather amusing way to deal with the caller.  You never know, you might even sell something!

Speak a different language  

As they’re targeting your home in Britain, they’re likely expecting you to speak English. Don’t conform to what they want! If you can speak another language, try doing that, and as they won’t be able to understand what you’re saying, they will hang up. If you don’t know another language, make it up and this will leave them even more confused than what they originally were.

Final word 

Hopefully the more people who don’t accept cold callers or play them at their own game, the less they will call and perhaps the practice will even become redundant.  With 2.2 billion cold calls just last year it doesn’t seem likely anytime soon but with GDPR and people’s data and consent a hot topic, perhaps more legislation is on the horizon.