Click here to listen to How to Avoid Cold Callers podcast

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We all get unwanted cold calls and they can be very annoying and in some cases lead to fraud and loss of money.

Many are harmless and just waste your time and may lead to more unwanted phone calls.

Here are some actions that will help you to avoid cold callers

A.     The Telephone Preference Service

This service is provided by the government and lets you register your phone number. Once registered it is illegal for cold callers to call your number (legally, telemarketers must not to call a TPS subscribed number after 28 days. Registration is free and only takes 2 minutes.  The service was setup because there are so many cold callers from companies about PPI, Accident Claims, Overseas Scams plus Spam SMS and other nuisance calls.

TPS is for the public at their residential address and sole traders but not businesses.  There is also a separate corporate telephone preference service for companies to register their phone numbers to prevent cold callers.

B. The Magic Phone Number

When buying something online or registering online there is usually a form to fill in of your details and quite often this insists on your telephone number even though you know it’s not needed.

This is annoying, plus you wonder what they will do with your phone number. Will they sell it or give it to third parties, resulting in phone calls you don’t want?

As the forms usually check the number is in the correct format, you need a real phone number to input.

You can use 0333 88 88 88 88 (the last 8 doesn’t matter if the form only allows 11 digits).   

When, they call, those cold callers will hear a short recorded message:-

"trueCall38 is handling my calls. I prefer not to be contacted by phone, so please contact me via my email address.  Goodbye!"

Problem solved.

But why do companies ask for your phone number? 
They rarely really need it, and you don't know what they are going to do with it. Interestingly, experts say that asking for a phone number can reduce the number of people who complete an online form by 25%. That’s a big loss.

If you don’t want someone to have your phone number – tell them 0333 88 88 88 88

C.      Check Who Called You  

If you’re getting cold calls and want to know who they are from then this website may have the answer.   You type in the phone number and see who it is. It doesn’t always work, as they don’t have all the numbers  used by cold callers.

The website also lists recent numbers people checked up on and lists some recent scams you should be aware of.

Many cold callers block their ID so you can’t know the number they are calling from, but if you have the type of phone that lets you block callers – then block all calls where the caller ID is withheld.  Or alternatively, a simple remedy to caller withheld is just don’t answer the call. 

There are other websites that also let you do reverse telephone number lookups, such as

So, if you want to know who’s calling you and they wont say – then try one of these websites.

D.     Stop Cold Callers by Threatening Legal Action


Remember, they called you uninvited – there is no need to be polite. These people can be the bane of your life with repeated calls.

Refer them to non-existent legislation that they may be breaking. Anything that doesn’t follow their script is disconcerting to a cold caller and an authoritative voice warning them of law breaking should stop them immediately.

For example,

My number is registered with the telephone preference service. By calling me you are breaking section 117 of the Telecommunications Act 2012. You are personally liable to a fine of up to £5,000 for a first offence or imprisonment for further offences. I suggest you get your bags packed.


This is not true of course – it is just intended to stop the cold caller from pestering you.

E.     General Advice on Dealing With Telephone Cold Callers -


 Some people enjoy being very rude to such callers to get rid of them, some are more polite but end the conversation quickly. However, many keep talking; either not understanding that it’s a bad idea to talk to such callers and a waste of your time or are just too polite to end the conversation.

A more efficient approach is to be direct.

They will try to engage you in conversation “How are you today”? or a similar question.

Do not engage.  If asked your name or to confirm your name – Do not engage.

Ask “What do you want”?

If not answered, then repeat the question until you get an answer or just put the phone down.

Once answered, you have the choice to continue the conversation or end the call.

End the call with “Goodbye and don’t ever call again” and put the phone down.

If you have a more effective approach then do let us email.

Click here to listen to How to Stop Spam Letters podcast

If you want to stop spam letters coming through your letterbox there is a series of actions you can take.

1. Register with the Mailing Preference Service  (

Register with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) - this will stop advertising material that’s addressed to you personally.

You can register online at the MPS website, or you can contact them by phone or email.

It can take several months for the service to fully take effect. 

2. Register with Royal Mail Opt Out Scheme for Junk Mail Deliveries

You can tell Royal Mail to stop to delivering junk mail to your address.

Go to the website and search on 'opt out' as you need to download this form. 

Fill it in and send it to the address on the form and that will stop Royal Mail adding to the piles of junk mail you receive – at least for 2 years then you have to re-register.

3. Contact your electoral registration office

You can search for your local electoral registration office on GOV.UK.

Ask them to take your details off the ‘open register’  which is a list of people and addresses that is bought by Marketing companies to create mailing lists. 

You can choose for your details not to be added to the edited electoral register when you fill out an electoral registration form. Tick the box that says “opt out” of the open register.

4. Return to sender

If you get junk mail with a return address on the envelope, you should:

Write “unsolicited mail, return to sender” on the envelope and post it (you don't have to pay as long as the item has not been opened)

This won’t guarantee that you won’t get any more junk mail, but it’s a way of letting the company know that you don’t want any more mail.

5. Get or make a notice for your front door

The sign can say ‘”No Junk Mail” or “No Unaddressed Mail” or something similar.

You can get these notices online or make your own.

These steps won't guarantee no unwanted mail but should make a significant reduction in the unwanted mail you receive.

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Click here to listen to Have Fun With Cold Callers podcast


There are lots of ways you can have fun with those annoying cold callers. Here are some tried and tested methods. Enjoy.

A.     Annoy Cold Callers By Wasting Their Time


There’s lots of ways you can waste their time

·         Pretend you can’t hear very well and make them repeat each statement several times

·         Pretend to be stupid and misunderstand everything they say

·         Repeat back to them each thing they say

·         Ask their opinion on any soap opera or reality TV series that you watch then regale them with how wonderful the programme is

·         Pretend to cry – tell them you’ve broken up with your true love and are heart broken (good for any budding actors) and pour out any anger you’re feeling.

·         Pretend you know the caller and invent a whole back story for last time you saw them and refuse to accept that they don’t know you


Any of these tricks are likely to have the caller put down the phone but it depends how well you play your part. So enjoy yourself, be creative and waste their time.


B.     Annoy Cold Callers by Being Friendly and Questioning 

For example:-

Caller: Hello. Is that Mr. …..

Me: What do you want? (in a bored ‘heard it all before’ tone of voice)

Caller: My name is Natasha and I’m calling from Lifestyle Choices. I would just like you to help me please with answers to a few questions. It will only take 2 minutes.

Me: (now sounding friendly) So, you’re Natasha and you’re from Lifestyle Choices.  Do you do a lot of surveys Natasha?

Caller: If you could just answer a few questions Sir.

Me: Natasha, Do you work for Lifestyle Choices or are you just contracted to them?

Caller: I work for Lifestyle Choices. If you could answer a few questions Sir.

Me: So, Lifestyle Choices – what do they do.

Caller: Can you answer some questions please Sir.

Me: Of course, after you answer my questions. Now, where was I. Oh Yes, I remember. You were going to tell me about Lifestyle Choices.

Natasha disconnects.

Good riddance to another cold caller.


C.     Confuse the Cold Caller

Cold callers have a script to follow – a set of questions and expected answers.

If you behave unexpectedly – they don’t know what to do and will often give up i.e. put the phone down.

There are endless things you can do to confuse them, such as

1.       Keep a take-away menu by the phone and start reading it out – place an order and ignore anything they say – just keep reading it out. E.g. I’d like to order 3 spring rolls followed by the Peking Duck with egg fried rice and 2 portions of crispy noodles and some of that seaweed stuff . Plus … and so on.

2.       Say ‘I don’t speak English’ to whatever they ask until they put the phone down.

3.       Invent your own religion and try hard to convert them. I’m glad you called today as I have the good news of the 3rd coming of Quixacoatl to tell you about. Now, Quixacoatl created the earth in 5 minutes and he’s due back tomorrow to collect all of the believers. And so on.

4.       Say Thank you for calling the PPI hotline – we can get your thousands of pounds back. I just need you name, address and bank details first. You’ll hear the phone slam down  

Any unexpected behaviour will do the trick – so confuse them.


D.    Annoy Cold Callers By Making Noise

Some people keep a whistle by your phone so when they get a cold caller –they give them a quick blast.

Some people keep a radio near the phone so they can switch on a noisy station, put the phone by the radio and leave it.

If you can do animal impressions – then why not bark loudly or grunt loudly.

You could record a brass band or some other noisy music and play it when the cold caller phones

You could shout “Sorry . I’m a bit deaf, Can you repeat that”

Alternatively, stand back from the phone and have a good scream – that should send them running and will make you feel better.


E.     Annoy Cold Callers By Being An Answer Machine

Answer the phone like this:-

All of our operators are busy.

If you would like to leave a message that no-one will listen to then press 1 now

If you would like someone to call you back – fat chance of that, then press 2 now

If you would like to waste more of your time then press 3 now repeatedly.

And so on.


They always put the phone down quickly

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