Nuisance calls come in all manner of guises.
There are unscrupulous salesmen, automated voices claiming you are owed compensation and plausible fraudsters hoping to con you out of your savings.
According to the latest figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office, there was a 20 per cent increase in complaints about nuisance calls last year.
Phone rage: According to the latest figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office, there was a 20 per cent increase in complaints about nuisance calls last year
It received 92,426 reports between January and September 2019, compared with 77,092 the year before.
However, with all major telecoms firms offering a range of free call-blocking and screening services, there are easy ways to stop cold callers getting through.
Here, Money Mail explains what is on offer and where…
Dial 1572 to bar numbers
All landline customers can use BT’s free Call Protect service, which has diverted more than 300 million calls since it was launched three years ago.
As part of this, you have access to the magic 1572 number, which allows you to block the last number that called.
After dialling 1572, press one and follow the instructions. You can also block withheld numbers this way.
The only loophole is when fraudsters ‘spoof’ their number to look as though it belongs to a legitimate business, such as your bank. If you block these numbers, you will also stop any genuine calls.
The service will also automatically identify any likely spam numbers and add them to a blacklist. Any calls from numbers on this list will be diverted to a junk voicemail, which customers can check now and then if they choose.
You can also add up to 100 nuisance numbers to your own personal blacklist.
Set up Call Protect online or by calling BT customer service on 0800 800 150.
Customers with Plusnet can sign up to its free Call Protect service, which is very similar to BT’s offering.
Known nuisance callers are automatically blocked and diverted to your junk voicemail, and customers can create personal lists of up to 100 barred numbers.
Certain types of call can also be diverted to your junk voicemail, such as those from international, withheld and unavailable numbers. However, you can then add 50 numbers to a VIP list so any friends or relatives living abroad can still get through.
To access the service, log into Plusnet’s online member centre, go to the Home Phone Control panel and select Plusnet Call Protect from the list. When you get an unwanted call, hang up, dial 1572 and follow the instructions.
The service may not be available in certain remote areas of the UK, such as the Outer Hebrides. Call customer service on 0800 432 0200 to get it switched on.
Talk Shield is a free ‘personalised call screening service’ that is available to all Sky broadband and landline customers.
It automatically prevents ‘robots’ or automated calls getting through and allows customers to add specific nuisance numbers to their own block list.
Each caller is also asked to identify themself, so when you pick up the phone you will hear a recording of their name.
You can then choose to add the number to an approved or ‘star’ list by pressing the * button while they are on the phone, or dialling 1781 afterwards. Alternatively, you can press # to bar a number or call 1783 to add the last number to your block list.
The block and approved lists comnbined can have up to 1,000 numbers and can be managed through an online account or by phone.
You can set up Talk Shield by logging into your online account and clicking Sky Talk Shield, then ‘activate’. Alternatively, call 0333 7592 673.
If you already have Sky’s Anonymous Caller Reject or Last Caller Barring features, they will be removed from your account when you add Talk Shield.
Landline customers can screen incoming calls with TalkTalk’s free CallSafe service, which stops 11 million nuisance callers getting through a month. Previously approved numbers, friends, family and frequently used numbers (dialled more than once in 35 days) will be put through automatically.
But callers from withheld or unknown numbers must confirm who they are. After listening to their message, you can choose whether to accept or reject the call.
You can also block numbers using another free service, Last Caller Barring, which you can add via your online account.
To block or approve a number, press 1 or 3 respectively while on the line or dial 1472 afterwards — you can do this for withheld numbers, too.
Switch on CallSafe by dialling 1472 from your TalkTalk landline, then press 1. TalkTalk also works to block suspicious calls for everyone, such as known spoofed numbers.
All Virgin Media home phone customers are provided with a free caller display feature.
This shows the number being used by callers, so you can avoid picking up if you don’t recognise it.
Virgin does not allow customers to block suspicious numbers calling again.
But you can block withheld numbers by signing up to its Anonymous Caller Rejection service: call 150 from your Virgin home phone or mobile, or 0345 454 1111 from another line.
Customers who have transferred their phone number to Virgin from another provider can request it is made ex-directory.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.