How to stop unwanted telephone calls in the UK

This might be of interest to anyone bothered by unwanted phone calls:-

Firstly, BT have a well-kept secret called "Anonymous Call Rejection". You can get the exchange to reject ALL calls from "withheld" numbers by phoning BT and asking for "ACR to be implemented". I think it costs £9.99 per quarter but that's a small price for peace of mind. Why is it a secret? Well of course BT don't WANT you to reject calls because then the caller doesn't pay BT for the call! But European legislation forced BT to make the service available. They just didn't force BT to advertise or publish it. But now you know!

So, with ACR you will never get another "withheld" call. Your phone won't even ring. Instead, the caller hears a message telling him "please unblock your number if you wish to ring this person".

By the way, if anyone with an ex-directory number tries to ring you, the same thing will happen. The way to circumvent this is to tell your ex-directory friends to dial 1470 before your number. They can program this into their phone to make it easier. Adding 1470 forces the exchange to divulge their phone number so it is no longer "withheld" (but only for that one call).

A similar service is available for people connected via other British operators including Hull Telecom.

Secondly, you can buy a little gadget called a "Caller Display". You plug your phone into it and plug it into your phone socket. Fit the batteries then phone BT and ask them to give you "Caller I.D." This costs a few pounds a quarter.

The Display unit will show you the number of the person calling. You'll recognise your friends' numbers and you can answer or ignore the rest.

Alternatively, you can buy a telephone that has the display bult-in. But you still have to pay BT the quarterly fee to make it work unless you pay for your line 12 months in advance.

Thirdly, you can register (free) with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) by dialling this number: (0845) 0700707. I think it's an answerphone system - you don't talk to a human being. Just give your details clearly and hang up. You'll receive confirmation by post, plus a form to fill in if you ever receive an unwanted marketing call. Anyone you report in this way is liable to a fine of up to £5000. It sounds good but, in practice, it's a hassle and not very effective.

You can also stop unwanted faxes in the same way by dialling this number: (0845) 0700702

I think you can also register mobile phones but I don't bother. If I get an unwanted call I just shout "Hello? Hello? Heck, the signal's bad here!" and switch the phone off!

I bought a "PhoneValet" from Parliant for my Apple Mac. It's like a tiny modem. I connected it from my phone socket to my computer USB socket. With Caller ID enabled, the computer will display the number of the caller on-screen (or the name if you've programmed it and it will also speak it). It will also speak a recorded message (or a typed message) to the caller, dependent on his number, after a preset number of rings.

You can set it so that for "International", "Withheld", "Unavailable" or specific numbers, the computer will answer immediately (no rings), play a message then hang up. It's absolutely brilliant for nuisance calls and has reduced my blood pressure enormously. In addition, it will dial any preset number for you automatically with a click of the mouse. It will record messages or conversations, manually or automatically (and email them to you if you wish). (No longer selling this item.)

Finally, if you don't like to give your home address out, you can rent a PO BOX number from Royal Mail for £52 a year. This would mean that you'd have to visit your local delivery office to collect your mail. In practice, your postman will probably deliver it anyway if you ask nicely (and give a tip). If not, then you can pay an additional £52 to have your PO Box mail delivered each day. *Anyone* can use this service. It's not just for businesses.

It does, however, discriminate against poor people!

Hope you find these notes helpful.

July 20, 2008

Lately (2015), a new solution has appeared in the form of the BT8500 telephone which screens calls before it even rings. More info HERE or do a search for it.

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