It is illegal for organisations to make unsolicited sales and marketing calls to numbers registered with the TPS, unless they have a person’s consent to do so.
According to Ofcom research, only half (48%) of people familiar with the TPS are aware that mobile numbers can be registered, compared to almost nine in 10 (88%) for landline phone numbers. This helps explain why only 2.9 million mobile numbers (around 3%) are registered on the TPS database, compared with 18.5 million landline numbers (around 85%).
By introducing the quick and easy text-to-register process, the TPS and Ofcom aim to raise awareness of the preference service among mobile users and drive registrations. Mobile phone users should now be able to dodge irritating cold calls for free by texting the second opt-out number the Telephone Preference Service has launched in a week, after it emerged some were being charged to text the first number (78070). While some users may receive a warning message stating the new number isn’t free, the TPS assures us that no charge will be made.
How ‘text-to-register’ works: To register, mobile customers simply text ‘TPS’, followed by their email address to the shortcode 85095. They will receive a text reply from the TPS confirming their number has been successfully added to its database.
Registrants should notice a gradual reduction in unsolicited sales and marketing voice calls after a few days, although it can take up to 28 days for the service to become fully effective. A study commissioned by Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office found people registered with the TPS saw a reduction in the monthly volume of live sales or marketing calls received of around a third (31%). Registering with the TPS, however, does not prevent spam text messages.5
John Mitchison, Head of the Telephone Preference Service, said: “Rogue callers operate illegally and against the interests of ordinary people. Texting will make it easier for people to register their mobile numbers on the TPS, which is the only official no-call list, and help us stamp out rogue callers once and for all by giving the Information Commissioner more ammunition to prosecute these cases.”
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom Consumer Group Director, added: “Many millions of landline customers already take advantage of the protection the TPS gives against nuisance calls, and we want to ensure it’s as easy as possible for mobile users to do the same. We encourage anyone who wants to reduce the number of frustrating and unwanted calls to their mobile phone to register with the TPS today.”
Baroness Neville Rolfe, Minister responsible for data protection, said: “Nuisance calls are incredibly intrusive and can cause significant distress, particularly to elderly and vulnerable members of society. Government is committed to tackling this problem, and we have introduced a series of measures that have already seen record fines handed out to combat these rogue callers. This new service from the TPS and Ofcom will help protect people with mobile phones, making it easier for them to register via text and opt out of the call list.”
As well as registering with the TPS, people can tackle nuisance calls and messages in other ways. Ofcom has the following five tips:
1) Be careful who you give your contact details to, whether it’s online, on the phone, or in person.
2) Look carefully at any marketing ‘opt-in’ and ‘opt-out’ boxes. These boxes are often buried in the small print. If you don’t pay attention to them, you could find yourself inadvertently agreeing to be contacted by companies you don’t recognise.
3) If someone rings and asks for financial information over the phone, such as your account details or PIN number, don’t provide it.
4) Talk to your phone provider to see what privacy services are available, and consider a call-blocker – though be aware, you may need to pay for these services.
5) If you receive a nuisance call or message, make a complaint. Complaint information helps regulators take action against companies acting unlawfully. If the call is a live telesales call, an automated marketing message, or a spam text message, complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office. You can report spam texts to your mobile network operator by simply forwarding the text to 7726. If you receive a silent or abandoned call, complain to Ofcom.