Protecting your Privacy: preventing unwanted phone calls and other unwanted communications 

How should I get rid of intrusive phone calls, e-mails, text messages and faxes?

If you want to reduce the amount of unsolicited marketing you receive, take the following steps. Whenever you give personal details to a marketing organisation – when you buy something by mail order, for example, or fill in a questionnaire on the Internet – tick the box(es) saying that you do not want to receive further information from that or any other company. That will reduce the amount of unsolicited marketing communication you receive. However, if this idea doesn’t work, you need to take legal action against the concerned direct marketer.  

Dealing with intrusive phone calls

You are often disturbed just as you are sitting for dinner by phone calls from kitchen fitters, double-glazing companies and the like. You can take steps to stop people disturbing your privacy like this. The Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999 cover unsolicited marketing calls (called ‘cold calls’). They say that individual phone subscribers (but not companies) can opt out of receiving unsolicited direct-marketing calls.

To do this, you register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Once your details are listed with the TPS, direct marketers cannot contact you by phone. If they do so, say you are registered with the TPS and tell them not to phone again. If you tell a company this and are still getting marketing calls from its representatives after 28 days, you can complain to the TPS. You can also complain to the Office of the Information Commissioner, but you must show evidence.

Putting a stop to junk faxes

You have a fax machine at home. Lately you have started receiving unsolicited faxes advertising various products. The Telecommunications Regulations Act 1999, which covers faxes, say that individuals have to give their consent before direct marketing companies can send them unsolicited faxes. If you have not given consent, the sender of the fax is breaking the rules.

You can register with the Fax Preference Service (FPS), which works on similar lines to the TPS. A company that directs its employees to contact phone subscribers whose details are listed with the FPS infringes the Telecommunications Regulations 1999.  Some junk faxes give a number to fax to stop receiving further unsolicited faxes. Beware: the number given may be charged at a high premium rate.

Removing details from a mailing database

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For more information on:

  • Unwanted text messages
  • More about Mailing Preference Service (MPS)
  • How the MPS works
  • When the MPS does not work
  • How to register