Live marketing calls (cold-calling and sales calls)
If someone rings you trying to sell you something, this is known as a live marketing call.
They might be cold-calling you from an organisation you’ve had no dealings with, trying to sell a product or service such as double glazing or home energy services.
Alternatively, they might be from a company you deal with regularly, for example a garage reminding you that your car is due for its MOT, or your mobile phone provider encouraging you to upgrade your current deal.
Although companies and organisations are allowed to make live marketing calls, they cannot call you if you have:
- told them previously that you don’t want to receive calls from them; or
- registered your number with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS).
The law makes a distinction between live calls (where there is a person on the line) and recorded message calls.
If your problem relates to recorded message marketing calls, click here.
You can stop live marketing calls from a particular company by telling them not to call you. When you receive an unwanted marketing call simply ask them to remove your details from their database.
We also recommend notifying the organisation in writing that you no longer wish to be called.
When an organisation makes a live marketing call to you, the calling agent must supply you with the name of the organisation and, if you ask for it, the address of the organisation or a free telephone number. You can use this information to notify the organisation that you no longer wish to receive live marketing calls.
You can notify the organisation by telephone, email or letter, although we recommend you do it in writing and keep a copy of any correspondence.
Once you have notified the company, they should not make any live marketing calls to the number(s) you have given them.
In addition, you can register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The TPS is a free service that allows consumers to record their preference not to receive any unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
Although other commercial organisations purport to offer a similar service, the TPS list is the only official register for opting out of marketing calls as it is the only one created and supported by legislation.
Once registered with the TPS, the number(s) provided by you is added to an official list of numbers that all UK organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) are prohibited from calling for sales and marketing purposes.
TPS can be used for both landline and mobile telephone numbers, although registration with TPS will only prevent you receiving marketing voice calls. It is not designed to prevent marketing texts.
An equivalent service, the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS), is available for corporate bodies.
For more information about the TPS, the CTPS, or to register for either of these services, call 0845 070 0707 or visit their website.
No. A TPS ban only applies to live marketing calls, but registering with the TPS might reduce other call types such as recorded message marketing calls and silent calls. It is, however, unlikely to stop scam calls
Find out more about scam calls
Companies can also contact you to carry out market research even if you’re registered with the TPS, although these calls must not be combined with any marketing.
Your complaint can provide real benefits, both for you as an individual and for consumers generally.
This is because complaints play a vital role in helping regulators tackle the companies responsible for nuisance calls and messages.
Without your complaints regulators would find it much harder to indentify and take action against those responsible.
Making a complaint is simple. You can do it online, by phone or by post, and it can take as little as 5 minutes.
Also, TPS registration does not work if you have previously given a company permission to market to you by phone.
You may have done this without even realising. For example, some forms include a tick box which allows you to opt-in, or in some cases opt-out, of direct marketing by that organisation.
By opting-in (or not opting-out) you may inadvertently have agreed to receive sales and marketing calls, even though your number is registered with the TPS.
If you believe you may have done this, don’t worry.
You can withdraw your consent by simply contacting the organisation in question and informing them that you do not wish to be called for marketing purposes. It is best to do this in writing, keeping a copy of any correspondence.
Sometimes when you ring up a company with an enquiry, or asking for a quote, you will be played an announcement informing you that you will be automatically opted-in to receive future marketing calls. You can prevent this by informing the operator who answers your call to remove this opt-in.
When you register your number(s) with the TPS/CTPS it takes 28 days for a ban to come into effect
If you are still getting calls after 28 days, you can complain to the TPS using the link at the bottom of this page or by ringing 0845 070 0707.
The TPS will contact the company in question asking for an explanation and requesting that it removes the number from its call lists.
It also sends details of the complaints it receives to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The ICO has powers to investigate and take action against any firm making marketing calls to consumers or corporate bodies registered with the TPS or CTPS.
You can also complain directly to the ICO using the link at the bottom of this page.
If you have not already done so, you should register with the TPS.
You can also complain directly to the ICO using the link below, as the organisation calling you after you informed them not to is in breach of the rules in this area.
Overseas companies who call on behalf of UK-based organisations must comply with UK law.
This means that they must screen their call lists against the TPS register before making unsolicited sales and marketing calls.
If you are receiving unwanted calls from abroad on behalf of a UK-based company, register with the TPS.
If you have already registered, complain to the TPS or the ICO using the links at the bottom of this page.
Unfortunately, some companies base themselves overseas to avoid UK rules and do not make use of the TPS register. If you are receiving unsolicited marketing calls which you believe to be from overseas companies you should still contact the ICO as they may be able to help you.
Always be wary of unsolicited sales and marketing calls from overseas, especially if they ask you to send them money or are using a premium-rate phone number (numbers beginning with 09).
Complain to the TPS
Alternatively you can ring the TPS on 0845 070 0707
Alternatively you can ring 0303 123 1113
When making a complaint, try to provide as much information as you can, including if possible:
- the organisation which made the call;
- the date and time of the call;
- the telephone number that made the call; and
- the nature of the sales/marketing that occurred during the call.
Even if you don’t know who called you the ICO is still interested in hearing about your experience.
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