Call blocking devices – eveything you need to know

by , Technology Researcher Phones 27/11/2013
Call Blocker

Want to stop nuisance calls? If you’ve signed up to the TPS and are still plagued by double glazing salespeople then it may be worth investing in a call blocking device.

There are several call blockers available and they all offer an extra level of protection from unwanted calls. Trouble is, these devices can also cost you up to £95 for the privilege. We explain what a call blocker is, whether you need one and which models are worth buying.

Calling time on nuisance calls and texts – join our official campaign

What is a nuisance call?

In July, Which? research revealed more than eight in ten of us have received a nuisance call in the last month. While a free sign-up to the TPS is supposed to lessen the amount of calls you receive, 57% of people we spoke to with an active TPS registration were dissatisfied with the service.

The main reason for this is that the TPS only covers live unsolicited sales and marketing calls. If you’re pestered with recorded sales messages or market research calls, then it’s powerless to help.

Can a nuisance call blocker help me?

There are two types of call blocking devices: those that come preinstalled with a phone, and those you buy separately. Both allow you to screen the calls you receive but each offers a different level of protection. When buying a call blocker you should be mindful of the total amount of phone numbers you can block and the caller IDs it is compatible with.

Call blocking devices generally offer better value than a paid-for service from your phone provider, such as BT’s ‘Choose to Refuse’ for example. These will usually have limited powers and typically cost between £3.30 to £4.40/month.

What call blockers are available?

BT 6500 phone – from £45 (single handset) to £110 (quad pack)
BT 6500

The BT6500 can block up to 10 specific incoming numbers or all calls of a certain type, like international calls or those from a withheld number. This also means that it will block any calls that are routed through switchboards, such as those from a local hospital or friends and family overseas.

Which? members, Bob and Wendy Ham, found the BT 6500 reduced the amount of nuisance calls they received from 25 to just 4 in two weeks. That said, they felt that blocking just ten numbers was of limited value, and that the blocking of withheld and international calls meant they might miss important calls.

CPR Call Blocker – £40
CPR Call Blocker

The CPR Call Blocker comes pre-programmed with the numbers of 200 nuisance callers and has a ‘Block Now’ button that allows you to stop new numbers from getting through. It also enables you to block withheld and international numbers. Disappointingly, it doesn’t give you the option to record messages.

When Which? members John and Avice Harbottle tested the CPR Call Blocker they only got two calls during their fortnight of using it, both of which they blocked and haven’t heard from since. The Harbottles were unable to block all international calls because they have friends living abroad, but thought that the CPR Call Blocker was still worth buying.

TrueCall Call Blocker – £95
TrueCall Call Blocker

The TrueCall Call Blocker works by screening your calls, connecting those you want and blocking those you don’t. The unit keeps a list of ‘friends and family’ numbers and puts them straight through if they call. But if the caller isn’t on the list it then asks them to say their name – if they do so your phone will ring, the unit will announce who’s on the line and you can decide if you want to speak to them.

Dr Howard Manwaring found that the TrueCall had successfully blocked five callers after checking the device’s online log. He wasn’t bothered by any nuisance calls during his time with it, describing the device as a ‘good product that works well, but is rather expensive’.

Calling time on nuisance calls – join the campaign

Although investing in a call blocker can be a useful purchase, we don’t think you should have to pay money to be rid of the scourge of nuisance calls. That’s why we’re calling for strict new measures against the thoroughly irritating phenomenon. Join the 100,000 people who have already pledged their support to our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign.

Have you had success with any particular call blocking device? If you have let us know in the comments section below.

More on this

Which? research shows the TPS is failing to block nuisance calls – read the full story
I keep getting unwanted calls and text messages – the Consumer Rights guide
How to stop nuisance phone calls – our top tips

39 comments

Add your comments

avatar

Brian Mitchell

For 12 months prior to last Xmas I was receiving up to 15 to 20 calls per day by cold callers in particular one name was very ofton asked for and that was for “Niomie “Kirman”. Every time I told them , mostly credit houses, I even reported them to trading standards but that didn’t get me anywhere, then I saw advertised the C.P.R. Phone blocker as recommended above by Which. After approx 3 weeks all unwanted calls stopped and I found peace at last. For less than £50 this marvelous little gadget worked great. You can block an incoming call by the press of a button or you can put the numbers in that you don’t want. You can also block overseas and even if you are getting nuisance calls from a particular area then you can just block the area code. Even with held number. Worth every penny. Brian

avatar

DR D W L Smith

Call blockers would be more effective if BT displayed all incoming numbers

Spanish telephone system displays all numbers even from abroad so why can’t BT?

avatar

Haring

I completely agree, BT not passing on caller ID from international networks is one of the biggest problems in combatting nuisance calls, as many of us cannot reasonably ignore or block all international calls. The German phone system, like the Spanish, also displays caller ID for international calls and same is true for calls on your UK mobile, where international calls come in with caller ID all the time. BT need to pull their finger out and bring the UK landline phone system into the 21st century.

The second big problem is large switchboards from legitimate companies, organisations and institutions (such as hospitals) which are badly set up such that their outgoing calls have the caller ID withheld. There is no reason why a general customer service number should not be set as the caller ID for such calls, even if the individual extension can or should not be given out. There is no technical reason why this cannot be done, it’s just laziness and lack of demand from consumers.

In the end the only you cannot stop all unwanted phone calls unless you know all the numbers from which you WANT to be able to receive calls (whitelisting). The Spoofing of Caller ID makes even whitelisting not 100% secure. So perfect call blacking is probably impossible.

However, if BT let international callers show their caller ID and company switchboards were fixed to give out sensible caller IDs, we could all be more confident that effective call filtering, using either gadgets or manually using caller ID displays, is achievable to an extend where is becomes useful. At the moment the risk of missing wanted or even important calls while relying on generic call blockers are just too great for most people.

Therefore, in our house we use good old call screening for any calls without caller ID. We’re relying on anybody who legitimately wants to contact us to leave a message on the answer phone. If we are in, we can always pick up while they leave the message.

avatar

AJ

TrueCall also asks some callers to identify themselves and rings you to see if you want to take the call. You can immediately block calls from anyone you do not wish to speak to again. Other products stop all calls from overseas which can be a problen when you have family in other countries.

avatar

PG

I too bought a TrueCall unit and have had no nuisance call since its instillation. A tad on the expensive side but well worth it as I now do not get the thirty plus nuisance calls a week.

avatar

Jules

Worth mentioning that on the iPhone, with ios7 you also have the facility to block calls from nuisance numbers. I’ve blocked a fair few of those damn PPI pests. If you receive a call from an unwanted source, go into your call history – Tap the i on the right hand side, scroll down to the bottom and tab Block this caller. Voila. No more calls from that number.

avatar

David

I often find that the numbers of some friends or family do not show up on caller-id (the same people’s numbers do show up at other times). I have my answer machine message saying that unknown or witheld numbers will not be answered until they identify themselves after the tone. Junk calls usually just give up before the tone, but they will still have been charged for it. If it is important the caller will speak after the tone, and I can then pick up the call.

avatar

Sue

The thing is, why should I have to fork out money at all, to stop calls that I shouldn’t even be receiving? Unfortunately I don’t have enough disposable income to be able to try something like this, no matter how good they may be, so I’m stuck with the calls.

avatar

Pam

My Panasonic phone with answer machine has a call blocking facility. If the display says international or witheld I leave it to the answer machine. Anyone who really wants to speak to me will speak or leave a message. My friends abroad know this. If the display shows a number I answer it, and if it is spam I transfer the number to the call blocking, so yhey can’t get through again. This has cut down calls without the need for an expensive extra gadget.

avatar

David

We have an older Panasonic system with no call blocking facility, but with a recorded message on it. We get calls on most days, often 2 or 3 calls a day, which are “International, out of area”. If answered, it is someone with a strong Indian accent, saying that there is a fault with my computer (which is untrue) and offering to put it right. We do not answer these calls, and if it is one of these callers, they ring off after a few seconds of the recorded message. However, we have friends overseas to whom we do wish to speak, and who also come up with the same display message. We have explained our tactics to them, and told them to listen to the whole of the recorded message and then speak. When we recognise their name or voice, we answer them. However, this does nothing to block the ‘Indian’ calls, and there is no way of tracing their phone number.

avatar

Jill

I bought the True Call device , quite pricy BUT in the last six months it has intercepted 196 callers who have hung up during screening. I have also zapped numerous callers who now get a message if they try and call again. The online log is fantastic as you can check those who called and either zap them if you never want to hear from them or star them if you want them to get through. It is a wonderful piece of kit and I would not be without it now.
I got it after I had got some really aggressive marketing calls including a repeat offender who told me he would call and call and call until I listened to him and another who told Me to Fugoff when I told him I was not going to listen to him. This all while being registered with TPS which was useless.

avatar

Clare

I got the same system for the same reason. Peace at last.

avatar

Anne

I wanted to block a particular number from a constant nuisance caller. As a Virgin subscriber I found that Virgin do not offer that service – unlike BT.
Poor show Virgin.

avatar

Philip Cooter

The CPR Call Blocker requires Caller ID. I bought one from Maplin (£39.99). On reading the box graphics in the small print I saw this requirement so I returned it. However,Virgin does do Caller ID at a cost of £2.25 per month and this has been added to my phone package.
Net result is that I have ordered another CPR Call Blocker – in the meantime, Caller ID allows me to disregard calls from withheld or 0800 numbers – six today alone.

avatar

MB

For a peaceful life, with a telephone, try not answering any calls in ‘real time’, invest in an answer machine or service, cold callers who leave an automated message can be deleted within seconds, pay for ‘free calls’ with your subscription to the ‘phone line, and live in peace. Your friends and family will know that you’ll get back to them straight away. And … tick the box on the electoral role at the Council, so they can’t sell your name and address to others, who look you up in the ‘phone book.
Nuisance text, on the other hand, are a different matter!

avatar

jackdaww

i just leave my panasonic answering machine on – and then dont answer any calls.

many scam calls just stop before leaving any message .

the rest i just delete.

if genuine callers speak i pick up the phone .

avatar

Figgis

Although the Tue Call device is expensive it seems that it may be worth the extra money. By allowing the welcome calls through and screening the remainder it should reduce nuisance calls dramatically. I presume you can use the on line log to present to the Telephone Preference Service as details of the nuisance calls received.

If you have an elderly friend or relative who is being harassed by nuisance calls, perhaps you should think of treating them to this for Christmas/Birthday, if you can afford it. Elderly people are not as equipped to deal with caller id and check phone screens before answering. This gadget seems the best of the three mentioned above. I know we should not have to pay to avoid nuisance and scam calls but if you are a vulnerable person you may have to suffer a good while longer before TPS, Oftcom, Which, DCMS are able to stop them.

BT, as the main telephone provider to elderly people, are repaying their loyalty by starting charging for Caller ID. Also by flogging their telephone device, which need Caller ID to work, they are cashing in on their customers misery.

avatar

Clare

I think Truecall now have a special unit for vulnerable elderly relatives.

avatar

Jill

This is copied directly from the True Call online pages . What an excellent idea.

Rotary Club in Fife funds trueCall units for older residents
Graeme bought a trueCall unit to protect his mother from unwanted calls – it worked a treat and made a big difference to her. He told his friends at the local Rotary Club and they have now bought 10 trueCall units and have put a programme in place to protect older and vulnerable residents in the Fife area. Graeme is doing all the installations and asks only for a contribution towards the cost of the unit so that they can buy more and keep the programme running. We are delighted to provide trueCall units at a special price to support this initiative. If you think that something similar could be run in your own area then please send us an email – Graeme is very happy to share his experiences.

avatar

Geoff

Brilliant well done.

avatar

Bob

BT and other telecoms providers make money from these calls. They should be the one paying the bill to block them.

avatar

Figgis

During a Parliamentary hearing on Nuisance calls, the BT witness brought up the existence of their Nuisance Calls phone and some of the MP’s were interested in it as they said they never answered their own landline and let all calls go to answer phone – something elderly people will not do. Thankfully, another MP pointed out that the victims of such calls should not have to pay extra to not receive them. One of the other witnesses mentioned that True Call had tried to interest BT and Talk Talk in a system very like what has been described above but neither of them were interested. Both the BT and TT witnesses said they were unaware of any approach to them by True Call on a system to block nuisance calls.

avatar

dipsofjazz

I receive many nuisance calls every day. I now leave my answer machine on and only answer if someone I know talks. I find this a great help, as many of the nuisance calls I receive are the silent ones.
The phone companies should be doing a lot more to stop this problem.

avatar

Mike_b_p

We bought the BT6510 which is more flexible than appears at first sight. Apart from blocking withheld and international numbers it also has a ‘do not disturb’ feature which blocks all calls other than those you have marked as ‘VIPs’ in your contacts list. You can do this for individual numbers or all numbers in your contacts list so you can block all numbers other than those you know if you wish. All blocked calls are diverted to the answer machine and we find this ‘positive vetting’ approach less intrusive than maintaining long lists of rogue numbers. Unlike older BT phones the 6510 automatically propagates the contacts list across all your handsets (4 in our case) so it is relatively easy to maintain.

avatar

DT

I tend to find that these nuisance calls go in “waves” – some weeks I’ll get three or four a day, and then nothing for a few weeks.
I work long hours and am out of my house for most of the “normal working” day so I don’t tend to get many calls directly – usually just the tell-tale ‘click’ on the message on 1571.
If I do get a call, and I’m at a loose end, I’ll often string the individual along, as the only way you can get your own back is to waste their time – time is after all money or an opportunity cost! It’s not often that they call you again…

avatar

Paul

We bought the TrueCall equipment for ourselves and found it worked well. The cold callers hang up as soon as they hear the screening message, yet all our friends and family get through straight away including relatives who live in Spain. We were so pleased with it we got the TrueCall Care version for my elderly Father who had been receiving these nuisance calls which he found confusing and upsetting. We can manage his caller list remotely online and anyone who is not on the list gets a message to ring us. If they are a genuine caller we can pass on a message or add them to his caller list.
Both ourselves and my father now do not receive nuisance calls so the investment was worth every penny.

avatar

Shugg

I bought the CPR device after I ran out of space on the number blocker included in my Panasonic phone. It does work very well, but if you opt to block Witheld/Private numbers, then anything from a switchboard will be blocked. Bit of a drawback, but it really does stop virtually every other number. Tried phoning from my mobile, then blocked it. Didn’t get through after that, until I unblocked it againb. What happens is that it rings briefly at the callers end and the lights on the front of the device flicker, so if you are near your phone you can tell if a call was attempted.

What would be useful is a way to access a list of attempted calls, as you can only take it on trust that it’s working and don’t know if legitimate calls have been blocked.

avatar

Jill

With the True Call you can check at any time by doing a web link to see who has tried to contact you, they also have a great link that tells you where the number originated and who it was or you can go to Tellows to see if the number was legitimate or a telepest.

avatar

Henry

Hi. I have the CPR 106 and when the attempted call is blocked it still registers on the screen of my phone (BT Inspire DECT) as a missed call. So whereas the phone doesn’t ring the phone display lights up for a second and then cuts the call off, and leaves a record of the call on the display. So if you’re keen to see how effective the unit is then that should give a clue. Happen it might not work on all phones. cheers.

avatar

david

old style answering machine works ok with caller displays and the monitor volume on it takes the call
wastes there time and if you want to but in you can also if you do talk to them you are stopping them
wasting someone ellses time

avatar

john

I get many unwanted calls but don’t need to pay to stop them. The answere is simple I let my answere phone take the call, if it is a genuine caller I pick up the phone. all scam callers just hang up when it’s an answere phone. This is gradually decreasing the amount of calls I get. If I feel in the mood I just answere and quickly say ‘ sorry I am busy could you call back in a month ‘ works a treat.

avatar

Anne

Nobody seems to have had the problem I have experienced: A (probably mentally disturbed) lady rings me every day between 10 and 15 times, day and night, AND leaves a message each time if I ignore the call, so my voicemail box gets full. Luckily I can see the number she is ringing from. Having reported it to the police, who seem unable to deal with it, I have now decided to fork out on a call blocker. [How she got my number is a mystery to me. She thinks it's her daughter's number].

avatar

john

I used to have this problem with an ex client, even called at 2 or 3 am. The only answer I found for this was to change my phone No. Not very practical when you are advertising for clients.
Now though if you are with BT they will block this caller. The police actually should have contacted your phone company and did this for you.

avatar

Anne

Yes I was told about BT service, but unfortunately I am with Virgin, and they don’t offer it at all. Police did visit the Virgin web site, but in the end just sent me an advert for the phone blocker. As you say, changing phone number is problematic. Thank God for the phone blocker (assuming it will work). This woman just keeps ringing.

avatar

Figgis

Anne

The BT witness at the Parliamentary hearing on Nuisance Calls made a point of stating that they set up a Nuisance Call ‘Bureau’ many years ago to deal with the original type of harassment calls. This is still in existence and customers of other providers were welcome to call them. In fact he made it sound as if it is a service they provide for everyone. This would seem the best and cheapest option as you know the number that is causing a nuisance.

Good luck

avatar

Terry

Don`t waste money on BT call blocking phones, they may work if you`re on a BT line but if you are on Sky they are as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike and don`t block any nuisance calls at all.

avatar

Jennifer

Late December 2013 I was cold called and persuaded to buy a Silverlining cps. The following day I was called by the same company for confirmation of various details and informed £90+ would be taken from my account. The device was delivered and registered for start of service 19/12/2013.
When my grandaughter came home from University she set it up for me. I couldn’t comes to terms with it and worried calls from my daughter in Australia would be blocked. After Christmas I phoned the company on their customer service number 0844 567 0505. The girl who spoke to me said there would be no problem returning the device but as they had had a burgulary and the place was swarming with police and their dogs and could not continue with the conversation. I phoned again after a couple of days on the same number and got no reply. After the third attempt I decided to return the goods as I was going on holiday 2nd January, sent back by Recorded delivery. When I returned home no information whatsoever. After trying customer service on numerous occasions and getting no reply, tried the sales number (0845 459 4699) only to be told the package had been received on 9th January 2014 and was out of the return by date.
I did say I had done my best to return the goods and being a pensioner could not afford
to lose that amount of money. Trying to appease me I was told by the salesgirl she
would speak to the Finance team and call me back that afternoon, nothing. I have tried on numerous occasions since then and being told a text message would be sent to the mobile
number!!!! to return my call. Nothing! I feel as though I have been taken for a ride. If I could speak to them I would ask for the goods to be returned to me as I still do own it. Please give me some advice. I have contacted Citizens Advice Bureau with no joy as my post code is out of their region. Being a WI member perhaps a little adverse publicity would help, and have my experience splashed all over their National Magazine.

avatar

Rewarf

Brought the CPR Call. Blocker v.106 for my 87 year old mother, but with BT she needs to sign up for Caller ID, which they want to charge her a monthly charge, this wasn’t mentioned in your article, so in effect this adds £21 pounds a year to a pensioners phone bill! which wasn’t stated in your article..with out caller ID the CPR Call Blocker blocks ALL calls. I think this should have been covered in your article.

avatar

Richard Hegerty

Does anyone know anything about the Cold Call Elimation Team (0800 779 7788)?

Back to top

Post a Comment

Commenting guidelines

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked

Tired of typing your name and email? Why not register.

Register or Log in