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Do you avoid calls from numbers you don’t know?

Posted 12 August 2014

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Do you get anxious when the phone rings and you don’t know the number? Are you afraid that it’s a nuisance call or a call from a lender? If so, our blog has the answers.

When you hear the phone ring do you automatically answer it, or wait a few moments to check whether you know the number? If you’re in the second camp, there are two reasons why this might be. Number one: you don’t know the number and you’re wary of who it may be, so perhaps you’ve had your fair share of nuisance calls in the past and you don’t want to repeat the experience. Or number two: you think you know who it might be and it’s a conversation that you’d prefer not to have. Now, we’re not talking about avoiding the mother-in-law here! We’re referring to being in the situation where you’re unable to pay your debts and don’t want to speak to your lenders. 

 

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Whether you’re avoiding calls because you’re struggling with unmanageable debts, or because you’re afraid it’s a nuisance or a scam call, there are ways to deal with the issue. In this blog we’re going to look at both scenarios, and what you can do to make sure you never have to worry when the phone rings again.

Nuisance calls

If nuisance calls drive you up the wall, you’re not alone. Many people would put nuisance calls on their list of pet hates and for some vulnerable people the problem can be serious. There’s been a lot in the press recently about the amount of unknown, withheld and nuisance calls people up and down the country receive. 

The BBC recently reported that a company called Falcon and Pointer faced a serious investigation after it made 40 million nuisance calls regarding mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance in just three months. This company has since had its license taken away by the Claims Management Regulator. In September 2015, Home, Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd was fined £200,000 after making millions of unwanted and misleading marketing calls through their automated system. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) decided to issue them with this record breaking fine because they believed, in the case of automated calls, a company should always have people’s prior permission. 

In light of this problem, the Government launched an investigation into nuisance calls and the regulations around how firms are allowed to conduct their telemarketing campaigns. They came to an agreement about how these companies should be able to contact people, which could be good news for those plagued by nuisance calls. 

Cold callers (organisations that contact prospective customers with no previous contact with them over the phone) could now face big fines if they fail to show the number that they’re calling from when they try and contact potential customers. According to This is Money, this new rule is expected to become law in the Spring of this year and could herald the end of anonymous marketing calls. 

In the meantime, if you find that you’re receiving an unreasonable number of unsolicited, unknown calls there are steps you should take to stop it, the first being to watch this very helpful and straightforward video from Ofcom, the regulator and competition authority for the UKs communications industries. The video outlines how to stop these companies getting your number in the first place, and also how to stop the calls you’re already getting. You can also register with the Telephone Preference Service and opt out of receiving unsolicited sales calls. If you’re on this register, you should only receive calls from the organisations you’ve given permission to. 

Scam callers

Related to the problem of nuisance calls are scam callers – but unfortunately if you fall foul of one of these calls, you may find yourself having to deal with more than just an annoying conversation.

We recently wrote about the new techniques that scammers are using to try and cheat people out of some cash, vishing being one of them. With this type of scam fraudsters attempt to get money out of people over the phone. Of course, the difference here is that the caller will lie and say that they are from an organisation you recognise, like your bank, and attempt to either get you to give them personal details or actually make a transfer. 

Always remember - even if you hear a name you know, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are who they say they are. There are certain red-flags that you should look out for. For more help on this make sure you read our blog, "The cost of scams rising", and The Money Advice Service have the very comprehensive, “A beginner’s guide to scams.” 

Avoiding calls from lenders

Now, let’s move on to the other reason you might avoid a call – if you don’t want to speak to lenders about an outstanding debt. Unfortunately, when you’re having trouble keeping up with your repayments you might find that the number of calls you receive from numbers you don’t know increases, as the lender tries to get in touch with you. This can obviously make you wary of answering the phone and increase any stress and anxiety you may already be feeling in connection with your debts. 

The most important thing to do when it comes to dealing with debts is to address the issue. The longer a debt goes unpaid, the more likely your lender is to start legal action to try and recover what you owe, but it certainly doesn’t have to get to this stage. 

While we completely understand why you might want to avoid this type of call, burying your head in the sand will only make your situation worse in the long-run. You may be uncomfortable with the idea of explaining why you can’t afford to stick to your repayments, but clear communication is exactly what’s needed. This way your lenders know you’re not just avoiding the debt. 

You might find that your lenders are more understanding than you imagine them to be and are willing to put arrangements in place, such as freezing interest and charges or allowing you to take a payment holiday. If you think you’re going to have problems talking it through with your lenders, either due to the severity of your financial problem or because you’re afraid they won’t be flexible, then it’s definitely time to seek professional advice. Our advisors are available to talk through any debt problem and can advise you on the best course of action. 

For example, it may be best for you to start a debt solution that will put a plan in place for you to deal with your debts at a rate that is affordable for you. There are a handful of these solutions out there and which one might be best for you simply depends on your circumstances. 

Hopefully this blog has helped you if you’re in a position where you find yourself avoiding certain calls. If you’re worried about scammers and nuisance calls make sure you know your rights and how to protect yourself. And of course if the problem is debt related, there is always a way out – just make sure you get the advice you need simply use the options on the left to get in touch. 

 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.