Six ways tech can stop nuisance calls

Nuisance calls

Nuisance calls can be a daily irritant that are hard to shake. Luckily, tech can save the day, with plenty of options available to make sure your phone only rings when there’s someone you want to talk to on the other end of the line.

We look at six features available on phones and call blockers, or through your service provider, that can help curb nuisance calls and give you back some peace.

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How to curb nuisance calls

Last caller barring – Perhaps unsurprisingly, this feature blocks the number of the last person to call you. It’s useful if you take a call from a salesperson or other nuisance caller, and know from that first conversation that you’ll never want to speak to them again. Once selected, the caller will hear a busy tone the next time they call. Of course, they have to call you at least once before you can block them.

Last caller barring is available on some phones, as well as via your phone provider or through most call blockers.

Anonymous call blocking – Lots of nuisance calls come from anonymous numbers, so this feature will nip such unsolicited callers in the bud by simply not allowing any of these types of calls through. It can be extremely effective, but it’s worth remembering that plenty of legitimate companies and organisations – like banks and the NHS – can also show up as ‘anonymous’ so you may miss out on an important call.

Anonymous call blocking is available on some phones, as well as via your phone provider or through most call blockers.

Individual number blocking – If you don’t want to blanket block numbers, but just deal with individual persistent pests, most phones, devices and services will give you the option to block certain numbers. How many depends on how you go about it – services tend to only let you block a small number (around ten), while call blocking devices give you a lot more options.

Individual number blocking is available on some phones, as well as via your phone provider or through most call blockers.

Spam text messages

Direct spam texts to 7726 to report them to your mobile provider.

Spam text reporting – As if nuisance calls weren’t annoying enough, some time wasters will also elect to bombard your mobile phone with text messages. Deleting them is never more than a touch of the screen away, but if you want to be a bit more proactive it’s also worth reporting spam texts by forwarding them to 7726, or 87726 if you’re with Vodafone, and following the instructions forwarded by your mobile provider.

International call blocking – If most of your calls from abroad are from a man in Mumbai trying to offer you an upgrade on your broadband, then you might be tempted by the option to block international calls. Only UK-based phone numbers will be able to get through to you, although the trueCall call blocker will also let any friends or relatives abroad enter a special code to bypass the block.

International call blocking is available on some phones or through most call blockers.

Call screening – Many people use their answering machine to screen their calls but the TrueCall call blocker offers a more sophisticated option. It asks the caller to state their name and business before putting them through – most won’t bother, choosing to hang up and try someone else instead. Legitimate callers will be happy to give their details, at which point your phone will ring, a recording of their answer will be played, and you can choose to accept or reject the call.

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36 replies

  1. I use the answerphone & caller ID to decide what to answer – can be mildly amusing when an automated call meets the answerphone.

  2. I ask them to speak and tell the caller that I will pick up the phone if I recognise their voice.
    If it’s a call from bank etc. they always say and pick up anyway.

  3. I always say she’s not at home, can I take a message. They ask if I’m a family member & I say No! Otherwise I let the call go to answer phone, you never get a message then I know it’s just not a proper call.

  4. I save these numbers to the end of my phone’s directory either under a name beginning with Z (or just the letter Z), so each goes to the end of the directory list and do not interfere with the main listing. Next time they call I see the Z and ignore the call.

    Yesterday I had a run of these and ghost calls and in the evening someone called asking if I was receiving a lot of nuisance calls. They claimed they had the solution but it was a rather suspicious coincidence..

    1. On Tuesday 24 June a elderly (93) friend of mine also received a call from a male caller who said his name was Andy, although he did not sound English. He asked if my friend if they had been receiving unwanted calls, (who hasn’t), when this was confirmed he said he could stop them but it would cost £58.00 and gave an 08 number to call. When my friend declined the offer, he attempted to obtain her bank details.
      I checked the incoming call number and it began with 008. I believe numbers beginning with 00 are from overseas. This was obviously a scam.

  5. We receive calls twice a day (!) from a call center in San Antonio Texas – 0012102490540. This is not a nuisance. It is harassment.
    The TPS is useless. We have been registered with them for over 15 years and still get UK calls. I had a long chat with the TPS years ago and was told all the ways firms use to get around ‘the law’. So the TPS admitted then that the law was useless. The latest changes, yet to be implemented, are a waste of time. UK companies get set up and closed down to avoid the government regulations. Foreign call centers are used to bypass UK law. Simple solution? Unlimited fines of any UK person/firm/director involved, including companies which pay other companies to do the dirty work. Make the call illegal unless the telephone number is registered annually by the owner to receive unsolicited calls – who would? Have extradition treaties with other countries for the criminal offense. Any any country failing to have reciprocal agreements – all calls to go through a manual UK operator before connection.

    Why do we have to tolerate this?


  6. I get calls with a hidden number from an automated service but yesterday, someone who knew my name, asked me to confirm it, then hung up! It’s been quiet since.

    I have the silence/nighttime mode activated, allowing only family calls through. We did this because some senile sounding, old lady kept ringing in the night and asking for her son, despite my telling her many times, that she had the wrong number. This is definitely a useful feature on our Panasonic phone.

  7. The nuisance call are annoying and although ime registered TPS I still get calls. Ive found that my phone has quiet a number of ring tones, so iv’e kept the standard tone for all calls except for people who are in my phone book, and they all have different tones so most of the time I know who is calling before I answer the phone. If not, if it’s importent they will leave a message.Simple.

  8. We doubtless pay through the nose for having a useless TPS, so I’m blowed if I’m going to pay for a call blocking device.
    What we need is stringent legislation to stop harassment from UK centres, and a free service from BT, Virgin, etc, to prevent calls from, eg India- I’ve got no friends there.
    We should all be able to designate countries we don’t want to hear from-as far as I’m concerned it’s only Oz and the US from whom I’m prepared to accept calls.

  9. I always let any suspicious number ring out and then google the number. If the number is identified as a nuisance caller I then put it in my directory under “junk”. Incoming calls from numbers listed in my directory show up as names rather than numbers so when my phone says “junk” I believe it. Problem is I have more junk than I have family and friends!

  10. All nuisance calls on land lines can be dealt with by simply keep pressing the hash key, this cancels your number on the caller data base so they cannot call you again.
    Try it and see, it works for me

    1. Thank you David. I’ve confused myself a bit. I use my procedure on both land line and mobile. I’ll try your hash key wheeze. You presumably keep pressing hash key whilst call is connected. I’ve realised whilst typing that that’s the only way I’m going to influence anything at the caller’s end. Thanks again.

  11. I always answer and tell the caller it must be a mistake as I don´t have a phone or a land line. Lasts 10 seconds! They always hung up, some even say sorry !!!

  12. I agree, TPS is pretty useless. Everything now goes straight to voicemail here, with the OGM saying that we’re so sick of nuisance calls we don’t pick up any more… They don’t seem to get the message but they do hang up.

  13. Unfortunately most of your solutions are impractical simply because Health Services and other Public bodies use “number withheld” features – possibly with good reason but the very least they should be OBLIGED to do is leave a name and brief message with an accessible return number so that you can distinguish them from the nuisance calls.
    If you routinely expect any kind of call from any such organisation on your own behalf or as a carer , you cannot use most of the techniques you describe. Banks and financial institutions are actually the worst. If you are waiting for a call, they always use a number that cannot be called back and all it may mean is that you popped to the loo or out of phone reach.
    The WORST of all are those organisations that call mobiles when you may be abroad so subject to crazy roaming charges. You often HAVE to leave your phone available for emergency calls from relatives and then you get some stupid marketeer on the line trying to flog you insurance.

    1. I couldn’t agree more,my wife is always in and out of hospital and they call and ‘with held’ appears as they call to arrange appointments or another health matter so they cannot be blocked as we could miss something important.

  14. A couple of my more vulnerable friends have their numbers withheld permanently, so I have to answer these calls. Recently the phrase “Number Withheld” started to be used by commercial companies – previously there was a different message.
    I wish the phone company putting the calls through (BT etc) could take some of the responsibility, so we could at least recognise the difference.

  15. In addition to all the usual unsolicited calls I frequently receive calls for either a ‘Mr Digmar’ or a ‘Mrs Griffiths’ neither of whom are associated with this number which I have held for 30 months. I always advise they have the wrong number and should remove it from any list – and still they come!!

  16. I agree with jen.BT should accept major responsibity for opening up our once private home landlines.why should we be the ones trying to find ways to block these calls when we just shouldnt get them in the 1st place.we dont receive any money from BT in payment for allowing BT to flog our numbers to other companies, if I did maybe I wouldnt mind as much!

  17. Often I receive an international call from someone asking if I am’ Mr Hedge’. My reply is that I am not ‘ Mr Hedge’ but that I am Russian and that my name is Vladimir Fukov.

  18. I find that caller id and an answering machine saves me from many conversations that I do not want.
    I work on the principle that if someone really wants to talk to me then they will leave a message. I can cut in if they start to speak. Nuisance callers tend not to leave messages.

  19. I do use an answering machine to intercept calls but that didn’t seem to stop people calling back. So, recently I have been answering and telling unwanted callers the person they are looking for is the previous owner, who has died. Most apologise, then I ask for the name and number to be deleted. I was getting 6-8 calls a day, I am now standing at 2-3. Don’t know if it’s a direct correlation but something has happened :-)

  20. I get calls from annoying foreign baskets calling me about Microsoft I tell them Kali is coming that’s there death God also the same people call me about accidents that i had one recently they make me sick It’s never ending so i will buy one of those phones

  21. I wait for the person to speak and as soon as I hear a voice with an Asian accent I say, “Hello, Leicestershire Police, Murder Incident room, may I have your name, date of birth and address please? Are you a witness or are you confessing? 99% of the time they just put the phone down, but if they answer I press them for their personal details. I have almost eradicated these nuisance calls via this method, but not quite. Another ploy is to say the person they have asked for (usually me) is dead, that I have just returned from the funeral, and they have now upset me. My tip is to play them at their own game and say whatever lie comes into your head, and irritate and confuse them.

  22. I very rarely answer numbers I don’t recognise.. Any people who need or I want to contact me appear as names on my phone. Withheld or international calls never get answered. My caller display is well worth the 99p per month..

    1. I also answer in other language -Welsh….stops them in their tracks….but back they come…i had one asian woman phone me back after i put phone down on her…..wasnt polite after that!!! BT must be at fault

  23. I keep getting calls but when I get up which takes more than I need because of arthritis it takes longer than I wish it to they don’t answer which really takes the biscuit I have several unwanted calls a day I am so stressed I asked my phone provider if they could stop this and they said it would cost I think I pay enough already vergin should find a solution for this free of charge.

  24. I finally got rid of the Indian computer scammers when by pure chance I came across a referee’s whistle-in a drawer next to the phone, of all places.
    Next time they rang I gave them a blast gradually increasing in volume to a crescendo that would have been heard over most of India-never mind their office.
    That was a good few weeks ago. Have they gone for good? I’ll keep you posted.

  25. What we need is a national plan to bombard these people with calls. If millions of calls are made over a period they will get the message. Not the computerised calls but the persons who benefit. Same with call centres. Don’t have to connect just ring a couple of times at a certain period. Trouble is we need to find there numbers.

  26. I purchased a call – blocking phone with answerphone but also retained my old corded phone as cordless phones do not work if there is a power cut. I have set the cordless (call blocking) feature to block all International calls, all withheld numbers and unavailable numbers so that if a blocked category phones, then my old corded phone rings but not the cordless phone. A quick check on caller I.D. means I can afford to ignore all of these “Special, must act now” con artists.

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